Advice on Using the 3 Action Economy in Starfinder


Advice


My group uses the 3 actions system from Pathfinder Unchained that was applied to Pathfinder 2. I would like to see if we could still use it in Starfinder and need advice on which of the 3 options looks most balanced for Starfinder. Starfinder seems to have smaller attack penalty -4 instead of -5, but it's applied to all attacks instead of getting progressively worse 0 then -5 then -10 like Pathfinder.

Original: You can spend a full action to make two attacks, each with a -4 penalty to the attack rolls. These attacks can be made with the same weapon or different weapon pg. 248 CRB

New: When your turn comes up in the initiative order, you can commit up to 3 acts.

Option 1: (Close to Starfinder original) If you commit two acts to attacking they each take a -4 penalty. If you commit all three acts to attacking all 3 take a -8 penalty.

Option 2: (Pathfinder Unchained and 2e Version) Attacks are particularly strenuous and become less and less effective the more you use them during a single turn. The second time you use an attack action (anything with the attack trait) during your turn, you take a –5 penalty to your attack roll. On your third attack (and any subsequent attacks if you have a way to take more) you take a –10 penalty. This penalty is called your multiple attack penalty. The multiple attack penalty applies only on your turn and resets at the end of your turn. Attacks you can make outside of your turn might include their own penalties.

Option 3: (Starfinder penalties using the Pathfinder rules) The first time during your turn that you take an attack action, you roll the attack as normal. Each subsequent attack action taken during your turn imposes a cumulative –4 penalty on the attack roll or combat maneuver check (so the second attack action has a –4 penalty on the attack roll, the third has a –8 penalty).

Option 3 it is more what my group is used to, you hit more upfront but it gets progressively more difficult, and it keeps the Starfinder penalties. I'm worried that it might make combat too easy though. Especially once Onslaught and the Multi-weapon Fighting feats bonuses are applied.

Depending on the choice will be how I augment Operative triple attack, Solarian & Soldier Onslaught, etc.


It seems like the only thing this will do on the PC side is make the majority of your players never attack more than twice in a turn, what with the math being so tight and the ever increasing penalties you’d like to impose. Which some players may or may not even notice, since half the classes can’t attack more than twice anyway, and some builds likely prioritize using a big unwieldy weapon for 1 really solid hit per turn anyway.

On the NPC side, given the rather larger bonus to hit vs possible PC AC ratings, you’re likely going to turn any NPC that was even a medium level threat to your PCs into a blender of death.

So… doesn’t seem like a great idea.


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I was gonna say yeah. Starfinder really isn't balanced for the 3 action system. Even to the point Swift actions are consumed on any full attack. It's more of a 2 action system at best.

Yeah, the math is just too tight to deviate much from how they've set up attacks in Starfinder. At best you're giving monsters more opportunity to blend PCs into paste by letting them attack more. At worst, there's some move action ability a PC can now abuse twice before the only single attack they'd be making anyway.

As an Envoy player, the three big abuses would be Clever Feint, Dispiriting Taunt, and Hurry normally standard would now be do-able in addition to an attack without their higher level upgrades. Hurry in particular is "hey, have an extra action friend".


Not to mention penalties to attack rolls also being penalties to any DC associated with that attack would make saving against anything attack related much easier. Which sounds nice, but NPCs already have a pretty easy time making saves, I've found. They don't need more help.


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Or make full attacks a three action use, and introduce the charge penalties if they move twice before melee/shooting.

It gives everyone shot on the run/cast on the move for free, but that's not too bad. Otherwise the system is pretty similar I guess.


Thanks for the feedback, but I am not really looking for whether it should be done or not. That is the way my group likes to play. I'm looking for if you had to choose one of the options which is the best way to implement it.

So it seems like I am hearing that the biggest problem will be with the NPCs and not the PCs. In that case the tougher penalty sounds like a better option (and more simplified since its the regular Pathfinder option).

Isaac Zephyr thanks for bringing up the Envoy issues. We will probably rule that Envoy Improvisations that are Standard Actions cost (2) and Move Actions cost (1).


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Imnotgoodwithnames wrote:

Thanks for the feedback, but I am not really looking for whether it should be done or not. That is the way my group likes to play. I'm looking for if you had to choose one of the options which is the best way to implement it.

"I'm going to play Russian roulette, should I load one bullet or two?"


Xenocrat wrote:
Imnotgoodwithnames wrote:

Thanks for the feedback, but I am not really looking for whether it should be done or not. That is the way my group likes to play. I'm looking for if you had to choose one of the options which is the best way to implement it.

"I'm going to play Russian roulette, should I load one bullet or two?"

LOL Point taken but at least load it with four so we can all go down together.


You're welcome, but Envoys aren't the only exception you'll need to write.

In particular, you've got the Operative whi already kind of gets the 3 acton economy with Trick Attack. A full action where they make a skill check to flat foot, move, and attack with a bonus all as one. They also gain Quad Attack which you'll need to accomodate the fact they get 4 attacks at normal full attack penalty.

Solarians have Stellar Rush, which is a Standard action charge with bonus damage. 3 actions means 3 of that per turn. They also have things like Plasma Sheath that cost a move but last a round, so giving them extra attacks with bonus damage equal to half their level is going to get scary fast. They also get Triple Attack where their fulls are supposed to give 3 attacks.

Soldiers have a lot of crossover similar abilities to Solarians (Triple Attack, Charge as a Standard).

Technomancers and Mystics would both get spell + shoot every turn. Not considering their magic hacks which likely have at least a few easily abused abilities...

Long story short, you'll need to fine tooth comb every PC and Monster ability and make a call on its action economy. If you're making every Standard Action cost 2, and every Move cost 1 then you've hit the point you should probably just use the base system as built, because that's pretty much how it already is. I can't prevent you from homebrewing it all, but in my own experience just needing to cross-reference DCs from the FAQ page takes up a lot of our game time. If I had to add additional time cross-referencing exactly what my ability's new action economy is my 3 hour table might get through a single encounter per session at best.


Isaac Zephyr wrote:

You're welcome, but Envoys aren't the only exception you'll need to write.

In particular, you've got the Operative whi already kind of gets the 3 acton economy with Trick Attack. A full action where they make a skill check to flat foot, move, and attack with a bonus all as one. They also gain Quad Attack which you'll need to accomodate the fact they get 4 attacks at normal full attack penalty.

Solarians have Stellar Rush, which is a Standard action charge with bonus damage. 3 actions means 3 of that per turn. They also have things like Plasma Sheath that cost a move but last a round, so giving them extra attacks with bonus damage equal to half their level is going to get scary fast. They also get Triple Attack where their fulls are supposed to give 3 attacks.

Soldiers have a lot of crossover similar abilities to Solarians (Triple Attack, Charge as a Standard).

Technomancers and Mystics would both get spell + shoot every turn. Not considering their magic hacks which likely have at least a few easily abused abilities...

Long story short, you'll need to fine tooth comb every PC and Monster ability and make a call on its action economy. If you're making every Standard Action cost 2, and every Move cost 1 then you've hit the point you should probably just use the base system as built, because that's pretty much how it already is. I can't prevent you from homebrewing it all, but in my own experience just needing to cross-reference DCs from the FAQ page takes up a lot of our game time. If I had to add additional time cross-referencing exactly what my ability's new action economy is my 3 hour table might get through a single encounter per session at best.

You make a good argument between on the one hand simplifying too much and I might as well be playing the base system and on the other hand the extra work it will take to homebrew the abilities not found in Pathfinder Unchained and reference them during the game. I think you might have convinced me. Thanks for the advice. We still like the dynamics that the 3 action system provides, so we might just test it out with a one shot to see how broken it is in Starfinder.


Which dynamics of the 3 action system are you liking? Maybe you could come up with some smaller homebrew that would give you that.

For added mobility in combat you could upgrade a swift action to be able to do any move action that only involves moving. So moving another 4 squares would be fine. Climbing a rain gutter would work. But drawing a weapon or reloading would not.

Something like that.


breithauptclan wrote:

Which dynamics of the 3 action system are you liking? Maybe you could come up with some smaller homebrew that would give you that.

For added mobility in combat you could upgrade a swift action to be able to do any move action that only involves moving. So moving another 4 squares would be fine. Climbing a rain gutter would work. But drawing a weapon or reloading would not.

Something like that.

This is a really good suggestion. Ill have to think about this one more.


Pulling a little bit of thread Necromancy here because my group has been looking at similar ideas.

As Breithauptclan mentioned, what are the Dynamics that we like, and it mostly comes down to attacking.

My players are finding the concept of needing to decide before they make an attack if it will be a full attack or a single attack frustrating. They would much rather make an attack, see the result, and then decide if they should attack again or not. Then having that second attack (and subsequent attacks if applicable) take the standard -4 (then -8) penalties.

Obviously this would cause a rise in successful attacks, and therefor damage, so it has me wondering if it is fair that way, or would require some modification to damage or hit point numbers.

Additionally they are finding the lack of a 5 foot step on a full attack to be an annoyance, but that's mostly due to being so accustomed to it from the 3.5/Pathfinder years. I would allow these again, but I an concerned it might put too much pressure on ranged attackers / spell-casters from melee focused characters.


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I would just love to see Swift actions brought back to the old way and NOT count as part of a full-attack/full-action sequence.

Having kip up and not being able to use it with a Trick Attacking ysoki operative diminishes the benefit of having it at all.

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