Vanguard Clarifications and Questions


Vanguard

Paizo Employee Starfinder Design Lead

If you want clarifications or have questions specially regarding the vanguard, out them here!


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Q: Is there a significant player demand for reactive class design that this class is responding to?

Q: Would the Vanguard be able to apply its Entropic Strike to a Solarian Solar Weapon? Would it benefit from the Solarian Weapon Crystal damage?

Q: Is the 6 + int mod skills per level intentional, despite the lower number for Solarian and Soldier?

Q: Won't heavy armor, shields, and AC bonuses available to the class interact poorly with EP generation from damage?

Q: In Pathfinder, tying damage to Constitution was avoided in class design. Is that design constraint a concern for the Vanguard?

Q: Do you have to be a masochist to gain levels in Vanguard?


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HammerJack pojnted out in this thread that the AC bonus from having an Entropy Point and the AC bonus from the blocking property (granted by entropic strike) are both enhancement bonuses and therefore do not stack. Is this intentional?

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Poit wrote:
HammerJack pojnted out in this thread that the AC bonus from having an Entropy Point and the AC bonus from the blocking property (granted by entropic strike) are both enhancement bonuses and therefore do not stack. Is this intentional?

I don't intend to go over every design decisions on whether it is intentional or not, since that doesn't get me any useful data from the playtest. It is the rules interaction we want to test, and there are numerous circumstances where you can receive the bonus from one of those sources, but not the other.

There are numerous ways we may change it before the final versions, ranging from getting rid of it, to just giving the class a flat +1 enhancement bonus to AC at all times, to removing one of those two sources, to changing the bonus type of one.
But this is what we want to see in play right now.

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WatersLethe wrote:
Q: Is there a significant player demand for reactive class design that this class is responding to?

There were numerous factors leading to us deciding to design this class, but getting into specific details is outside the scope of what I want to do with the playtest.

WatersLethe wrote:
Q: Would the Vanguard be able to apply its Entropic Strike to a Solarian Solar Weapon? Would it benefit from the Solarian Weapon Crystal damage?

Since a solarian solar weapon is a melee weapon, you can deliver an entropic strike through it. You don't add any damage from the solarian solar weapon (not even from its weapon crystal), but as with any weapon if the level is close enough you can add any weapon special property, critical hit effect, or weapon fusion the solarian weapon crystal adds to the solar weapon to an entropic strike delivered through the solar weapon.

WatersLethe wrote:
Q: Is the 6 + int mod skills per level intentional, despite the lower number for Solarian and Soldier?

Yes. There is no design reason why every class with a +1/level base attack bonus progression must have 4 skill points/level.

WatersLethe wrote:
Q: Won't heavy armor, shields, and AC bonuses available to the class interact poorly with EP generation from damage?

Not necessarily, but the exact balance is something we are asking about in the vanguard survey, and are examining throughout the playtest balance.

WatersLethe wrote:
Q: In Pathfinder, tying damage to Constitution was avoided in class design. Is that design constraint a concern for the Vanguard?

It's definitely something we are looking at, but the game systems handle numerous issues differently. A playtest is at its most useful if you have things in it you don't do in the game's design often, so you can get data on how well it does or doesn't work.

WatersLethe wrote:
Q: Do you have to be a masochist to gain levels in Vanguard?

Nope.


Does the Boost weapon property boost entropic strike damage? Or is that considered boosting the base weapon damage and thus gets overwritten by the entropic strike damage?

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Hiruma Kai wrote:
Does the Boost weapon property boost entropic strike damage? Or is that considered boosting the base weapon damage and thus gets overwritten by the entropic strike damage?

That's a great question.

The only boost melee weapons I can think of offhand are the resonant gauntlets and resonant staves, but they sure count (and I might be forgetting one, and we may add more).

Since entropic strike states "If the melee weapon or shield is no more than 2 item levels below your vanguard level, you can also apply any weapon special property, critical hit effect, or weapon fusion the melee weapon or shield has to your entropic strike," then it the item level is right this sure applies.

The damage part is straightforward. the extra charges is a bit weird. As written, since it is the entropic strike that gains the boost weapon special feature, you must burn extra charges of your entropic strike... which doesn't have any.

RAW, that means you can just use boost endlessly. I suspect if this ability survives the playtest we'd note that the boost still burns charges from the original weapon. Or we may require you to add ALL the weapon special properties of a weapon you channel an entropic strike through, in which case it would also gain powered, and then it would burn charges from the weapon to function at all.

In any case, that'll have to be clarified if the ability is kept for the final version.

Sovereign Court

Can you use entropic strike on a thrown weapon? They're melee weapons.

What happens if you deliver an entropic strike with a natural weapon? Did you get the 1.5x level weapon specialization? What about a ring of fangs?

Sovereign Court

is entropy gain before or after damage reduction and energy resistance?

Can you use intervene, apply damage reduction, and if anything remains gain entropy?

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Ascalaphus wrote:
Can you use entropic strike on a thrown weapon? They're melee weapons.

If the melee weapon is one that allows you to add its weapon special properties to the entropic strike, yes. Otherwise, no.

Ascalaphus wrote:
What happens if you deliver an entropic strike with a natural weapon? Did you get the 1.5x level weapon specialization? What about a ring of fangs?

When you deliver an entropic strike through a melee weapon, it deals damage as your entropic strike. There's no weapon special property that allows you to add damage bonuses to your weapon, so neither of those things impacts the entropic strike damage.

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Ascalaphus wrote:

is entropy gain before or after damage reduction and energy resistance?

Can you use intervene, apply damage reduction, and if anything remains gain entropy?

For entropy points to be gained, you must "take damage equal to or greater than twice your level from a single attack or effect from a significant enemy ."

Within context of Starfinder, "take damage" means the damage actually reduced your SP or HP. This is one reason why purely defensive reactions preempt their trigger (so, for example, the technomancer's countetech magic hack can preempt the damage that triggers it).

Now if you reduce damage by an ability that doesn't say it prevents gaining EP, and the damage that remains is equal to or greater than twice your level, you'd gain an EP.

If this version of the ability is retained after the playtest, it seems likely this point will be further clarified.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Can you use entropic strike on a thrown weapon? They're melee weapons.

If the melee weapon is one that allows you to add its weapon special properties to the entropic strike, yes. Otherwise, no.

It is a little weird, because the text says, "Your entropic strike is a melee attack." So if you throw your Starknife that is currently acting as an Entropic Strike, when it hits, is it still a melee attack? Extending the range at which you can Entropic Strike is presumably the province of the 10th level Entropic Attunement.

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Dracomicron wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Can you use entropic strike on a thrown weapon? They're melee weapons.

If the melee weapon is one that allows you to add its weapon special properties to the entropic strike, yes. Otherwise, no.

It is a little weird, because the text says, "Your entropic strike is a melee attack." So if you throw your Starknife that is currently acting as an Entropic Strike, when it hits, is it still a melee attack? Extending the range at which you can Entropic Strike is presumably the province of the 10th level Entropic Attunement.

If the starknife is of a level where it's weapon special properties apply to the entropic strike, the entropic strike becomes a melee weapon with the thrown special property. When you throw it, the starknife goes with you, and if it isn't a throw-and-return set up of some kind, you don't have it any more until you go get it.


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Well that is cool.

I guess I will get added benefit from the Pulse Gauntlet with the Throwing and Called fusions that I put on my playtest character.

ROCKET FIST GO!

Kinda mitigates the lack of ranged options of the class.


I've always wondered about the developers intent on significant enemies, and given the fact that the Vanguard has some ally damage mitigation, do they gain entropy points when in situations that could kill them but don't in fact involve enemies. Such as facing traps (which might have an associated CR) and have a duration longer than 1 round. Can a trap be considered combat if you switch to round by round actions or roll initiative for it?

Secondly, since damage only counts that caused by a significant enemy, how do environmental hazards come into play in combat?

Let say a significant enemy uses the reposition manuever to put the Vanguard into a pool of liquid nitrogen (not an effect of an enemy, just a normal environmental hazard) that deals more than twice the Vanguard level in cold damage each round.

Does the Vanguard gain EP from that damage? If so, do they gain it every round they stay in it? It was neither a direct attack nor an effect generated by the significant enemy.

If not, is it then intended for intelligent enemies to bypass a Vanguard's abilities by simply putting them in environmental hazards or in the path of automated weapons (i.e. throw them out an airlock or into the path of an automated laser rifle trap)?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Just to make sure I'm thinking clearly and correctly here, if you use a melee weapon with a Vanguard, you are choosing to either do a standard melee attack, where the weapon's standard damage is applied, or, to use it to perform your Entropic Strike, where that damage is applied instead.

So, if, for instance, I made a L4 Vesk Vanguard with a Tactical Greataxe that I added the Thrown and Returning fusions on, I could, based on all of the above:
a) Make a standard melee attack and choose whether to do the 1d12+Str+Vanguard level (from Weapon Specialization on Basic Melee Weapons) or the 1d6 Entropic Strike Bludgeoning and / or Acid damage
b) Throw the Greataxe with the same choices as above, with my to hit roll possibly becoming greater due to range increments

Sovereign Court

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Do operative weapons allow you to perform any combat maneuver using Dexterity instead of Strength?

The CRB isn't totally explicit that your weapon affects maneuvers (probably because we don't have +X weapons anymore) but it's implied because you can make them against anyone within your weapon's reach, and there's weapons that assist sunder and disarm maneuvers. In this case, it's important to know if Strength oriented vanguards have an advantage on maneuvers compared to Dexterity specced ones.


Is damage received for the purpose of gaining EP before or after resistances/DR?


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Ascalaphus wrote:

Do operative weapons allow you to perform any combat maneuver using Dexterity instead of Strength?

The CRB isn't totally explicit that your weapon affects maneuvers (probably because we don't have +X weapons anymore) but it's implied because you can make them against anyone within your weapon's reach, and there's weapons that assist sunder and disarm maneuvers. In this case, it's important to know if Strength oriented vanguards have an advantage on maneuvers compared to Dexterity specced ones.

I was wondering about this too.


The Entropic damage dice seem wonky. At level 7, they are 2d6 then go to 2d8 at lvl 8, then back to 3d6. Then at lvl 11 they go to 3d8 and back to 4d6 at 12, the die number increases from there but stays at d6's. I think the d8's might be a typo. Can you clarify?


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Shannon Wallum wrote:
The Entropic damage dice seem wonky. At level 7, they are 2d6 then go to 2d8 at lvl 8, then back to 3d6. Then at lvl 11 they go to 3d8 and back to 4d6 at 12, the die number increases from there but stays at d6's. I think the d8's might be a typo. Can you clarify?

2d6 > 2d8 > 3d6 > 3d8 > 4d6 is a linear incremental damage progression. At no point does the damage go down, so I don't see the problem. Weapon marks in the equipment chapter don't always use the same damage die as their predecessors, I don't see why the Entropic Strike should.

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Porridge wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Do operative weapons allow you to perform any combat maneuver using Dexterity instead of Strength?

The CRB isn't totally explicit that your weapon affects maneuvers (probably because we don't have +X weapons anymore) but it's implied because you can make them against anyone within your weapon's reach, and there's weapons that assist sunder and disarm maneuvers. In this case, it's important to know if Strength oriented vanguards have an advantage on maneuvers compared to Dexterity specced ones.

I was wondering about this too.

Since entropic strike turns your bare hands into an operative weapon, it's really hard to see how you can't make combat maneuvers with at minumum a bare-hand entropic strike.

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loki.the.mischievous wrote:

So, if, for instance, I made a L4 Vesk Vanguard with a Tactical Greataxe that I added the Thrown and Returning fusions on, I could, based on all of the above:

a) Make a standard melee attack and choose whether to do the 1d12+Str+Vanguard level (from Weapon Specialization on Basic Melee Weapons) or the 1d6 Entropic Strike Bludgeoning and / or Acid damage

It's important to note you need to make this decision when you make the attack roll, since the greateaxe attack targets KAC, and the entropic attack delivered through the tactical greataxe targets EAC, but yes both are options.

And the entropic strike is 1d6+Con.
loki.the.mischievous wrote:
b) Throw the Greataxe with the same choices as above, with my to hit roll possibly becoming greater due to range increments

If you mean the attack roll total you need might be higher due to penalties from range, then yes.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
loki.the.mischievous wrote:

So, if, for instance, I made a L4 Vesk Vanguard with a Tactical Greataxe that I added the Thrown and Returning fusions on, I could, based on all of the above:

a) Make a standard melee attack and choose whether to do the 1d12+Str+Vanguard level (from Weapon Specialization on Basic Melee Weapons) or the 1d6 Entropic Strike Bludgeoning and / or Acid damage

It's important to note you need to make this decision when you make the attack roll, since the greateaxe attack targets KAC, and the entropic attack delivered through the tactical greataxe targets EAC, but yes both are options.

And the entropic strike is 1d6+Con.
loki.the.mischievous wrote:
b) Throw the Greataxe with the same choices as above, with my to hit roll possibly becoming greater due to range increments
If you mean the attack roll total you need might be higher due to penalties from range, then yes.

Thank you, sir. That does confirm what I was thinking.

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Ascalaphus wrote:

Do operative weapons allow you to perform any combat maneuver using Dexterity instead of Strength?

The CRB isn't totally explicit that your weapon affects maneuvers (probably because we don't have +X weapons anymore) but it's implied because you can make them against anyone within your weapon's reach, and there's weapons that assist sunder and disarm maneuvers. In this case, it's important to know if Strength oriented vanguards have an advantage on maneuvers compared to Dexterity specced ones.

In Starfinder, combat maneuvers are just melee attacks with an effect other than damage to a target creature (though sunder still does damage). So everything that applies to melee attacks, including reach and properties of your weapons, applies to combat maneuver attack rolls.

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Shannon Wallum wrote:
The Entropic damage dice seem wonky. At level 7, they are 2d6 then go to 2d8 at lvl 8, then back to 3d6. Then at lvl 11 they go to 3d8 and back to 4d6 at 12, the die number increases from there but stays at d6's. I think the d8's might be a typo. Can you clarify?

The d8s are not typos.

Going from 2d6 to 2d8 to 3d6 is going from average damage 7 to 9 to 10.5, and max damage of 12 to 16 to 18.

That's an intentional effort to make sure vanguard damage, which is designed to be useful without overpowering, doesn't ever lag too badly behind other classes standard options at the same level.


Ok, thank you.

Sovereign Court

After, I believe, considering the reply in one of the other threads here.


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If you put the Gravitation effect on your Entropic Strike, how far can you move the target on a hit?

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Merged Duplicate Threads.

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Brew Bird wrote:
If you put the Gravitation effect on your Entropic Strike, how far can you move the target on a hit?

gravitation is a weapon special property, so you would be adding it to entropic strike by channeling the entropic strike through a melee weapon. That melee weapon will list how far its gravitation weapon special property will move a target.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
If you put the Gravitation effect on your Entropic Strike, how far can you move the target on a hit?
gravitation is a weapon special property, so you would be adding it to entropic strike by channeling the entropic strike through a melee weapon. That melee weapon will list how far its gravitation weapon special property will move a target.

What about when you use the 5th level ability Entropic attunement and spend 1 Entropy point per attack to apply the graviton weapon special property to your entropic strike by itself?

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Hiruma Kai wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
If you put the Gravitation effect on your Entropic Strike, how far can you move the target on a hit?
gravitation is a weapon special property, so you would be adding it to entropic strike by channeling the entropic strike through a melee weapon. That melee weapon will list how far its gravitation weapon special property will move a target.
What about when you use the 5th level ability Entropic attunement and spend 1 Entropy point per attack to apply the graviton weapon special property to your entropic strike by itself?

Then there's a missing piece of information we'll need to add!

for the playtest, assume it's 5 feet, +5 feet for every 5 vanguard levels you have.


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Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Hiruma Kai wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Brew Bird wrote:
If you put the Gravitation effect on your Entropic Strike, how far can you move the target on a hit?
gravitation is a weapon special property, so you would be adding it to entropic strike by channeling the entropic strike through a melee weapon. That melee weapon will list how far its gravitation weapon special property will move a target.
What about when you use the 5th level ability Entropic attunement and spend 1 Entropy point per attack to apply the graviton weapon special property to your entropic strike by itself?

Then there's a missing piece of information we'll need to add!

for the playtest, assume it's 5 feet, +5 feet for every 5 vanguard levels you have.

That's what I was asking about thank you.

Exo-Guardians

In my current Society playtest group my Vanguard has DR 9/– (8th Level, Enhanced Resistance–Kinetic, Mk1 Dermal Plating).

If I'm adjacent to an ally, and I use Intervene against a kinetic attack that would deal 20 damage to them, do they then take 10 and I only take 1?

I asked this in my playtest group and we all agreed that's how the language seems to work.


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Dracomicron wrote:
I found that DR might not be worth it on an 8th level vanguard because I missed out on EP because it took damage from 17 kinetic to 9 kinetic.

DR scales as your level. 1 EP prevents damage equal to your level. It seems like this is just freeing up your reactions?


QuidEst wrote:
Dracomicron wrote:
I found that DR might not be worth it on an 8th level vanguard because I missed out on EP because it took damage from 17 kinetic to 9 kinetic.
DR scales as your level. 1 EP prevents damage equal to your level. It seems like this is just freeing up your reactions?

That's only if you use your EP on Mitigate.

If I had other cool powers to use the EP on, the DR would be counterproductive.

Sovereign Court

@Owen:

If a vanguard dips a level Solarian and uses a sufficiently high-level solarian crystal, can he add Soulfire fusion damage to the kinetic strike?


Ascalaphus wrote:

@Owen:

If a vanguard dips a level Solarian and uses a sufficiently high-level solarian crystal, can he add Soulfire fusion damage to the kinetic strike?

This was answered in another thread in Vanguard Playtest (it’s a no). Entropic Strike is an ability with its own damage calculation, so it can’t benefit from other abilities or bonuses other than crit effects and special properties.

Sovereign Court

BlueCatastrophe wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

@Owen:

If a vanguard dips a level Solarian and uses a sufficiently high-level solarian crystal, can he add Soulfire fusion damage to the kinetic strike?

This was answered in another thread in Vanguard Playtest (it’s a no). Entropic Strike is an ability with its own damage calculation, so it can’t benefit from other abilities or bonuses other than crit effects and special properties.

I'm not so sure. Earlier in this thread I asked about weapon specialization and got this answer:

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
What happens if you deliver an entropic strike with a natural weapon? Did you get the 1.5x level weapon specialization? What about a ring of fangs?
When you deliver an entropic strike through a melee weapon, it deals damage as your entropic strike. There's no weapon special property that allows you to add damage bonuses to your weapon, so neither of those things impacts the entropic strike damage.

Likewise here Owen says that the "boost" weapon property might apply to entropic strikes delivered by the weapon.

So it seems to me like the Soulfire infusion certainly could work with entropic strike:

Entropic Strike wrote:

If the melee weapon or shield is no more than 2

item levels below your vanguard level, you can also apply any weapon
special property, critical hit effect, or weapon fusion the melee weapon
or shield has to your entropic strike.

Soulfire is a weapon fusion. If the weapon is high enough level, you should be able to apply Soulfire to your entropic strike.

Which is an interesting result, because vanguards primarily require physical stats, but most races also boost a mental stat, like Charisma. And with your 5-level ability upgrades, you're going to boost at least one mental stat, so maybe again Charisma.


The soulfire fusion shouldn’t work with entropic strike to protect illogical players from themselves. You don’t want to spend that much money for a tiny damage boost and sometimes a crit effect rather than meaningful weapon qualities.


Xenocrat wrote:
The soulfire fusion shouldn’t work with entropic strike to protect illogical players from themselves. You don’t want to spend that much money for a tiny damage boost and sometimes a crit effect rather than meaningful weapon qualities.

What do you consider the cut off for meaningful damage boosts? And which weapon qualities do you consider meaningful?

A 2nd level Solar Weapon Solarian/Vanguard with 14 Dex/14 Con/14 Cha and ~200 credits has a +4 to hit 1d3+5 (7 avg) if using a soulfire fusion (in photon mode). Without they're doing 1d3+3 (5 avg). Thats a 40% difference.

If you were going to take Charisma anyways to build a face type Vanguard (diplomacy and intimidate are class skills), its not totally crazy.

Straight Vanguard 2 with 18 Dex/14 Con would have +6 to hit, 1d3+2 (4 avg), and -2 to face skills. Even including the 10% hit chance difference (which is a 20% damage advantage), 7*0.4 = 2.8 vs 4*0.5= 2.0, which means the Solarian/Vanguard is also 1.4 times as much damage at 2nd level against 50/50 odds to hit for the Vanguard.

At 5th level, a Solarian 1/Vanguard 4 has a +9 vs EAC, 1d4+11 (13.5 avg) attack (assuming +2 went to AC). The Vanguard 5 would have +10 vs EAC, 1d6+8 (11.5 avg). Here the to-hit bonus difference has shrunk, so 13.5*0.45=6.075 versus 11.5*0.5=5.75, which is about a 1.056 increase for the Solarian/Vanguard. So 5.6% more damage than the Vanguard. But still +2 to charisma skills. Compare against not using Soulfire, and you get 10.5 damage, or 28% more damage from Soulfire versus not.

At level 12, end game for many APs, in power armor (which favors the straight vanguard) so 22 free strength (+6 damage), you'd have something like:

Solarian 1/Vanguard 11 has +18 to hit (using strength), 3d8+27 (40.5 avg)
Vanguard 12 has +18 to hit, 4d6+23 (37 avg).
So Solarian/Vanguard is up 40.5/37 = 1.0946, or about 9% more damage while having the same AC, and +2 to face skills. Not using Soulfire is 36.5, so about a 10% difference.

So, the Solar weapon crystal keeps damage up to date, while allowing a wider spread of stat points around to charisma skills. Or alternatively, not using Soulfire is anywhere from a 40% to 10% damage drop, decreasing at higher levels.

Personally, I'd probably go with 40% more damage at the low levels. At higher levels it might be more of a trade off, at level 11 the Solarian 1/Vanguard X gets reach innately though, and I'm not sure which special weapon qualities are worth 10% damage or so.

Actually, this analysis suggests if you can use Soulfire fusion, that a Solarian 2/Vanguard X isn't that crazy build wise to get a standard action charge, assuming you're willing to focus on Charsima skills.


Yes, if you make a goofy vanguard build, this option makes it slightly less goofy. Encouraging goofy builds and letting them think they're doing something effective isn't helping people, though.

I'd rather have a crit effect, reach, throw, and/or a +2 to my aspect's combat maneuver to go with my better physical combat stats.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What's goofy about that build? Also, who defines goofiness and what level of goofiness is allowable for approved builds?


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WatersLethe wrote:
What's goofy about that build? Also, who defines goofiness and what level of goofiness is allowable for approved builds?

Multiclassing is inherently goofy, as are social/face characters bolted onto a combat class. I do; it depends.


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Xenocrat wrote:
Multiclassing is inherently goofy, as are social/face characters bolted onto a combat class.

Y I K E S


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None are so shaken as those who hear an uncomfortable truth.

:-)


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Can you use entropic strike on a thrown weapon? They're melee weapons.
If the melee weapon is one that allows you to add its weapon special properties to the entropic strike, yes. Otherwise, no.

Thank you for this, and the other clarifications. This playtest is awesome :)


Xenocrat wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
What's goofy about that build? Also, who defines goofiness and what level of goofiness is allowable for approved builds?
Multiclassing is inherently goofy, as are social/face characters bolted onto a combat class. I do; it depends.

I can agree about multiclassing. When every class has a powerful level 20 capstone ability and several other powerful abilities locked behind high levels, multiclassing becomes very unattractive.

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