Starship Combat Challenge levels


Starfinder Society

51 to 100 of 133 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Dataphiles 4/5 ⦵⦵

roysier wrote:

I personally think the following resolution would work.

Add one tier of starship above the scenario tier so each scenario would have 3 Staship combat tiers. For example a 3-6 would have a tier 4, tier 6, and a tier 8 option. When the GM determines that the players are Starship combat optimized he can give the players the option of moving up one tier. If the players do that and win they get something of the equivalent of + 10% in credit reward at the end of the scenario.

This will let designers continue to design to the average but also let parties who are optimized for starship combat have a challenge if they so desire.

I do not support the 10% extra rewards as there is no reason the players have earned it.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Agreed. Rewarding hard mode leads to nothing but min-maxed characters.

Hmm


Some games have the design mentality of making it harder the better the player is. Most often occurs in computer games, where the game can track how well you're doing, and set itself up to juuuuust push you. I wonder if it'd be possible to write adventures like this? Where doing well earns you harder challenges, without it seeming like a punishment for success.

⦵⦵

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber
Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:


But I do agree with the Wolf that knowing the ranges of starship weapons is critical. All statblocks should list them, and they don't. Fortunately, by now I have the weapons mostly memorized, but that does not help our newest GMs learn this stuff.

1000000% This. One of my chief complaints about all the stat-blocks since the game came out is that none of the ranged attacks for anything list the range increments in the stat blocks. This was bad enough in PF, but in SF it's a nightmare to try to memorize all the ranges in a 300 item table. By now, I have all the common ones memorized but every single time I stat out a new NPC or ship with unusual weapon in Roll20 or during play I have to waste time cracking open a book or digging up a link in the SRD just to find this stuff. This doesn't add a lot of difficulty to running but it does add a significant amount of tedium and that's zero fun.

Though, I do have a recommendation vis-a-vis starship combat weapon ranges, at least for the GM's doing games in Roll20. Tokens in Roll20 can be set up with 'auras' and I usually set these to the ranges of the weapons on their ship. That lets me easily see at a glance while running who's in range of what weapons. It doesn't always work, but it helps.

5/5 ⦵⦵

Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

Agreed. Rewarding hard mode leads to nothing but min-maxed characters.

Hmm

We really need a way to allow players to have fun at tables that are poorly fit for Starship combats and those tables who are maximized for starship combat. My hands are tied due to run as written rules. In a home game I can balance the combats to make them challenging.

In my area players are getting sick and tired of Starship combats because they are too easy and are coming across as a big waste of time.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
roysier wrote:
We really need a way to allow players to have fun at tables...

I want to step in and point out that "fun" is always a subjective element. Some people find the existing starship combat rules to be enjoyable, and as others have eloquently explained above, there's a lot of varied reasons for that. I recognize that the starship combat rules aren't for everyone, and are a stark deviation from the systems that players are used to. Some people enjoy that change of pace, others don't. Some people need more of a challenge, while others just want to see starship combats be done as quickly as possible.

The starship tag exists to let people know that the scenario includes starship combat. I can understand that to some people that might read as "just don't play starship combat scenarios" and then the associated argument of "you get less Society content if you don't like starship combat." Of course, that is the reason the tag exists in the first place. We recognize that these rules aren't for everyone, however they are part of the core mechanics and aren't something we're going to drop or radically alter anytime soon.

Also, on the subject of GM discretion for hard-mode starship encounters... as was stated, doing any kind of extra monetary rewards tends to encourage the PC-optimization arms race, so it's something we'll be avoiding. Similarly, I'm _extremely_ hesitant to ever include any sort of "GM Discretion" ruling that lets a GM determine how "optimized" a party is, simply due to how that could be abused or how subjective something like optimization can be.

2/5 ⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
roysier wrote:
In my area players are getting sick and tired of Starship combats because they are too easy and are coming across as a big waste of time.

I'm a GM/player at the same game store as you, and I have not noticed players expressing this sentiment.

I, for one, do not want starship combats to be harder. When the party is not good at starship roles, the existing combats are hard enough. I haven't experienced a bad starship party often at my local game store, but I have at conventions. I really don't want those bad experiences to become worse.

1/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I entirely forgot about the first ship encounter in Into the Unknown. That one we won, of course.

About the ships. Our defeat in the second part of Into the Unknown made us wary of the Drake, as it ran out of ammo and turned like a brick. We used Pegasus for most missions, only shifting to Drake for On the Trail of History, where it coincidentally lost again. The Drake refit 1.1 seems to have fixed the most glaring problem. It still turns poorly, and Vesk Power Steering doesn't remedy that (a couple of players suggested/tried piloting with Strength).

Misroi wrote:
2. Multiple adds can quickly break down the action economy. I think one of the reasons players are ignoring certain starship roles is that the only way out of starship combat is gunnery. Perhaps giving alternate victory conditions, other than shooting, would be a way to encourage players to have a balanced starship team - maybe the science officer needs to decode the ancient Precursor ship Maguffin to go into the Drift, and once the ship is away, the enemy ship peels off, since there's nothing left to fight for. Maybe the ship captain needs to convince a neutral ship to engage in combat for the PCs, or discourage a hostile, third-party ship from attacking the PCs as well.

This is important. Fiction is full of scenes where the purpose of one ship is not to pummel the other into a wreck, but to complete a mission or just escape unwinnable fights. The second one is probably difficult to translate into a starship combat scene and is probably better left as a narrative section, though. Or a series of skill checks that determine how beat-up the ship is in the next scenario.

I don't hate starship combat. To speed it up I made separate player sheets for every crew position and ship tier, just to cut down on the cross-reference and DC-calculations. It was a chore and killed a couple of trees, but the scenarios run faster (assuming the poor players can decipher the sheets, since my tendency to cram information can be distracting). I have also tried to make a cheat sheet for each NPC ship, but that requires more experimentation.

The most interesting battles are those where something other than pewpewpewblam happens. I was blessed with a batch of players who were appropriately flabbergasted by the Besmara's Spawn and that wacky ship with ramming prow. While the Spawn wasn't that dangerous, the fight wasn't one-sided and I got to enjoy the player's antics as they tried to avoid it hugging them to pieces. The ram ship was even more entertaining after a couple of hits. "Must go faster. Must go faster."

Back to the topic. The fights do not need to become harder. The players still groan slightly when they see the star map, but they are starting to develop a routine. ...now that I think about it, part of their dislike for ship combat could come from the feeling that they don't get to play their characters. Instead they need to concentrate on a rule subsystem that's still not entirely natural to them, and has on a couple of occasions turned into a slog. So most of them just want it quickly and efficiently out of the way so they can go back to playing their characters.

5/5 ⦵⦵

I guess we can talk tonight. There has been that expression from at least one other player besides myself who normally doesn't complain out loud. I have seen people complain at the table while the starship combat is going on. I have seen you complain on more then one occasion do we have to finish out the combat we haven't taken any damage.

My grip mainly is when the players can unload almost 3 times the firepower onto the bad guys and can heal their shields faster then the damage they take. I.e. dead suns book 4,5,6, anything involving the new tier-2 drake, tier 7-8 in the special being faced off against a tier 6 ship where both tables obliterated the bad guys on the second round of combat, etc. The same lop-sided occured in 1*19. IN tier 7-8 we were faced off against a tier 6 ship. I personally feel it's a waste of time when things are this lop-sided and it's burning me out on Starfinder altogether. But with this thread I'm realizing my view is a very small minority, If the majority is happy with no challenge combats keep them as they are and since I'm one of the only ones who views things different then who really cares. I drop out and it doesn't matter.

These lop -sided scenarios seem to have increased over the past 6 months. the first time I noticed it is when the tier 7-8 at the special was faced off against a tier 6 ship and we were literally throwing out 25 damage dice vs something like 8 from the opponent. Both high tier tables completely destroyed the bad guys ships in 2 rounds. At your table it seemed exciting PJ bragged about it for weeks at our table the feeling was what the hell was the point of that.

I have not had bad experiences at cons but maybe I'm just lucky. Most cons there are at least a few poeple picking up pregens and other players recommend the pregens to fill missing starship gaps in starship combat scenarios.

Not sure if I'm going to stick with Starfinder much longer. But its not because of the Startship combat rules it's the difficulty level set by SFS for Starship combat.

I don't want to mentally phase out and just ignore Starhship combat except when someone else tells me to roll a dice. if I'm there at the table I don't think it's fair to other players.

As Thursty mentioned above i'm in the camp where I won't skip starship combat scenarios. I want the entire storyline if I'm playing in the the campaign. So it's either all scenarios or no scenarios for me.

Anyway no decisions made yet, I will see how the next few starship scenarios go and make a decision at that point. The King Xeros scenario put a nice wrinkle and has me encouraged that maybe things are not on a downward spiral but I will see.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Naal wrote:
I don't hate starship combat. To speed it up I made separate player sheets for every crew position and ship tier, just to cut down on the cross-reference and DC-calculations. It was a chore and killed a couple of trees, but the scenarios run faster (assuming the poor players can decipher the sheets, since my tendency to cram information can be distracting). I have also tried to make a cheat sheet for each NPC ship, but that requires more experimentation.

I would love to see what sheets you use, Naal.

Paris Crenshaw's Starship Combat Roles Cheat Sheets
^ This is the one I use!

Perdue's Starship Combat Roles
Paizo Thread: Starship Role Forms
^ These were recommended by the Dire GM, and they're pretty neat as well.

If you're willing to share the set you made, I'd love to see it.

Hmm

Dataphiles 4/5 ⦵⦵

You do you roysier. The only one gaining or losing out based on your decision to continue or stop is you. Everyone else will be completely or almost completely unaffected.

My initial post in this thread still remains. You decide if/how you want to have fun, no one else (not even the scenario) can decide for you.

5/5 ⦵⦵

"Dr." Cupi wrote:

You do you roysier. The only one gaining or losing out based on your decision to continue or stop is you. Everyone else will be completely or almost completely unaffected.

My initial post in this thread still remains. You decide if/how you want to have fun, no one else (not even the scenario) can decide for you.

I agree. I wanted to state my issue and see if others agree/disagree or if it is something that can be fixed. I have my answer no it won't be fixed and no one else thinks there is a problem. So, back to where I was i stop playing or deal with it. I'll give it a couple of months and decide if I'd rather spend my time playing another game system. I know I won't spend the time not gaming. It will just be playing a different role playing game.

5/5 ⦵⦵

A perfect illustration was on display at my local store. The Tier 2 Drake in 2 combat rounds put out 47 points of damage and received 6 points with only 4 players playing. That;s the lop-sided crap that's souring me on Starfinder.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

3 people marked this as a favorite.
roysier wrote:
and no one else thinks there is a problem.

I have sympathy for the problem. It's real, you're right, it IS a problem. It's not just one where I see a workable solution for organized play.

The entire starfinder system is based around characters that are reasonably competent enough in a regular fight. Between staminia letting everyone healing and mass market tech problem solvers (like backpacks) any random bag of nuts can go through even a hard dungeon reasonably well. A well oiled machine is noticibly better, but not my TOO much.

Starship combat isn't like that though. Between needing an entire team of dex based/ dex seconded characters (or at least 3-4), knowing to ditch the standard captain sci officer/ paradigm presented in the rules, the power gap between a prepared group (like yours) and a random asortment nuts isn't big, its great googgly moogly level huge. A challenge to your group will absolutely destroy a less prepared one.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

2 people marked this as a favorite.
roysier wrote:
If the majority is happy with no challenge combats keep them as they are and since I'm one of the only ones who views things different then who really cares. I drop out and it doesn't matter.

It's not that we don't want a challenge. It's that those starship combats I have been in that were challenging took up 3+ hours out of a 5-hour slot and were a stressful slog fest that essentially had us waiting for a 2-round lucky streak. The first round to take down the enemy shields, the second to do serious damage to the unshielded arc. Given that experience, "challenging" starship combat translates to "unfun time-sink" starship combat. I think what most people want is "challenging fun". But until things change, people are going to choose easy fun over challenging unfun.

Unfortunately, starship combat is even more party makeup dependent that normal combat. Which makes balancing it in SFS nearly impossible. My Envoy was purposely built to be good at any ship position and great as captain or pilot, plus she has a boon that lets her mount nukes on ships. If she's at the table, starship combat is usually a breeze. On the other hand, even though I have purposefully built my Solarian to be good at the one job he could be good at, i.e. captain, since that is the least important job on the ship (the opposite of real life) it really only works with tables of 5+ where everyone else has the other positions covered.

2/5 ⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
roysier wrote:
A perfect illustration was on display at my local store. The Tier 2 Drake in 2 combat rounds put out 47 points of damage and received 6 points with only 4 players playing. That;s the lop-sided crap that's souring me on Starfinder.

That encounter is supposed to be lopsided.

Spoilers for Against the Aeon Throne book 1:
The first encounter of the first book of this adventure path is a starship encounter. It's the start of an AP, so it's intended for four level 1 characters with a tier 1 ship. So, it's an incredibly easy encounter - against two tier 1/4 ships - to get the players used to how starship combat works before the real starship combat later in the adventure.

Last night, we started this book with three level 2 characters and one level 1 character. Because we were playing in event mode, we have to use a tier 2 SFS ship instead of a tier 1 custom ship, so we brought the drake.

We were a group of overleveled characters, played by people very experienced with the starship combat system, using an overleveled ship optimized for combat. On paper, we should absolutely destroy that encounter, and we did. That's not a flaw in the system.

5/5 ⦵⦵

My point is the new tier 2 Drake is overpowered with 2 turret guns and a foreward gun. You have a tier 2 ship averaging 23.5 points of damage a round. There are tier 2 ships who max in their forward arc doing 24 points if all dice are rolled max. That's the problem. I'll count up damage dealt and taken in next weeks Starship combat.looking at the enemy ship I know the damage will be less then 50% of the tier 2 drake. Probably around 35% of the damage output.

5/5 ⦵⦵

No one like my solution last night that no one sits in the gunner seat.

I have a new one it's like musical chairs each round a seat is removed resulting in one less seat then number of players. Everyone rolls imitative and the loser is out of the starship combat until we have a winner. All the higher initiative rolls sit in a random seat. Once there is only one person left I'll buy that person a coke from the store. Then we play again until the starship combat is wrapped up.

Or how about all players roll initiate each round and the highest 2 jump on the turret guns and get to fire them that round. Everyone else can sit where they want. All players accumulate points for how much damage they hit the enemy. We re-roll initiative each round giving others the chance to jump on the 360 degree big guns. At the end of the starship combat the character with the most points I'll buy a coke for them from the store. Even one of Walters Special cokes if that's what someone wants.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

3 people marked this as a favorite.
BigNorseWolf wrote:
roysier wrote:
I should add that a major contributing cause is the players figuring out that outside of a pilot and Engineering. every gun gets manned. Captain and science officer are rarely used. The NPC ships don't have the stats listed in the stat block to also do this same strategy.

well, the NPC ship fires every gun they have, they just have the crew for it.

But yes, once PCs figure out that the captain sci officer engineer gunner paradigm is FAR less effective there's a signifigant jump in power level.

However, scaling encounters up to meet that power level would leave those still in that paradigm (which is the way the game is intended to be played) as space debris. PCs curbstomping battles is a problem. PCs always losing space battles is a BIG problem.

I'm a bit late to the party here, but wanted to provide a counterpoint. I've found that keeping to what BNW calls the "paradigm presented in the book" is EXTREMELY effective at level 6 and higher. Because the roles start to get very additive.

1. Engineer uses Overpower to charge weapons, gives Science Officer a +2 bonus, and boosts shields/engines as needed.
2. Pilot moves as normal.
3. Science Officer uses Lock On (with +2 bonus from Engineer) to give gunners a +2 bonus on all attacks this round.
4. Captain uses Encourage or Demand (depending on skills) for the check on the biggest gun.
5. The best gunner fires a Broadside (-2 from Broadside, +2 from Lock On cancel out) and uses all the nodes available (one per check) and the Captain bonus (on the big gun) to wreck the enemy.

(If you have a 6th player, their role depends on their skills. If they are close to the best gunner's modifier (within 2) give them one of the guns.)

I think at level 12+, at least one Science Officer is going to be almost a "must have". You need to be Improving Countermeasures (enemy gunners roll twice and take the worst) just in case the enemy captain in giving an Inspiring Speech to her gunners (roll twice and take the better).

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Having said the above, I still agree that Starship Combat needs a lot of tweaking. At those high (6+) levels, the combats are ending in two or three rounds. The scenarios have been deliberately tilting in favor of the PCs. If it was more even, there would be some quick PC deaths going on.

5/5 ⦵⦵

Also for GMing if the party is taking no damage to their ship(all being repaired faster then they can receive it) and the players are slowly chipping away at the bad guys. I don't see any reason to play out 30 minutes of the inevitable to a conclusion. Just fast forward 5 battle rounds and say the enemy has been destroyed.

5/5 ⦵⦵

For the players if you find yourself in a ship that outguns the enemy (which is almost always) and you move first in piloting if you can move right in front the the enemy's facing and point right at it (face to face) is a great tactic. The enemy must always move 1 square forward before turning.

This forces the enemy to stay there and fire in the face to face arc (which it will lose due to player ships overwhelming fire power) or force it to try a maneuver other then evade which could cause it to move right through your square and let the players get an AOO on it.

And I would add if the bad guys have a crappy pilot and is having problems making maneuver rolls you may even want to move first if you can get into this position.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Kevin Willis wrote:

[

1. Engineer uses Overpower to charge weapons, gives Science Officer a +2 bonus, and boosts shields/engines as needed.

Boosting the weapons is terrible and has almost negative scaling. As ship die damages increase the odds of getting a 1 drop, as does the effect of getting one more point of damage. If you need shields and engines for some reason its worth it, but the damage boost is minimal.

2. Pilot moves as normal.
3. Science Officer uses Lock On (with +2 bonus from Engineer) to give gunners a +2 bonus on all attacks this round.
4. Captain uses Encourage or Demand (depending on skills) for the check on the biggest gun.
5. The best gunner fires a Broadside (-2 from Broadside, +2 from Lock On cancel out) and uses all the nodes available (one per check) and the Captain bonus (on the big gun) to wreck the enemy.

The problem there is that the best gunner is probably either the engineer (dex int skill guy) the captain (charisma dex skill guy) the pilot (dex something guy). With the paradigm presented in the book, that i see a lot of people go with, someone thats a good captain becomes the captain even if they'd be a better gunner than the gunner. By 6th level almost everyone can assist the gunner on a 1 . which is no big loss compared to +4 on 1 round and +2 on every other round.

After 6 when your weapons can reliably punch through even max shields, you don't need to fly around to hit the same quadrant it isn't nearly as important to keep up fire on the same quadrant.

2-3 rounds sounds right for spaceship combat. It takes more setup than most other combats.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think mileage varies from region to region; locally, I don't see a lot of people (besides myself) 'optimising' for starship combat; most people don't seem to taking Piloting, and we have things like Solarians, Mystics, and a melee Envoy, who really aren't that effective in Starship combat (in one four-player 5-8 that I can remember, the 'best' gunner had a +7 to hit, and the secondary gunner had a +3...).

That said, the tables where we have multiple Operatives kicking about, I can usually breathe easier, knowing we *should* be okay; but that doesn't happen that often...

5/5 ⦵⦵

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:

[

1. Engineer uses Overpower to charge weapons, gives Science Officer a +2 bonus, and boosts shields/engines as needed.

Boosting the weapons is terrible and has almost negative scaling. As ship die damages increase the odds of getting a 1 drop, as does the effect of getting one more point of damage. If you need shields and engines for some reason its worth it, but the damage boost is minimal.

2. Pilot moves as normal.
3. Science Officer uses Lock On (with +2 bonus from Engineer) to give gunners a +2 bonus on all attacks this round.
4. Captain uses Encourage or Demand (depending on skills) for the check on the biggest gun.
5. The best gunner fires a Broadside (-2 from Broadside, +2 from Lock On cancel out) and uses all the nodes available (one per check) and the Captain bonus (on the big gun) to wreck the enemy.

The problem there is that the best gunner is probably either the engineer (dex int skill guy) the captain (charisma dex skill guy) the pilot (dex something guy). With the paradigm presented in the book, that i see a lot of people go with, someone thats a good captain becomes the captain even if they'd be a better gunner than the gunner. By 6th level almost everyone can assist the gunner on a 1 . which is no big loss compared to +4 on 1 round and +2 on every other round.

After 6 when your weapons can reliably punch through even max shields, you don't need to fly around to hit the same quadrant it isn't nearly as important to keep up fire on the same quadrant.

2-3 rounds sounds right for spaceship combat. It takes more setup than most other combats.

Nice, looks like this would also be a good strategy for the bad guys. If the players don't know it maybe it will even the odds a bit.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Won t work for NPCs. You dont have the stats for them switching roles

Shadow Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

I've been virtually "unplugged" and offline for a couple of weeks, so I'm now just seeing all of the posting going on here. I'll get together my GM and playing experiences with ship combat in the near future, but I wanted to put something out here now, at least. I personally love starship combat. Some of my locals have compared it to a union of X-Wing and an old game called Crimson Skies (I've never played either so don't ask me!) and enjoy it just as much as I do.

Now, I know that it's not for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with that - no two people are required to find the exact same things enjoyable. The trick, than, becomes finding a solution without creating headaches for authors, developers, or GMs to make it more accessible for players who haven't had the best experiences.

One idea off the top of my head would be to loosen the current level of restrictions on "hirelings" - allowing a PC who has little-to-no usefulness (stat-wise) in starship combat to utilize their ally's stats could help bridge the gap.

Another could be finding a way to give PCs access to more intel - maybe a science officer's scan might intercept intercom traffic aboard the enemy vessel(s) with a hint as to their tactics, allowing the PCs' ship to take advantage of that.

From the GM side, when I have players who inhale through their teeth at the sound of "battle stations" I've made a few adjustments to encounters (note that I only do this when a) the following aren't specifically called out in the adventure's tactics and b) when more than half of the players at my table are known to not be huge ship combat fans) to try and keep them from taking too long:

  • - Enemy engineer never repairs shields
  • - Enemy pilot never evades
  • - Enemy captain never taunts

As has been stated already, GM attitude also plays a role in how this goes, so while this helps me, it might not help others. I just wanted to make a post on this thread as ship combat is something I adore, and want to hopefully help others to enjoy it as much as I do!

(Thank you for reading my late-night ramblings!)

5/5 ⦵⦵

I'm glad I opened this discussion. I might have missed something before, but it's the first time I've seen people being really honest about how things are going on this subject.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

One of the striking things to come out of here is that starship combat is very, very different from regular combat in Starfinder.

Regular combat, you have a CR system that gives monsters quite regulated power levels. While there are flukes, a monster's CR in Starfinder is much more reliable as an indicator of difficulty than it is in Pathfinder. Meanwhile, the maximum to-hit and AC you can have as a PC is also much closer regulated. On the whole I've found Starfinder combats to be much better balanced than Pathfinder combats.

One big aspect of this is that monsters are explicitly not built up as PCs, then graded for power level. A desired power level is chosen and actual stats are derived from that. In Pathfinder you can take a CR X monster and stack templates and class levels on it until it's ostensibly CR Y, but actually it's much stronger or weaker than that because your stack has or lacks synergy. Also, Starfinder statblocks are a bit simpler, containing less details of how the sausage was made.

Then we get to starship combat, which is basically the Pathfinder game design paradigm. PC power levels are all over the place, and enemies are basically built with the same rules as PCs, with all the same unpredictable power level stuff. As a GM you're making a lot of internal rolls ("does the NPC captain support the NPC pilot or gunner, and where do the computers go").

5/5 ⦵⦵

Thursty, have you though about changing scenario design so that starship combat might be the best option but not the only option for the players. (Starship encounters seem to take less then a page of space so scenario word count wouldn't be a big issue).

Things like players have to accomplish 3 of 4 goals and one of those is a starship combat. Or players are on a 12 hour time limit going around the sector with the enemy starship takes up 3 hours instead of 1 hour by going through it, etc.

I've played but haven't run all the scenarios. The only scenario I know of where Starship Combat is a players option is in the Special. One of the early scenarios the one with the drugged up rich kid I know starship combat happens if the players fail a lot of skill checks but it's not really a player's option.

4/5

roysier wrote:

Thursty, have you though about changing scenario design so that starship combat might be the best option but not the only option for the players. (Starship encounters seem to take less then a page of space so scenario word count wouldn't be a big issue).

Things like players have to accomplish 3 of 4 goals and one of those is a starship combat. Or players are on a 12 hour time limit going around the sector with the enemy starship takes up 3 hours instead of 1 hour by going through it, etc.

I've played but haven't run all the scenarios. The only scenario I know of where Starship Combat is a players option is in the Special. One of the early scenarios the one with the drugged up rich kid I know starship combat happens if the players fail a lot of skill checks but it's not really a player's option.

I have played in an AP where the starship combat was avoidable if the science officer made a sufficient computers check to fox the enemy scanners. The intent was that the enemies would only attack if their scanners read that we were smuggling off something we were not supposed to have. Maybe something like that could be written into certain scenarios.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

RealAlchemy wrote:


I have played in an AP where the starship combat was avoidable if the science officer made a sufficient computers check to fox the enemy scanners. The intent was that the enemies would only attack if their scanners read that we were smuggling off something we were not supposed to have. Maybe something like that could be written into certain scenarios.

One scenario has the space combat avoidable if you sneak in and sneak out of the place. (that same fight is also avoidable simply by overcharging the engines and running away)

⦵⦵

Starfinder Superscriber

Okay, I just finished running 1-3, which apparently a lot of people have horror stories about, and I can see why...

Spoiler:

1-3 Yesteryears Truth: I just ran this with a party of 4, 2 players were literally brand new (first game), 2 were experienced players. I macro'd out literally everything I could to try to make the experience easier on them. The macros helped them easily things like DC's and stats (for their ship) as well as had links to all the rules so they didn't have to keep checking handouts. If I hadn't this combat likely would have taken 2+ hours to complete. They were low tier and chose the level 2 Drake (basically, the two experienced players demanded it). None of the characters had really built for starship combat. They missed on 4/5 of the missile attacks with the launcher. Technically, it was 5/6 as the gunner used his Promotional Re-roll on the 2nd one and failed the reroll too.

They did figure out immediately to ignore the drones and focus on the platform though. After a couple rounds, they just stopped moving and went toe to toe with the platform, with the Science Officer targeting Weapons every round to reduce the number of Drones it could drop. It took a little over an hour to complete, but luckily the drones had a lot of bad rolls and they made it through. Noone except the level 4 character playing down had a gunnery bonus over 3 though.

They all seemed to have fun, though it felt odd that this was honestly the most efficient way to handle it under the circumstance. I played the platform as being too 'dumb' to run away and it stayed in range where it could launch a drone and the drone could get to them every round that it was capable of dropping a drone. It just diverted power to shields and targeted their power core. The drones got really unlucky on attacks and never got past the first crit threshold.

As a GM, I found this combat more interesting than most, but again, it was pretty obvious by round 4 or 5 that unless something fundamentally shifted, they'd probably win the fight, and I really think we need a tool in many of these scenarios to call the combat at that point. It dragged on for another 20-30 minutes after that. The scenario took 4:15 or so to complete, including mustering and breaks.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

4 people marked this as a favorite.
roysier wrote:
Thursty, have you though about changing scenario design so that starship combat might be the best option but not the only option for the players. (Starship encounters seem to take less then a page of space so scenario word count wouldn't be a big issue).

This is a really tricky proposition for a few reasons. Namely, the extra encounter adds word count to a scenario, and even though a starship encounter is generally smaller, you need to factor in all the associated supporting text and development text that allows GMs to choose option A (starship) or B (non-starship). From a storytelling perspective, it also means we have to structure our narratives so starships aren't always required, which can be a hindrance if that assumption isn't default true.

Making starship combats optional also potentially leads to a really awkward situation where one player at the table signed up for a Starship tagged scenario with their ace pilot, but then the other players at the table override them to skip the encounter. It's not something that we talk a lot about (I should seriously consider writing articles about this kind of thing) but "table peer pressure" is a very real development challenge, where we have to set things up so there isn't undue bullying that occurs. Introducing a "starship combat is optional" mechanic could lead to a lot of people ticked off based on those choices.

That being said, there' some encounter structures that I think are possible for potentially alleviating some starship combats. #1-07 has some interesting options in this regard.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

On the subject of "choose which direction you want to take" as a scenario element; this was done recently in

Spoiler:
King Xeros of Star Azlant

I'm not really a fan of how it was done there. We had very very little information on which to base our decision, so it was almost random. And then you have two separate parts of adventure, only one of which will be used and for which you can get a reward.

Now, a choice of whether to do something by A) an elaborate infiltration on the ground, requiring stealth or social skills, or B) a hard entry via starship combat; that's an interesting choice.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

3 people marked this as a favorite.

An odd perspective that I hadn't thought about, mentioned to me by one of my players when I mentioned this thread today after running #1-16. To him, the fact that it's harder to make PCs who are good at ship combat is actually a good thing in that it encourages more well-rounded characters versus singleminded min-maxing.

I found that to be a rather novel way of looking at the whole thing, so I wanted to present that here.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Without digging into changing any rules, I think some improvements that could be made would be:

* In the Guild Guide, under character creation, point out to people that they should think about what starship role(s) their character can cover. ("When making a character, think about what you'd like to do in combat, how you can contribute out of combat, and what your starship role would be" or something like that.)

* Design a new character sheet layout that prominently includes space to put down your stats relating to starship combat. If people notice a big white space in the middle of their character sheet, it might encourage them to wonder about what goes in there.

Dataphiles 4/5 ⦵⦵

Mike Bramnik wrote:

An odd perspective that I hadn't thought about, mentioned to me by one of my players when I mentioned this thread today after running #1-16. To him, the fact that it's harder to make PCs who are good at ship combat is actually a good thing in that it encourages more well-rounded characters versus singleminded min-maxing.

I found that to be a rather novel way of looking at the whole thing, so I wanted to present that here.

A very astute point.

For some reason, some optimizers tend to complain that their character is bad in starship combat. I am an optimizer as well, but I understand that there are costs to hyper specializing. In fact, I have a mystic that is terrible at any starship combat role. And I am 100% okay with that. Starship combat is not a new part of this system.

On the other side, if you hyper specialize to be great in starship combat, why is it a surprise when you do well?

I have zero qualms with optimizing characters (as I do it myself). That said, I see no reason why anyone should be surprised by how their characters interact with the system. The system is not fluctuating. It is not changing. It is actually fairly easy to math down your chances on a regular basis.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Mike Bramnik wrote:

An odd perspective that I hadn't thought about, mentioned to me by one of my players when I mentioned this thread today after running #1-16. To him, the fact that it's harder to make PCs who are good at ship combat is actually a good thing in that it encourages more well-rounded characters versus singleminded min-maxing.

I found that to be a rather novel way of looking at the whole thing, so I wanted to present that here.

I think you'll find that a lot of min-maxers actually short-circuit when they have to optimize for multiple things (skills, combat, starships) instead of only one aspect. Making trade-offs is a whole new puzzle.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein Main South aka schattenstern

2 people marked this as a favorite.

It might be the local metagame but all our powergames seem to have no problems in spaceship combat:

It helps tremendously that our local meta depends largely on unsing Longarms on everyone but the operative so everyone can at least be a decent gunner as they will have maxxed or near maxxed DEX. It also "helps" that the class most players view as the "strongest", the operative, has to actively try to be bad in spaceshipcombat as most operatives will have DEX maxxed and most of them will also have ranks in engeneering and computers.

But after a game with newer players yesterday I completely agree that a "starhip" part of a character and/or pregensheet would help a lot with explaining what to roll and especially where to find it.

Quote:
Thursty, have you though about changing scenario design so that starship combat might be the best option but not the only option for the players. (Starship encounters seem to take less then a page of space so scenario word count wouldn't be a big issue).

Please do NOT do this, this will not only mess up the slot time most of the time but it will also lead to toxic discussions between the players who like Starship combat (and might have invested quite a bit into it) and those who hate it.

Additionally as a GM those "choose 1 of 2 encounters tend to be double the work for next to no benefit.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Explicitly calling out starship role and stats on a pregen sheet? That's a very interesting idea!

⦵⦵

Starfinder Superscriber
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I think you'll find that a lot of min-maxers actually short-circuit when they have to optimize for multiple things (skills, combat, starships) instead of only one aspect. Making trade-offs is a whole new puzzle.

I can't speak for all min-maxers or even most, but this min-maxer loves that I have to optimize for multiple things. The puzzle of balancing multiple competing needs is one of my favorite things about this system.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mike Bramnik wrote:

An odd perspective that I hadn't thought about, mentioned to me by one of my players when I mentioned this thread today after running #1-16. To him, the fact that it's harder to make PCs who are good at ship combat is actually a good thing in that it encourages more well-rounded characters versus singleminded min-maxing.

I found that to be a rather novel way of looking at the whole thing, so I wanted to present that here.

I have always tried to make my characters capable in starship combat. I have succeeded with most but my Mystic and Solarian would have had to sacrifice too much of their non-starship combat effectiveness to this. This is because both use Strength instead of Dex for their attack stat and both have relatively low skill points and a poor selection of Starship combat skills.

The more I think about it, the more it seems the primary problem is that what class you are just doesn’t make ANY difference in Starship combat outside of how it effects your skills. There are no spells, Solarian revelations, or class abilities that would help you with Starship combat. I understand part of the problem with this is that an ability that would be useful in Starship combat would normally be useless outside of that, and since Starship combats are uncommon, this would be a waste. But, again, I will point to one of my favorite feats, Sky Jockey, as a way to go. This feat gives you usable benefits in standard, vehicle, AND starship combat. Giving players a choice of feats, spells and class abilities that did this sort of double (triple) duty should have been a core element of the game, but sadly isn’t.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mike Bramnik wrote:
An odd perspective that I hadn't thought about, mentioned to me by one of my players when I mentioned this thread today after running #1-16. To him, the fact that it's harder to make PCs who are good at ship combat is actually a good thing in that it encourages more well-rounded characters versus singleminded min-maxing.

I'll take the almost-but-not-quite opposite viewpoint here and say "the nature of Organized Play combined with the mechanics of starship combat result in more min-maxing and less diversity in characters."

The problem arises when people do try to min-max with starship combat in mind, particularly in an Organized Play environment. While I'm not on board with the "all that matters is the pilot and gunners" philosophy some posters have, I will agree that you can't be very effective without a good pilot and good gunners. In a home game you can have characters specialized for different roles. If 6 players show up to an OP game with great Science Officers - but no one has a good pilot and no one has a good gunner - starship combat is going to go a long time.

So you end up with a lot of players deciding "I'll make a good pilot/gunner, just in case." The optimization for both roles is the same: high Dex and max pilot ranks. Since you are maxing your Dex, that means a preference for Dex-based classes since you already have the stat.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kevin Willis wrote:
Mike Bramnik wrote:
An odd perspective that I hadn't thought about, mentioned to me by one of my players when I mentioned this thread today after running #1-16. To him, the fact that it's harder to make PCs who are good at ship combat is actually a good thing in that it encourages more well-rounded characters versus singleminded min-maxing.

I'll take the almost-but-not-quite opposite viewpoint here and say "the nature of Organized Play combined with the mechanics of starship combat result in more min-maxing and less diversity in characters."

The problem arises when people do try to min-max with starship combat in mind, particularly in an Organized Play environment. While I'm not on board with the "all that matters is the pilot and gunners" philosophy some posters have, I will agree that you can't be very effective without a good pilot and good gunners. In a home game you can have characters specialized for different roles. If 6 players show up to an OP game with great Science Officers - but no one has a good pilot and no one has a good gunner - starship combat is going to go a long time.

So you end up with a lot of players deciding "I'll make a good pilot/gunner, just in case." The optimization for both roles is the same: high Dex and max pilot ranks. Since you are maxing your Dex, that means a preference for Dex-based classes since you already have the stat.

Unfortunately I have to agree. While the question "what is a really awesome min-maxed character" has a very large amount of good solutions, the question "what is an awesome min-maxed character that's good at starship combat" has a far smaller and much less diverse set of solutions. It restricts you to characters strong in mostly dexterity or sometimes intelligence. The narrow scope of what makes for a useful character in starship combat has a cramping effect on what makes for overall good and fun builds.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Namely, a lot of characters are strength based melee. Melee just has a lot more moving parts for people to play with than ranged, which is mostly just stand there attack and damage. Melee has positioning, interesting combos, and stat to damage (or two stats to damage...)

But it takes up strength and con. Which doesn't leave you with a starship skill stat. It also sucks up all of your feats or you need to wait 2 levels for some feat tree to kick on.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein-Main aka GreyYeti

Around here str/con melee chars are quite rare, most people go for dex/int ranged combat and skills - we have a high amount of operatives and ranged soldiers.
This might be the reason why space combat is considered rather easy in my region.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

4 people marked this as a favorite.

One of the big points i keep forgetting to mention is that a little optimization either way tends to tip starship combat toward blowing something away or a three hour tour. Why? The shield regen.

Imagine a vampire with 100 hit points and fast healing five.

If you do 10 damage per round it takes 20 rounds to kill him.

Increasing that to a mere 12 damage per round drops the rounds to 15.

Increasing that to 15 (which assumes your envoy is half the gunner as your other gunner) drops it to 10 rounds.

So if Roysiers starship troopers have a three round fight, even a marginally less stellar group could easily be there for 5 or 6 rounds or even more with bad luck. (like someone said, waiting for 2 rounds in a row to hit so they could do some hull damage) They'll probably still win, but a 2 hour fight goes from "ugh, starship combat" to the fun sponge being set to Sponge Bob.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Nils Janson wrote:

Around here str/con melee chars are quite rare, most people go for dex/int ranged combat and skills - we have a high amount of operatives and ranged soldiers.

This might be the reason why space combat is considered rather easy in my region.

I submit one of the reasons you might see more dex/int builds is because of the existence of starship combat. Which would lead credence to the idea that the existence of starship combat actually has a detrimental effect of the diversity of builds.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein-Main aka GreyYeti

Bill Baldwin wrote:
Nils Janson wrote:

Around here str/con melee chars are quite rare, most people go for dex/int ranged combat and skills - we have a high amount of operatives and ranged soldiers.

This might be the reason why space combat is considered rather easy in my region.
I submit one of the reasons you might see more dex/int builds is because of the existence of starship combat. Which would lead credence to the idea that the existence of starship combat actually has a detrimental effect of the diversity of builds.

I think it is more a side effect of the ground play meta.

Many PCs around here go for long arm proficiency to be able to deal some damage and a higher DEX also adds to your AC in light armor so DEX is just more attractive than STR. And with all the skill checks happening in sfs scenarios getting a few extra skill points from a bit of INT doesn't hurt either.

And as i said the 2 most common classes around here are operatives, which are just the best class for being good at everything without any big weaknesses; and ranged soldiers, which are very easy to play while still being strong in combat.

51 to 100 of 133 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Organized Play / Starfinder Society / Starship Combat Challenge levels All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.