Daily Resource Pools: a Fundamental Design Problem for Biohackers?


Biohacker


Hello Paizo Community! Can we take a minute to talk about what I feel is a fundamental design problem with the Biohacker?

I know I'm long-winded, but I've thought about this a lot. Here's a tl;dr, nice and at the top, and you can skip to the last ##### line break at the bottom to see my suggestions if you don't care about reading a bunch of context and reasoning.

tl;dr - { Daily resource pools create an unhealthy and unfun game pattern that goes against a lot of the advances Starfinder made to the Paizo formula. I propose changes to better adapt the daily resource limit to the Starfinder system (by creating fewer Injections at a time, but being able to replenish them at a short rest instead of all at once at a long rest, like a Bombard Soldier grenade), and to create healthier restrictions on ranged Injections (by reworking how you affect allies at range) to remove most frustrating part of the entire class (Failing to beat an ally's KAC as a 3/4 BAB character when using a finite daily resource, like a Breakthrough or a Spark of Ingenuity - you wasted your turn and a very valuable, finite resource. Not fun!). }

The Biohacker does a lot of things differently than the other Starfinder classes. Some of those changes are good, some of those changes are bad. One in particular I feel needs some community discussion is at the very core of the class: The entire class is based around finite daily resource pools. It has so many separate moving pools to keep track of in an in-game day:


  • Injections: Level + KAS mod per day
  • Spark of Ingenuity: 1/2/3 per day.
  • Scientific FoS Breakthroughs: KAS mod per day
  • Superserum: KAS mod per day.

And those are just its flagship class features. So many Biohacker Theorems have their own (Aquatic Adaptation, Field Dressing, Treat Condition, plus a couple higher level theorems that pack a big punch on a power budget, I'm fine with those).

Daily Resource Pools are lazy game design that conflict with many intentional design changes in Starfinder. In fact, the whole class seems to avoid interacting much with Starfinder's unique system or brand identity at all: It doesn't interact with Short Rests, Stamina (except for reduced overhealing with Field Dressing), Resolve Points (Extend Injection is the only class feature that gives the class a way to spend RP), it scoffs at the efforts Starfinder took to avoid forcing classes to be SAD (EVERYTHING depends on your KAS, many times half your KAS, which doubles the problem). In fact, Starfinder expressly set out to avoid all of these redundant "Pool" resources that every PF class had their own copy of: Panache, Grit, Luck, Arcane Pool, arcane reservoir, etc. And now we have resource pool: the class.

But back to the point. The Biohacker is the only non-spellcasting class in the game that has a finite adventuring day. Every other non-spellcaster in the game is only limited by when they choose to not risk taking further damage. The Biohacker is limited by running out of daily injections and costly material consumables.

Envoys can Improvise every round, all day every day. Mechanics either have an all-day drone, or constantly running buffs in their Exocortex with an at-will combat steroid. Mystics have finite daily spell slots, but virtually every connection grants an at-will connection power by 3rd level along with a mixture of static and RP-cost abilities. Operatives can Trick Attack in combat and skill monkey out of combat all day. Solarians have an internal 'pendulum' that creates a "wind up" before their big abilities. Soldiers' Fighting Styles are almost all unlimited use or static abilities -- larger abilities require 10 minutes of prep time. Technomancers have finite daily spell slots, and is the most dependent on their daily resources to function. Very few magic hacks function at-will independently of spell slots or Resolve.

Then comes the Biohacker. Once you've used up your injections, you're not a Biohacker. You're a character with some base stats and some proficiencies with no class features. And that's not intrinsically a bad thing - the Technomancer does it too. But the HOW suffers some problems.

1) When you're using your abilities, it's not as big of a payoff as a spellcaster (compare even second level spells to most injections/counteragents/breakthroughs). They are weaker, shorter duration, and few improve over the course of the game. This means that holding off on using your abilities isn't saying "I'm waiting for the opportune moment to get a big payoff" (where tactical and opportune application is rewarded), it's saying "I'm willing to have no class features now in exchange for not being stuck having no class features later" (where participating is punished).

2) (and I feel this is an important one) The Biohacker is the ONLY class in the entire game that has a risk of failure when using its primary class features on an ally. Biohackers need to beat their allies KAC with a projectile weapon in order to use their major class features outside of melee range.

This is a HUGE problem that must be addressed before release. The class spends its turn (unlike the Envoy, it's not blessed with move-action contributions) attempting to use its Injection class feature to apply a Restorative on an ally (or, god forbid an even more limited Spark of Ingenuity, Breakthrough, or Super Serum), and it has a significant chance to miss. You've then wasted your turn, and your very limited daily uses of the ability.

In my playtest experience, even with Weapon Focus and the Injection class feature (free +1, plus allies are flat-footed), my Biohacker (below level 9) needs to roll a 14 to hit our frontliner after he got his new armor upgrade. That's a 30% chance of success. A whopping 70% chance of failure to use a restorative. This is the same system that streamlined and got rid of spell components, and with it Arcane Spell Failure Chance. And ASF was typically only 10%-30%, and affected spells (which are objectively more powerful).

3) The end of the adventuring day for every other class after when they run out of RP, which means they run out of SP, putting them at risk of running out of HP. This is not the same time as the end of the adventuring day for the Biohackers. Biohackers are forced to finish participating in the game (as Biohackers) when they run out of their daily resources, and those resource pools are not effectively designed to run out at the same time as other players *choose* to stop adventuring due to threat of HP loss.

The Devs can try to aim for a number that matches an "ideal adventuring day", which punishes groups whose playstyle deviates from that value. Or we can try to help them come up with a solution that accomodates multiple styles of play.

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I understand why the class Started with a Finite Daily Resource Pool: it's an effective way to gate some aspects of the class' power so that way the power budget can be shifted into the effects of the injections themselves.

Having a restriction like this helps the ability feel impactful and rewarding for its use. Having an at-will power needs to come at a cost. Take that cost out of the power of the ability, and you now have a class whose flagship ability is weak and unsatisfying to use. Not good. Put too much power into the ability to the point that you can't let your player use it, and now they're without any power at all most of the time/after they do use it. It's a delicate balance.

Otherwise, you need to put other power gates in place: Saving Throws, Attack rolls, making a 3/4BAB class forced to attack against KAC, and so on. By design intent, the Biohacker does not have any abilities that force saving throws on the opponent, making them meaningfully distinct from poisons. Instead, the only power gates are "Overcome KAC with an attack roll" and "finite daily resources".

Other possible power gates exist to give the class other levers to tweak, but will need a narrative-friendly explanation to justify them. You can't just say "you can shoot an injection once every three rounds" to make them more powerful. But, if you had a cool science-sounding ability like "Catalytic Cascade" that requires weak set-up before a big payoff, for example

Catalytic Cascade wrote:
A basic injection that only had a small effect like a stacking -1 penalty on Fortitude Saves, but on the third such injection within a minute, the injected substance hits a critical threshold and drastically affects the target, dealing a significant amount of damage and resetting the accumulated Fortitude penalty. Combined with existing class features that push the class towards a one-attack-per-round action economy, this provides an effective action-gate that rewards set-up over time and helps give each attack an "I'm a Biohacker!" flavor, even if the attacks aren't doing much.

you can get the same result. Not saying "here's an ability that fixes anything", but giving an example of how fluff and mechanics can merge to create more satisfying solutions to the problems at hand.

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So, with all of that in mind, how can we address some of these problems concerning the effect that a daily resource pool has on the Biohacker?

Allow the Biohacker to participate on their party's adventuring day length, not their own. Having to withhold participation, or be unable to effectively participate as a result of your adventuring day length is bad for party health. It feels bad when you force the rest of your party to stop for the day because you're out of stuff, and it feels bad when you're forced to just attack for needler pistol damage each round with your basic damage and no other class features to speak of.

I propose: Allow the Biohacker to prepare a reduced pool of Injections with 10 minutes of time, just like all other analogous Starfinder abilities (Bombard grenade, Arcane Assailant RotEK, etc.). Instead of Level+KAS, have it just be a single smaller number at a time, like 2+Your number of Fields of Study, for example. The smaller pools, like Breakthroughs and Superserums, are now just 1/10-minute break, or one-per-FoS/10 minute break. Now this number is effectively multiplied by the player's KAS over the course of the day since they can replenish them every time the party takes a short rest (which is roughly equal to their maximum number of resolve points, which scales off of KAS mod).

By restricting their usage on a per-encounter basis, it allows power to be shifted into them without worrying about someone spamming all three on an important foe for massive penalties in rapid-fire succession. By spreading them out through the day, we can keep roughly equivalent-to-current total quantities, but force the player to last those benefits through the entire adventuring day. This reduces party friction and should aid the player experience, and allow the power budget to be shifted to be a little more impactful than it currently is.

This is an easily justified change: these cutting edge, proprietary blends are unstable and can't be safely produced or stored in large quantities without going inert. It's basically the same exact flavor text that's already there.

This change alone doesn't solve the Daily Resource Pool problem, but it's a much smaller change that makes it more compatible with the philosophy of the Starfinder system, rather than feeling like a Pathfinder class with sci-fi flavor far away from home. The class would also benefit from a class feature that lets it contribute to combat every round, something that lets it feel like "I'm a Biohacker" and not "I could be any character right now". That Catalytic Cascade that I suggested is a good way

Allow Biohackers to reliably affect allies with Injections. Right now, protecting your allies is anti-synergistic with the class. Improving their defenses (via cover, concealment, spells, or serums) directly makes it harder for you to provide any assistance. On the other hand, the game does not want Biohackers to turn into Ranged Wands of CLW, firing Mk1 Healing Serums every round without a care in the world. It needs a drawback. In the base game, the drawback is miss chance (needing to hit AC), and reduced effectiveness (healing is reduced by the damage that the weapon deals). The abstract benefits of the Injections cannot be effectively reduced. So what can we do?

I propose: Give the Biohacker the class ability to 'call out' to an ally to create an opening to apply their Injection. But enemies can take advantage of this opening.

This might, for example, take a Swift Action on the part of the Biohacker and a Reaction on the part of the recipient ally. If the ally takes the Reaction to create the opening, the Biohacker only can deliver their Injection before the end of their turn by making a special attack roll against an AC 15 (similarly to Covering Fire/Harrying Fire). However, enemies can take advantage of this opening. A readied attack against the target during this trigger treats the target as flat-footed against the attack.

Now there's an ability that is narratively-sound ability that provides as much justification for getting around your allies KAC as a melee Injection, and has plenty of levers to tweak for balance. You can adjust the actions, decide whether or not it take a reaction, maybe make the penalty be "the ally provokes an AoO from enemies that can sense the warning", or maybe "but the target ally is flat-footed against enemy attacks until the beginning of his next turn". It's got drawbacks (the ally guarantees the benefit, but gives up the ability to threaten foes with the punishment of an AoO), and enemies can play around it ("He's low! The medic is going to try to save him, that'll make an opening!"). I think Reaction+AoO is too strong of a punishment combined, but it's a starting point.

This might be a base Biohacker ability (replacing the +1/+2 on attack rolls and largely obviating the need for Friendly Aim, along with making Biohacker 1 a viable dip for classes that want to be able to reliably inject), or it might replace the benefit of the Friendly Aim Biohacker Theorem (requiring a 2 level dip for other classes, but also making it an Alchemist-Infusion-tier feat tax on Biohackers.

This has the promise to be one of my favorite Paizo classes of all time, and I want to contribute what I can to help it be the best it can be. What are your thoughts on the problems I've identified? How do you feel about my solutions? Do you have your own? I want to hear it.


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I think the buffs have to be limited in some way if they're going to be meaningful and different than the envoy and operative.

If you balance the buffs to be all day, you're an envoy

If you balance the debuffs to be all day, you're an operative.

Having more limited per day buffs lets them be more powerful without either eating another classes lunch or being completely obviated by an already existing class.


i like the bit about preventing the "I"m all tapped out. I'm doen for the day. ya'll can go on. I'm gonna hoof it back to the ship." thing. Though I don't know about that method myself. but I agree with the sentiment.
(sidenote: I can't refind it now. but somewhere there was a statement that made me want to remind that Biohackers can elect to do no damage upon using a injection weapon)
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I don't think the swift+ reaction thing is good idea. That create a bit too much book keeping, and can cause weird interactions down the line.
How are you calling out to a brand new person you just met you're trying to help with an injection? What if they're confused or under other mental conditions? what if you're a biohacker who can't speak or something is jamming the radio communications?
I think maybe you could allow for easier ally targetting if you can use the Scanner to help out.

Say.

Swift action to use your custom scanner to adjust to the ally's defenses (force field whatever) and it gives some sorta "to hit reliably" effect of some sort.
Take away the +3 to hit allies theorom and attach it to the Custom Scanner. Needs to be a Swift action because of the current action economy of loading them, or using the scanner for other use.

The flavor is "you adjust the formula to the target on the fly, requiring less of a dose for more of an effect" (formula also being other injectables such as healing serum)
With a normal attempt you had to effectively inject. But with the adjusted version, then the effective dose is smaller. So it works if you inject, but it also works if you hit the armour and the injection aerosilizes (within their air bubble system shield thingy). Which is reprsented mechanically by the +3 to hit allies.

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This would let the custom scanner have another flavor use. Since it really isn't being used much.
The range for this (and really the scanner in general) should really be increased to 60 base. And. allowed to work through a scope/sights (whatever the move action to gain accuracy via an aim).


Zwordsman wrote:
https://paizo.com/threads/rzs42ff9?Daily-Resource-Pools-a-Fundamental -Design

You're correct, Biohackers can choose to not deal damage with their Injection weapons. First sentence of the last paragraph on page 2 of the playtest booklet, under "Injection Expert."

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Zwordsman wrote:

I don't think the swift+ reaction thing is good idea. That create a bit too much book keeping, and can cause weird interactions down the line.

How are you calling out to a brand new person you just met you're trying to help with an injection? What if they're confused or under other mental conditions? what if you're a biohacker who can't speak or something is jamming the radio communications?

I consider your concerns to be features, not bugs. A Confused ally can't make himself an easy target for you, why should it be easier? A human opponent doesn't get the warning from your Lashunta Biohacker's warning via limited Telepathy, or you use a hand signal from out of sight of the threatening opponent. Action-denying status conditions, or greedy allies who take their reactions too early provide tools for play and counterplay. "If I Greater Feint this target, he can't react to his Biohacker to take the serum." "I can bait out an AoO now so he can't accept an injection later". I personally like it.

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The motivation for the change behind the hitting allies is because it resolves an unhealthy play pattern due to interactions with the limited daily resource pool. As it stands, buffing/delivering medicinals/other injectables at range needs a balance mechanic to create a cost for using the injectable from the safety of range rather than the risk of exposing yourself in melee.

The Biohacker is a 3/4 BAB class who's locked into fighting against KAC, and whose close design pushes characters to max their KAS (unlike other classes that want you to split between at least two stats to take advantage of ASIs). The maximum +8 accuracy you can get from the class + weapon focus barely outpaces the loss of BAB, and much less touches the scaling of AC vs. Accuracy in starfinder.

Even up at level 20, after everything's considered, you have 15 BAB + 8 + DEX if you take literally every resource available to you in the game to improve your accuracy. That's 22 + DEX. That means you have a 40% miss chance against an ally in light armor doing nothing in an empty field. 65% miss chance against an ally in heavy armor. And that's before their DEX mods. And that's taking literally every single available resource at your disposal as a Biohacker to maximize your odds of hitting your ally. Oh, and every single defensive benefit your ally takes anti-synergizes with you. Don't give him the +AC restorative, that makes him harder to hit. Don't take tactical cover or advantage of concealment, you're screwing over your support Biohacker.

So you take your 1/day Spark of Ingenuity at level 7, or maybe you're higher level and you're using half of your 2/day sparks. You take a huge portion of your classes power budget, load it into a single syringe, put that in your gun, you aim, you shoot.

And you miss.

And you want to know what sucks about that?

It's not that you missed, your ally can probably survive without the benefit another round.

It's not that your action was wasted. It's a stumbling block, but the battle will keep moving if you didn't do anything for a round. Everyone has those moments.

It's that you're out of luck. Your class potential pooled into one shot, and you missed, and the use is expended, and it's never coming back. Goodbye a significant fraction of your power budget.

And what's worse... There's nothing you can do. You're helpless. You have zero agency to influence the outcome of this result.

You had one shot, one opportunity to use your class feature. And you've have a >40% chance of ending up with nothing but spaghetti even if you take every available option in the game to improve your accuracy and avoid all the many bonuses to AC vs ranged attacks that are there in the real world.

That's worse than the worst ASF a wizard in full plate has to suffer while casting world-changing 9th level spells. And you have no agency to affect the outcome. That's bad game design. And it sucks as a player.

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That's where my suggestion comes in. That's why I feel that having a way to reliably boost a willing ally, and shifting the power gate from "beat your ally's AC" to some other consequence that isn't in the form of a saving throw or attack roll is the best way to do it.

It shifts where the drawback is placed, and most importantly, gives *agency* in the presence of failure.

So the solution I came up with uses existing mechanics ("aid another"-like attack) in a new context, still requires effort from the player (you're subject to soft cover, concealment, range penalties, etc), and shifts the consequence for buffing at range from "%chance to lose the effect" to "you can choose to accept the affect, but if you do you lose your reaction -- now you can't AoO -- and possible take an AoO yourself".

The players are in control, now. You might still have to beat their KAC if they don't leave themselves open for you. But they've got control. They can coordinate and try to position so they can buff safely in a few rounds. If they can't do it, it's not "FML, the dice hate me and I'm helpless in this situation". It's a tactical choice they made. The ally can't risk taking that AoO this round, etc. If only they had just prepared better, tactically coordinated better, then it could have been possible.

That hope, that agency, is what the Biohacker needs to be a healthy class.


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If you want to be sure to boost your ally, you CAN walk over to them and just jab them with a needle. No muss no fuss no attack roll. Its only doing things at a distance that they have to roll.

A bigger problem is that they really don't have a buff worth using. +2 ac is meh: shoot the thing twice in the face and make it die will prevent more damage (preventative medicine)

The haste buff is good but not nearly as good as a caster.


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Having played a biohacker, they're hardly useless when not using their injections. They have nearly full BAB levl accuracy with injection weapons and they can dual wield pistols or shoot a long arm. At level 8 they do full level damage dual wielding with those pistols and hurt.

I never ran out, but for easier fights I didn't burn the good stuff either.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

Having played a biohacker, they're hardly useless when not using their injections. They have nearly full BAB levl accuracy with injection weapons and they can dual wield pistols or shoot a long arm. At level 8 they do full level damage dual wielding with those pistols and hurt.

I never ran out, but for easier fights I didn't burn the good stuff either.

From playtesting biohackers at all levels.. I actually agree with this. Personally buffing is the weakest thing they can do in the game. Biohackers are fully capable debuffers who have higher odds of hitting their enemies than their allies. Not only that but Biohhackers are capable of considerable amount of damage over the course of a fight and this is especially true in a "Boss" fight if they want that "Boss dead." Between Super Serum (only at level 20), heart stopper, and bleeding injection they don't even need a long arm to do damage.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
A bigger problem is that they really don't have a buff worth using. +2 ac is meh: shoot the thing twice in the face and make it die will prevent more damage (preventative medicine)
Rhyltran wrote:
Personally buffing is the weakest thing they can do in the game. Biohackers are fully capable debuffers who have higher odds of hitting their enemies than their allies.

This is beside the point I'm trying to address. Buffing allies, especially defensive buffs, has been the least "optimal" use of actions since the genre's mechanics were codified in 3rd ed. Especially in a game system that has no difference on offense between a character that is at 1 HP and full HP, effective controlling of the battlefield comes from denying enemies actions, and the most effective status condition for that is Death.

Despite that, there are situations where those rules of thumb fall apart, like a clutch heal to prevent your frontliner from falling unconscious. Simiarly, Biohackers may run into situations where providing a buff to allies is the pertinent course of action.

Like it or not, a full 40% of the class is based around buffing allies. For every Counteragent, there's a Restorative. For every selfish power booster, there's a defensive or utility skill. And when you have a core class feature that is broken, you shouldn't just wave it away and say "you shouldn't be doing that anyway". If anything, you should say "that's a problem, how do I make this half of the class as desirable as the other half?"

And that's entirely discounting that there's an entire population of players who don't care about what the optimized style of play is, they just want to play a character who does that. What about a player whose character is a chemically-augmented super-soldier who needs to take drugs to reach peak fighting performance? It's a common stable of sci-fi and fantasy, and you should say "Bah, humbug" to either player just because it doesn't fit into your narrow view of optimal.

I'm not concerned about addressing the power level of the defensive half of the class. There's plenty of content on these boards and elsewhere about how low the power level is there compared to the offensive half and how it's unappealing and unsatisfying in all cases other than the super-haste. Give an ally +1 AC or +2 to skill checks, or give your entire party +15 damage by negating DR? Everybody can see that.

What I'm addressing are the game health problems associated with falling back on old, Pathfinder-era habits of using daily resource pools as a lazy way to power gate signature class features, and their interactions with the poorly chosen risk/reward balance system in place.

The Biohacker is the only non-spellcasting class in the game that can run out of class features. If when you run out isn't carefully managed, you run into problems. Too many, then why have a limit to begin with? Too few, and you're stuck without class features the majority of the game because you're either waiting to use them or you've already used them. If you hit just the right amount with a fixed number, then only games that design daily adventures with exactly that proscription for an "ideal" adventuring day enjoys a nuanced balance and everyone else is left in the dirt. Put another way, a daily limit only limits Biohacker's choices over the course of a day. That only indirectly addresses the real concern of "We want to prevent the Biohacker from spamming powerful Injections with reckless abandon in a single fight, especially stacking them on a single foe" by coercing players to try to save them over the course of a day with the threat of multiple fights.

It's lazy, old-school, and goes against all of the changes the Starfinder system made to improve on the baggage of its predecessors. Starfinder introduced so many systems in place to give developers the tools to address this concern without relying on an out-moded tool. What I am suggesting is to more directly use those new Starfinder tools to put the resource restriction in a healthier state without compromising its combat balance.

Your ability to be a Biohacker is gated between a pass/fail mechanic. This isn't like a Soldier missing his shot. That's just a wasted action, and he has another chance next round. Lame, but whatever.

These are core, signature class features that are consumed as soon as you declare the attempt. You miss, it's wasted for the rest of the day. You have 1 or 2 Sparks of Ingenuity for the majority of your career. 4 or 5 breakthroughs. Injections are more forgiving, but still considerably finite. And if you want to use any of those on an ally, you are the ONLY class in the ENTIRE game who has any chance of failure on using a signature class feature to benefit an ally, and that chance is significant. When you miss, it's gone. You miss enough times, you're out of class features. It's gone.

It's like a Blitz Soldier needing to drink coffee each morning to go fast, but it's a coin flip whether or not the coffee was caffeinated this morning.

I don't just mean that in the "it's a similar risk of failure" sense. I mean that in the "it's a pass/fail mechanic that you have zero control over the outcome over" sense. You can't do anything to enact agency in the game world. You can do nothing to improve your stake in the world to pass that check. You can't reflect on what you did and think "if I had done this better" or "if we had coordinated like this" that you could have succeeded. You can't train or get experience for it or anything. You just roll the dice and hope that lady luck is in your favor. And 50% of the time, she isn't. Pass or fail, it isn't you.

My point regarding using Restoratives on allies isn't "boo hoo, my chance of success is too low, I want to do all the great stuff from safety at range with no consequences". My point is that a %chance based pass/fail check, for any %value, is not the way that the risk/reward balance for a core, signature class feature should be designed at all, especially in conjunction with a finite resource pool.

I hope this clarified my intent with this post better, so that people can see which particular tree in the Biohacker forest I'm trying to point out. Injections need restrictions, but a daily limit of X/day should not be the way those restrictions are imposed.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

I never found this an issue because the biohacker is so useful outside of buffing and debuffing creatures.


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If that's not the point you want to make don t devolve into hyperbole by saying that a biohacker out of injections is so useless that they may as well go home


Kuzcoburra wrote:
I consider your concerns to be features, not bugs. A Confused ally can't make himself an easy target for you, why should it be easier? A human opponent doesn't get the warning from your Lashunta Biohacker's warning via limited Telepathy, or you use a hand signal from out of sight of the threatening opponent. Action-denying status conditions, or greedy allies who take their reactions too early provide tools for play and counterplay. "If I Greater Feint this target, he can't react to his Biohacker to take the serum." "I can bait out an AoO now so he can't accept an injection later". I personally like it.

I can see what you mean by that. But I think that would create far too much of a detriment for the benefit you get from the ability. For this sorta of detriment I feel like the benefit would have to outweigh the myriad (honestly.. quite a few) of things that could cause the situation. Plus. It isn't neeccearily them "holding still" for you to shoot. It is also you having studied how your friends move, their biodynamics and their weaponry. It really is an open fluff ability i think

Additionally, a few of the "anti debuff" effects of the serums would actually be really quite difficult to use.

I think this would push the "never help your allies, ONLY EVER ATTACK!" dynamic.. which is a shame because of the nifty potential of playing a more buffer/off healer. It would effectively induce a retooling of the class to be more plainly offensive for many cases. and create quiet a difficulty for proactive helpers I think.
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I agree on the player agency issues. but I have a different thought for the how. But I think it would be better to build it into a self contained action. Having to rely on another player or NPC having an action removes some player agency. It should soley consist of your own actions to boost things. It is the same as the "auto assumed failure" for will save for various spells. The friends are assumed to auto fail in order to get the benefit. They don't have to take an action to do so.
To accept aid another the
Which is why I'm a proponent of baking in the Friendly Fire (the +3 to hit ally) theorom into a swift action that uses the Classe's special scanner item. (which also should have expanded range)

Sovereign Court

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I think there's another aspect to the limited injections. The biohacker is dependent on physical substances for what he's doing, similar to the alchemist. He's essentially creating things as a class ability, that you would normally have to pay money for.

So I get where the daily limit is coming from. You're only allowed to synthesize so much stuff at a time, you can only keep so much of it fresh. But I agree that I'd rather see pools based around short rest intervals than around long rest intervals. I'm not worried the biohacker will be too much like other classes, it's got a clear flavor of its own.

I'm starting to think ranged buffing should just not be presented as a normal thing to do. It's something you can do if you're desperate or if you have an odd build/odd party. But (unless it's made substantially easier) it should not be presented to people as if it was the normal way to play the class.

I do like the idea of calling out to an ally to open themselves up for a booster shot. I'd make it a bit simpler by just requiring them to spend a reaction, and then you can add some big bonus to your check. You don't need to spend a swift action on it, because shouting something is a free actio. As for effect, maybe subtract their Dex bonus from their KAC instead of adding it, because they're trying to catch instead of dodge. I don't think it needs to involve extra opening up to enemies, spending a reaction is already opening yourself up to enemies (can't take AoOs anymore).

Dataphiles

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I disagree with almost every premise the OP posted.

As far as I know it has not been ruled that the conserving infusion doesn't work on the biohacker's injections.

With the field of study selection and the theorem selection I find it quite easy to make a different biohacker.

With the sheer lack of difficulty of Starfinder at this point, I have felt no need to fire an injection into everything that moves. The pool of resources per day is reasonable.

I personally think that the OP looked at the class and saw something fairly different that they'd prefer it was.


"With the sheer lack of difficulty of Starfinder...".

What do you mean by that "Dr." Cupi?

Dataphiles

I have experienced and heard of no character perma-deaths, let alone no TPKs. Particularly in SFS where this character has yet to buy a weapon (excluding the shrine eye rifle he bought to attach a grappler to) and he's level 10. I have no problems with the low difficulty and enjoy playing all the same. In fact, I appreciate it because it allows for less powerful, creative character builds.


I think it's more of a SFS thing. Because Dead Suns is sure deadly, specially with a CR 5 boss fight at the end of the first book that's supposed to go against a Level 2 party, the encounter only can done if the party has at least a mystic and or Technomancer OR, is in such a good shape that they can take down a life-draining wall-phasing high AC and Dmg beast after fighting diseases, ghosts, zombies and Akatas in a single go... While on zero gravity, of course.

I think this is because people in SFS often have more experience with RPG's and from of I've seen the scenarios are more reasonable to start your experience with the system.


Lightning Raven wrote:

I think it's more of a SFS thing. Because Dead Suns is sure deadly, specially with a CR 5 boss fight at the end of the first book that's supposed to go against a Level 2 party, the encounter only can done if the party has at least a mystic and or Technomancer OR, is in such a good shape that they can take down a life-draining wall-phasing high AC and Dmg beast after fighting diseases, ghosts, zombies and Akatas in a single go... While on zero gravity, of course.

I think this is because people in SFS often have more experience with RPG's and from of I've seen the scenarios are more reasonable to start your experience with the system.

The end boss in book 1 is deadly, but I have to carefully tune encounters afterwards to actually give my players a challenge in combat.


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I played a bioHacker at 4, 8, and 14 in playtest. When I absolutely, positively needed to deliver a boost to an ally (it was always a breakthrough, there was never a NEED for an injection). I walked up and jabbed my ally without an attack roll. Yes, it introduced me to more danger. Yes, it required being within walking, or later, flying range of my ally. But, if my Breakthrough was that much of a game changer, the risk was worth it.
Your adamant refusal to acknowledge the BioHacker has a no attack roll option weakens your argument.


Athos710 wrote:

When I absolutely, positively needed to deliver a boost to an ally (it was always a breakthrough, there was never a NEED for an injection). I walked up and jabbed my ally without an attack roll. Yes, it introduced me to more danger. Yes, it required being within walking, or later, flying range of my ally. But, if my Breakthrough was that much of a game changer, the risk was worth it.

Your adamant refusal to acknowledge the BioHacker has a no attack roll option weakens your argument.

My argument is not that there is not a no-attack-roll option, although I can see how it is misconstrued as such. My argument concerning hitting allies is that "an all-or-nothing, pass/fail dice roll mechanic is poor game design", and the complications are exacerbated by the other factors (limited use on a flagship class feature) mentioned in the post.

The issue is that the mechanic that determines the risk/reward is a dice roll; in particular, you cannot do anything to positively affect the outcome of the roll. If you build your character with every option in the game at your disposal to mitigate your accuracy disadvantage, you are at best working with an approximately 50% chance to be able to use a class features before relative DEX mods are concerned. If you don't take those options, you're even worse off. This doesn't even begin to approach how the current design anti-synergizes with any existing behavior a player would take to improve themselves defensively: every armor upgrade bought, cover and concealment bonus sought, defensive spell cast penalizes players who might otherwise want to benefit from their Biohacker's restoratives or breakthroughs.

When you use the ability as a ranged attack, you roll the dice and it's all in fate's hands. You cannot do anything to meaningfully influence the result. When you fail, you can't reflect and say "if only I had done this, I could have succeeded". There is no opportunity to learn and do better next time. There are no tactics to reward players for careful planning.

This inability to feel like you have any control over the outcome, this lack of agency, is the primary problem I seek to address. The fact that the flagship class feature that the class is bruit around has this problem is significant, and I feel should be addressed.

As the Devs said themselves on their Starfinder Wednesday stream a few weeks back, an ability that is "You have an X% chance of winning the encounter" is bad game design. The numbers and actions can be tweaked so that it is balanced in a purely mechanical sense, but it doesn't change the fact that it is unfun, unrewarding, and has no tactical depth or opportunity for creativity or reward to it. It provides no agency to the game world.

Having to roll against FFKAC to affect an ally with your limited-used, flagship class feature is exactly that set of undesirable properties that they said they do not want in this game.

****

Ascalaphus wrote:
So I get where the daily limit is coming from. You're only allowed to synthesize so much stuff at a time, you can only keep so much of it fresh. But I agree that I'd rather see pools based around short rest intervals than around long rest intervals.

I agree with this. A limited pool is a perfectly reasonable power gate on an ability. My issue with its implementation was that it does not interact with the Starfinder systems that have made very specific and intentional changes to the Starfinder adventuring day, creating a class that has a very different participation day length than all existing classes in the game.

Every other non-spellcasting class in the game can continue adventuring until they run out of RP, so they can no longer replenish their stamina, so they can no longer continue to adventure until they risk running out of HP.

If the Biohacker is to function as a proper Starfinder class, and not a Pathfinder class with Starfinder balance, it must be designed so that its adventuring day ends at the same as the rest of the characters in the game.

Otherwise, you run into friction where one player is "Sorry guys I'm out of juice, we need to stop and sleep for 8 hours so I can make more" and everyone else has to decide "continue down a man or stop and rest for the day after 30 minute of fighting". Starfinder took so many steps forward to eliminate the 5-minute adventuring day, and this class throws it out the window.

A short-rest-replenish mechanic directly achieves this goal, and additionally addresses others (such an over-reliance on the KAS compared to other classes, by shifting the brunt of the KAS-dependence to a soft-dependence on Resolve), while introducing the fewest number of changes to the system.

****

Zwordsman wrote:
But I think that would create far too much of a detriment for the benefit you get from the ability. For this sorta of detriment I feel like the benefit would have to outweigh the myriad (honestly.. quite a few) of things that could cause the situation.
Ascalaphus wrote:
I'd make it a bit simpler by just requiring them to spend a reaction, and then you can add some big bonus to your check. You don't need to spend a swift action on it, because shouting something is a free actio.

Of course. The actual specifics of the risk/reward dynamic can be tweaked: make it not take a swift action so you can still full attack, have the reaction provoke an AoO, or any of a dozen other levers to add/remove/tweak features that can be tweaked to hit the appropriate risk/reward balance.

But the point is to move the risk/reward balance of ranged beneficial injections away from the %pass/fail dice roll that the players can't exert beneficial agency over and into a tactical risk. One that players can play with and coordinate around and learn from past mistakes.

It turns failure from "the dice screwed me over and there was nothing I could do" to "if we had done this better, we could have succeeded".


random sidenote~

I'm pretty sure? in Starfinder using a Swift action prevents a Full Action. Or at least I'm pretty sure?

I was referring to the detriment of making allies have to contribute to you using your main class skill, in that detail it bounds back to your pass fail statement being quite an issue. The RNG nature of it is already the detriment they wanted. I absolutely can't agree with requiring a separate player to be involved in using your class feature at range.
The total Use/day is already a disjointed dynamic with regards to Starfinder, I don't want to stack more on that. I still wish that you could use RP in some way to refill, at the very least your 1/day's if not more.
==========

If they want to hit FFKAC (which I'm stil not fond of)
I want them to build into base lv 1 "choose between these two features"

Innate Swift Action Friendly Fire (swift = +3 insight bonus and or hit KAC)
or.
(I forget the name.. the Theorom at lv 8 that lets you hand off Injections

This way, at lv 1, you can decide if you want the shoot more reliably but still risky type, or the hand off the crew's meds before you disembark kind of doctor.
Building that in at lv 1, and offering the other option as a theorom at lv 8, which allow for more unique versions of the classes.


Swift action will prevent a full action. Its why making something a swift action is kinda meh in this system whereas in pathfinder it was woooo free stuff


Kuzcoburra wrote:
Every other non-spellcasting class in the game can continue adventuring until they run out of RP, so they can no longer replenish their stamina, so they can no longer continue to adventure until they risk running out of HP.

Not that I disagree with all you said, but you are voluntarily eliminating spellcasting classes (so, 3 classes) from your proof.

Spellcasters have spell gems, the biohacker can use some medicinals to get similar results. I don't know if it's the way it is intended, but, it may be a solution to the limited supply of options you have with a biohacker.
At least, I think it needs a thought (there are not enough medicinals right now, but maybe they will add some as the biohacker comes into play).

My 2 cents.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Also, you know, if you burned through all of your serums and such. . . sure, going into the next encounter you have fewer of your cool abilities. However, you also have presumably made the *prior* encounters much easier than if you hadn't used them. So. . . why is there a problem with simply going onward, relying on your secondary abilities, and counting on the fact that your allies have considerable more resources still available than they otherwise would, thanks to your efforts?


Ever since I saw the needler pistol when the game first launched I wanted to play an injection healer. I tried to do this with an envoy where I could have inspiring boost for stamina and my injection gun for HP. It didn't work out at all. as an envoy with only a 14 dexterity I simply did not have the ability to hit my allies. There even was a time where my Ally was unconscious and prone and I still missed. To me the biohacker was an answer to a prayer. I play tested a I think it was level 7 biohacker. In that same game we had someone play testing a vanguard. Shooting debuffs into the enemy was easy enough. But I simply could not hit my vanguard. Even with the plus 4 to hit allies it wasn't good enough. And the fact that how it's supposed to also make this easier for you is that shooting allies they are flatfoot it against you doesn't work when they are an operative or a vanguard that are immune to the flat-footed condition. To me the biohacker felt like a great idea poorly executed. All I want out of the biohacker is a more reliable way to hit allies from range. And I agree that finding a way to avoid the issue of daily resource pools would also be good.


Starfinder Superscriber

If I might add my opinion. As some of you said earlier, paraphrasing:

"Ranged buffs are biohacker's weakest abilities, just walk up to your allies and buff them, dealing with the extra dangers" or "biohackers are better at debuffing enemies so just do that instead"

I think if the devs had intended on the biohacker being used only to walk up to allies to buff them, or only to be used to debuff their enemies, then they would have not included the rules for buffing allies from afar. They obviously realized this needed some kind of drawback for being such a good ability (akin to spellcasting, but without the obvious drawbacks of being a spellcaster). And I think they came up with a rough draft version of the way they wanted to handle that drawback.

But this is a playtest. No idea is a bad idea until it is tested out. I think what the devs would want you to do, is house rule those changes in to YOUR game, and test them out, and report the results. Did it end up being better than the rules they came up with? Was it too good or too powerful? Did it break the game? Did you end up having FUN? Was it more FUN this way or the other way?

I think instead of just telling the OP "your wrong. don't play the class like that, its weak. you should play this way." I think we should offer CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM (not saying nobody has done this, just noticed a few people who shot the idea completely down, and i didn't like it) or come up with some other change to the rules that might work better/funner/more fair, etc.

But hey I haven't even played the playtest classes, so I don't know for sure what would work in which way. I just think you should try it out for yourself and see how it plays out. Then come back here and let everyone know your results. You might even find an even better way that is completely different from this one, or you might find that your original idea was solid and is the One True Way. Who knows? Test it out and let's see how it works.

Anyway, have fun with it at least. That's what its for after all.

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