Howdy all. Looking for some rules classification for our bi-weekly Dead Suns game. I have a gamma rifle which does the irradiate critical. Lucky me, on my second shot I rolled a natural 20. Next shot I rolled a natural 1. We tried to muddle through the rules for each of those situations, but we found the wording confusing.
What I'm thinking is that on a natural 20, the Fort save would be 16 (10 +.5 weapon level +4 Dex bonus) to resist contacting Radiation Sickness, then they take 6 poison damage (DC-10), roll a 13 DC Fort save against the poison track for low level radiation. So subsequent saveds to cure radiation sickness would be at 13 once per day, for 3 consecutive saves on the physical track.
For a fumble you would always use the DC of the weapon, for all saves both initial radiation sickness, poison damage and track, and curing saves. Is this accurate? Our confusion centers around the rules starting that the DC is the weapon's critical DC, but also that it is always low level radiation.
Lastly, the gamma weapons descriptions say that they bypass normal environmental protection. Does that mean that a suit's environmental protection needs to be activated to be effective, or is it completely ineffective against gamma weapons?
Thanks in Advance
The DCs would all be 16, not 13. The specific rule that the save for the DC is the save for the weapon takes precedence over the general rule for low level radiation sickness.
Additionally, the radiation critical appears to skip the normal radiation poison effect, including the damage taken when making the save, and be strictly a save against the radiation poisoning disease, which does not deal damage when attempting the save.
Regarding environmental protections, the normal rule is that the protections must be active to give any benefit against radiation. If there is a specific rule that for this radiation effect, environmental protections don't work, then the armor does nothing. Looking at the item description I'm not sure whether there is intended to be a specific rule about the interaction between the critical effect and armor, or just a justification of armor protections not negating the attack. Personally, I would prefer to read it as a critical effect and fumble effect not being easily negated, but I can't declare that it is unambiguous.
Our first inclination was the same as yours in regards to the specific rule superceding a general rule, but the text for the both effects gives a specific rule and the general in the same sentence, which makes it extremely confusing.
Source Starfinder Armory pg. 30
A radioactive weapon contains unstable radioactive components. When the wielder rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll, she is exposed to dangerous radiation and must succeed at a Fortitude save or be inflicted with radiation sickness. (For radioactive blast weapons, the user must attempt a Fortitude save if any of the attacks are a natural 1). This is considered a low level of radiation. The DCs for this save and the disease are each equal to the weapon’s critical hit DC.
The target must succeed at a Fortitude save or contract radiation sickness. The DC for this disease is equal to the weapon’s critical hit DC. This is considered low- level radiation, regardless of the save DC.
So why make mention to low level radiation at all? That's why we were thinking you make an additional fortitude save against low level radiation for the poison track. Without that damage and the possibility for CON drain, the Irradiate critical would actually be incredibly useless against all NPC's. The first stage does nothing, and you only do 1 save/day. You would need 2 crits against the same target in one encounter to have it be effective at all.
"Gamma rifles direct concentrated bursts of gamma radiation that are strong enough to overcome normal environmental protections, burning targets from a distance, though users of such weapons risk exposure to that very radiation. Many find that the destructive effects of the ray are sufficient to outweigh the risk..."
The statement about risks in conjunction with the overcoming normal protections makes me think they bypass protection, whether it is activated or not. Otherwise you could just turn on your protection prior to combat when you know you're going to use them, thus making it no risk at all, and useless once again against anyone who has activated theirs.
Am I overthinking?
Well, everything to do with rasiation is fairly badly written, and I suspect that some heavy revisions were involved. If you take a look at some older threads with people trying to figure out the irradiate spell, you'll see a lot of confusion.
I can only see the level of radiation being relevant here, in case of immunity to certain levels of radiation, which may exist on a creature, even if armor is bypassed.