Thoughts on Archetypes?


Starfinder Society

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Kevin Willis wrote:


This moment kept on giving to me both in the long and short term.

Long term, I proudly point to this moment every time someone complains about the fact that every single one of my characters has archetypes instead of (as they complain) "the good abilities."

This quote got me really thinking about Archetypes in Society, and I thought it would be enlightening to have a discussion about them. Why some people like them, why some don't, which are considered good, which are considered bad, and why.

I currently have only one character with an archetype, but he is one of my favorites.

Overwatch is a Cyberbor Starfinder Data Jockey Android Operative, Hacker Specialization 5. Should be level 6 by the end of the month. So far he's lost one exploit for Fast Retrieval. I chose Mysticism for the ability.(" I don't bother to learn about inane mystical mumbo jumbo. If I need to know I'll Google it.") At level 6 he will get System Guru instead of another exploit. At level 9 he will get Tactical Analysis and his trick attack will be delayed. He chose Alien Archive as his 4th level exploit.

I haven't really had much opportunity to apply what he's gained from the archetype yet, neither am I really hurting from the loss of exploits. Alien Archive was the only one I really wanted because it complimented the purpose of the archetype extremely well. There are a few others that I like, but none of them really feel like must haves except Uncanny Shooter, and he can pick that up at level 8. Between System Guru from the archetype and Elusive Hacker, he'll have both a 50% chance of a Mulligan on countermeasures, and a roll twice on any computer who's tier is no more than half his level. We'll be playing Data Breach sometime in the next few months and I feel like that Scenario was written for him. A hacking/espionage Dataphile mission? Sign me up!

Probably the only thing that hurts is at level 9 I'm forced to make a choice between Trick attack and Tactical Analysis, and even if I choose to Trick Attack my damage increase is delayed thanks to Tactical Analysis. Makes me wish the envoy improvisation Hurry, or Haste, wasn't so restrictive on the bonus move action. But I still see potential value in making it where my allies can bypass some of the enemy's resistances. Especially at higher levels.

The Steward officer looks like a fun archetype, but I haven't experimented with it.

The Augmented archetype looks really strong, with it's ability to supercharge personal upgrades, cheaper and more augments, if Overwatch wasn't a Data Jockey he would have been an Augmented. I haven't had the chance to play an Augmented yet, but a friend of mine has. He hasn't told me how he's liking it so far though.

What are everyone else's thoughts on Archetypes? Do you have a favorite? Has there ever been a time where an ability granted by an archetype came in clutch? Would love to hear what you think!

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Arcehetypes are by and large absolutely terrible for non soldiers. (although I understand some of the smaller ones work well with technomancers)

The problem is twofold: 1 is that they replace abilities. The other is that starfinder generally has a meh ability you need to pick up as a prerequisite for a really good ability (like get em to improved get em) meaning you're putting picking up that good ability out past levels where starfinder doesn't usually get. They might be balanced out over 20 levels, but for the levels you'll play they are a horrible trade.

The flavor options that you pick up can be gotten another way. Archtetypes don't add flavor. Players do. The only thing an archetype does is mechanically let you meet the flavor. They don't do that very well. If you want to be a steward, poof you're a steward.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
The flavor options that you pick up can be gotten another way. Archtetypes don't add flavor. Players do. The only thing an archetype does is mechanically let you meet the flavor. They don't do that very well. If you want to be a steward, poof you're a steward.

...the counterpoint to that is if you want your flavor to have an in-game effect, it helps to have the archetype when you're petitioning the GM. In one scenario that Hmm ran for me, I was able to get circumstantial bonuses to dealing with the Stewards because my character had the Steward Officer archetype AND a law-enforcement Profession. If I just said, "oh yeah I'm a Steward," without backing it up with a sacrifice, I wouldn't have gotten those considerations.

I'll grant you that this is all nebulous and not hard-and-fast rules, but I think that having the mechanics to back up your flavor is important, when possible.

Another example; he isn't even 2nd level yet, but my Solarian Hellknight Order of the Pike will lose all of his Revelations until level 8, but will get heavy armor, free Demoralize debuffs on attacks, and Reach on his Stellar Weapon... more importantly, he'll be able to legitimately claim status as a Hellknight beyond reproach if it ever comes up in a Society Scenario (already planning a Jadnura replay for a certain library-themed scenario...).

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Archetypes have always replaced abilities though, even in Pathfinder. I had a fighter who went 17 levels without weapon training, and he's considered one of my most useful characters.

The ability tax isn't such a big deal for a lot of characters because those same improved versions are level locked. If I had, say, an envoy Steward officer, I could still have improved get em by level 6, which is when it becomes available anyway. This incidentally also gives the envoy easy access to long arm proficiency and specialization without the feat tax, which I hear is a complaint people have about Envoys.

Now an envoy augmented that may be a problem since that archetype replaces abilities at 2, 4, and 6 but I'd argue that getting 2 throat augments ( maybe Wildwise and technopathy node, letting you talk to animals and computers) is pretty cool, plus half price, (this example applies to any augment system, not just throat.)
The archetype would also give an envoy extra utility in spending resolve, which they do a lot, and then at level 9 can use their charisma PU to not only get an additional +2 on all charisma based checks, but can grant a free reroll to allies as a reaction. It may not be a +2 to hit and damage, but that's useful. And you could still see improved get em by level 8, only a 2 level delay, meaning by the time you get Over locked systems you can give them both the +2/+2 and the reroll.

I understand the desire to hold onto as many abilities unique to your class as possible, but I really don't think it's as detrimental as some people might think.

Though I would say that if that's the main complaint against Archetypes, maybe there is something they could do to make Archetypes more appealing. Like This:

Feat: Extra Class Ability wrote:

Prerequisites: Character level 3rd.

Benefit:select a new class ability normally granted by your class at every even level (I.E. Mechanic Tricks, Envoy Improvisations, Etc.) For which you qualify. You may take this feat again at 7th, 11th, and 15th level, each time selecting a new class ability for which you qualify.

Alternatively, select one archetype you possess. This feat restores an ability replaced by the archetype, without removing the ability given by the archetype. This restores the ability replaced at the lowest level, and restores an additional ability for each additional time this feat is taken.

That would reduce the burden of ability loss in exchange for a feat,and also grant additional abilities to characters who want them. (Effectively taking the extra discovery, extra rogue talent, extra exploit etc. Feats from Pathfinder and roll them into one.)

Silver Crusade ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Right now I have on a character with an archetype and I already made a couple of sub-optimal choices with her (melee mystic... yeah, but I am having fun).

I have toyed with other concepts, but for a lot of classes quite a number of archetypes just eat up too many of my class granted choices.

It really depends on what you want and how relevant the action economy and choices are to you.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

Right now I have on a character with an archetype and I already made a couple of sub-optimal choices with her (melee mystic... yeah, but I am having fun).

I have toyed with other concepts, but for a lot of classes quite a number of archetypes just eat up too many of my class granted choices.

It really depends on what you want and how relevant the action economy and choices are to you.

Which archetype, and which of your choices would you consider suboptimal? Just for the sake of the discussion.

Liberty's Edge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I feel that if you're not playing a Solider that they are *typically* not ideal for the most part. A lot of the benefits can be replicated with gear or class features elsewhere. As a Soldier it's just bonus feats that you really miss in standard Society Play, anything else and you end up narrowly defining your scaling.

That said, I do enjoy their flavor and my soldier is a Knight of Golarian :D

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Reading over Starfinder Data Jockey again, and if my math is right, just realized that at level 7, I can use Computers to identify any creature with a guaranteed 32 on the check. That's nuts.

Sczarni ***** ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

My Technomancer is a Starfinder Forerunner. Magic Hack being delayed until Level 5 didn't hurt him; level 5 is when Hacks become fun anyways. That being said, I talked a friend out of Starfinder Forerunner for his Operative because losing three talents probably isn't worth it.

All archetypes *can* be useful, but the combination and trade-off has to be appealing to the right player.


I'll be honest, I keep looking at archetypes for my characters and deciding they just don't suit. For the most part I feel like the archetype abilities just aren't worth the lost abilities for most of my builds. But I'm not against archetypes as a mechanic.

Though I do have a similar situation with multiclassing; I get looked at as weird because most of my characters are multiclass. So I can understand the concern over the reception of a mechanic.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

I feel like Starfinder was built in such a way to strongly discourage multiclassing. There are feats that can give you the effective spell casting of a one level dip in technomancer or mystic, plus multiclassing pushes back specialization, forcing you to either wait for that damage increase or spend the feats to get it. Plus the rules around having multiple stats for key ability score get muddy when you have two different scores.

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

The reason I like archetypes is that they give you a chance to do something a little bit different. Like that vehicle repair I did. Or rolling twice while hacking. Or using that spellgem I found without using it up.

Look, I certainly won’t deny that if you’re going for “the most optimized combat character” archetypes are not your friend. Fortunately, the combat math in Starfinder is different than it is in Pathfinder and - at least at this stage in the system lifecycle - there really isn’t much difference between “combat optimized” and “capable combatant.” Which leaves plenty of room to have a character with offbeat abilities that may not turn out to be useful in every scenario, but are absolutely perfect when they come up.

In the interests of full disclosure this is coming from a guy who also loves PFS prestige classes. If it can do something unique, I’m interested. Even if unique is not equal to powerful.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Oh right, the other part...

Starfinders archetypes apply to all classes paradigm means that you have to balance the archetype for where it's the best trade (the soldier) Which means when you're comparing it to a class where you pretty much give up your entire class ( like the envoy or solarion) it becomes a really bad trade.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Kevin Willis wrote:

Look, I certainly won’t deny that if you’re going for “the most optimized combat character” archetypes are not your friend.

Stormwind much?

The backhanded insult by implication that people have a problem with archetypes because they're combat focused munchkins isn't any better than doing it outright.

An ability can be powerful, useful, relevant, interesting AND flavorful. It can compliment and work with a class and characters existing abilities and be balanced for what you're giving up. And it should be. If it's not that's a game design problem.

And there is a game design problem. The every archetype is playable by every class paradigm hurts archetypes.

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he reason I like archetypes is that they give you a chance to do something a little bit different. Like that vehicle repair I did. Or rolling twice while hacking. Or using that spellgem I found without using it up.

Vehicle repair really should just be an engineering check to play macguyver. It will very likely be a spell at some point. The arcanium sage is one of the better archtypes for spellcasters.

I love imaginative off the wall bizarre builds. I don't want to do 11nty billion points of damage I want to make the dm go "what?" so hard his head explodes. My pathfinder characters have an adorable bundle of fluffy death, a druid that runs at half the monster manual and belly rubs it, and a transmuter who turns the party into a form refered to as "Princess twilight carnage" Even with starfinders limited build options I have a high strength ysoki operative , a high int skill monkey mystic and an envoy gym teacher who fires a zamboni.

But they have to work. A metal axe is useful but boring. A wooden axe is unique but useless. Making some sort of gnomish lever axe? That's hard.

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

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:
Look, I certainly won’t deny that if you’re going for “the most optimized combat character” archetypes are not your friend.

Stormwind much?

The backhanded insult by implication that people have a problem with archetypes because they're combat focused munchkins isn't any better than doing it outright.

Well, no. It wasn't intended as an insult, and it wasn't a response to any other post. I firmly believe that the abilities you get by taking an archetype are usually not as powerful in combat as what you give up. There is absolutely nothing in that sentence or the rest of the paragraph that says you can't be a roleplayer if you like powerful characters. (Ask anyone who's played with my Evangelist of Irori or my Mindchemist. They'll tell you I've got zero room to make that accusation.) I said "in Starfinder you can give up the most powerful abilities for less powerful abilities with minimal impact to your combat effectiveness."

BigNorseWolf wrote:
An ability can be powerful, useful, relevant, interesting AND flavorful. It can compliment and work with a class and characters existing abilities and be balanced for what you're giving up. And it should be. If it's not that's a game design problem.

And that's where we disagree. I don't think it's a game design problem just because an ability isn't powerful, or isn't always relevant. It's great when it's all those things but it can also be fun while being just one or two of those things. Even leaving aside the old saying that "balance is in the eye of the beholder," I don't believe that it's wrong to be asked to give up an ability for something that is less useful but fills a different design space.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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Kevin Willis wrote:
I firmly believe that the abilities you get by taking an archetype are usually not as powerful in combat as what you give up

It's not just about combat. Again, you are straw-manning the objection down to people number crunching combat monstrosities and that is NOT the limit of the complaint.

An envoys ability to add a D6 to diplomacy is not usually a combat ability. But you delay or give it up for an archetype. A mystics spells aren't all combat oriented, again, you give some up to use an archetype. An operative can take the gadgeteeer ability to pull the bat shark repellent out of their..utility belt.

The trade is usually bad even if you're looking for versatility and ability rather than combat power. Its not about combat its about utility isn't a good response if the utility isn't there.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

You only delay or give up your skill expertise at level 9, and you'll have three already at that point: sense motive, and any two of Diplomacy, bluff, culture, computers, disguise, engineering, intimidate, and medicine. If I'm giving up yet one more skill to add 1d6+2 to in exchange for a 9th level archetype ability, which is arguably the coolest ability in any archetype, well that to me sounds like a net positive.

Plus a lot of Archetypes actually don't have a 9th level replacement.

A thought I had, which I think would be Archetypes that people would use, could be called cross class Archetypes. This makes the "Archetypes usable by any class" a benefit.

Rough example:
Dabbling Envoy
Prequisite: no levels in Envoy
Lvl 2 : Use Your Words
You gain expertise as a first level envoy and gain skill expertise in either sense motive and one of the skills selectable from the envoy's skill expertise list that are based off charisma. Gain access to one Envoy Improvisations. Treat your class level as your Envoy level for the purposes of what improvizations you qualify for

Lvl 6: Oral Tradition
Gain one expertise talent associated with your skill expertise, and one additional envoy improvization. Treat your class level as your Envoy level for the purposes of qualifying for Improvisations. Increase your Expertise die to 1d6+1

Lvl 12:A Minor in Science
gain an additional skill expertise in an Int based skill from the skill expertise list, and an additional Envoy Improvization, using your character level as your Envoy level for qualifying.

Lvl 14:Graduate of Hard Knocks.
gain one expertise talent associated with the skill you selected for skill expertise at level 12. Gain an additional envoy improvization. Increase your expertise die to 1d8+2

It's rough, and envoy was probably the worst class to try to make a fun archetype out of, but an idea. Would allow you to get specialization and other class abilities that aren't replaced on time.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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Sean Castor wrote:
You only delay or give up your skill expertise at level 9,

Missing the point.

The canard that people dislike archetypes for reducing combat effectiveness at the cost of utility and versatility ignores that there are non combat and versatility enhancing options inside the classes.


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To put bluntly what I don't like about archetypes (and this may or may not help the wolf); for many classes you're giving up your customisable options for a locked in sequence of abilities. If those abilities fit the concept better than the options for customising, I'll take it, otherwise I see no reason.

⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Minnesota—Woodbury aka Wishing Wells

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This feels like a very "you love it, you hate it" topic, though I'm inclined to land in the middle with a Marge Simpson response of I think they're neat. They do have their advantages over standard class options, but at the same time and without proper planning they can gimp a character's build. That said, making a character that in entirely unique from the "norm" of standard builds is a feature I'd rather they keep and explore more even if I don't make use of it, and having more options isn't never a bad thing in the early stages of a game's life.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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I feel like archetypes could work in theory, but the current ones are just a bit too feeble.

The thing to keep in mind is that archetypes are focused, base classes have broad potential. You should be able to gain some power in special situations by giving up some general power, but not too much. Don't want the rest of the party to be redundant when the story fits your concept, don't want to be useless when your archetype isn't that relevant to the current scenario.

What I want from the archetype design process is that:
1) Someone has a design for a specific archetype ("Cult X member")
2) Comes up with some basic ideas for abilities and levels
3) Tentatively pins them to particular levels
4) Looks at existing classes what abilities you'd be giving up/delaying for those powers
5) Refines the abilities gained to be comparable in power to the things you give up.

Repeat 2-5 until a good balance is found. You can make abilities more powerful or weaker, split them up or consolidate them to influence how many original class abilities you're trading, and shift ability levels to alter which original class abilities you're trading.

A good result should leave the character noticeably strong in stories that play to concept, a bit weak in scenarios that don't play to it at all, and on a fairly even footing in the majority of scenarios where your concept has some traction but isn't the main topic.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Lau Bannenberg wrote:

I feel like archetypes could work in theory, but the current ones are just a bit too feeble.

The thing to keep in mind is that archetypes are focused, base classes have broad potential. You should be able to gain some power in special situations by giving up some general power, but not too much. Don't want the rest of the party to be redundant when the story fits your concept, don't want to be useless when your archetype isn't that relevant to the current scenario.

What I want from the archetype design process is that:
1) Someone has a design for a specific archetype ("Cult X member")
2) Comes up with some basic ideas for abilities and levels
3) Tentatively pins them to particular levels
4) Looks at existing classes what abilities you'd be giving up/delaying for those powers
5) Refines the abilities gained to be comparable in power to the things you give up.

Repeat 2-5 until a good balance is found. You can make abilities more powerful or weaker, split them up or consolidate them to influence how many original class abilities you're trading, and shift ability levels to alter which original class abilities you're trading.

A good result should leave the character noticeably strong in stories that play to concept, a bit weak in scenarios that don't play to it at all, and on a fairly even footing in the majority of scenarios where your concept has some traction but isn't the main topic.

I feel like, at least IMO, that's why the Data Jockey, the Steward officer, the augmented and the arcanimirium sage* are the best Archetypes right now.

Data Jockey is about identifying monsters and turning that into combat power. Sometimes you use it a lot, sometimes only a little, but at some point you're going to have to identify some baddie. Especially for mechanics or hacker spec operatives, this archetype has huge potential. Probably best for drone mechanics who focus on supporting their team. That way they can give tactical advice if they want, or shoot, either way their drone can fight. An operative will have to weigh if it's better for them to trick attack, or to help the party bypass resistances, but the benefit of a hacker spec operative is at level 7 they are pretty much guaranteed to identify.

Steward officer gives both extra face tools like languages and consolidates face skills in combat, with a little help for identifying humanoids (one of the most common enemy types) then extra combat ability at level 4 is good, while the demand surrender can force either the enemy to give up or at least allow the party to dogpile on to the enemy.
If there's ever a time you have to fight, or a time you have to talk, this archetype can help Good for soldiers who want to have some face skills, though the 4th level ability isn't going to help them much. Great for Envoys, what with the first ability giving more power to their two biggest skills (diplomacy and culture). The ability to pick up long arm proficiency and spec leveling up also gives the envoy more combat potential without a feat tax. It's also the only archetype we currently have that let's the envoy get it's bread and butter Improved get 'em at the level it becomes available. The idea of doing a demand surrender, ready an improved get em, then demoralize
and get another +1 if the readied action is triggered. Thematicallyy speaking a detective spec operative would also work, though the ability score may be difficult to work out as at that point Dex, int, Wis and Cha are all important to the build.

Augmented is just... It's cheaper augments, more augments, extra utility from spending resolve, and one of any six great buffs depending on what PUs you have. Cheaper and more augments is extra utility, combat power, whatever you need. Overclocked systems is the same, depending on if you are overclockingba mental or a physical PU. Clearly best for soldiers, but there's argument for nearly any class with this one.

Arcanimirium sage is caveated that it's only useful to a class with a spell list, AKA Mystics or Technomancers. But magic item scholar gives the sage identify for free, and access to hybrid or magic items at an earlier level. Spell gem manipulation basically just means you can buy spell gems that have a spell not currently known and let you cast it once per day without expending the gem, effectively expanding your spells per day to a certain extent. And then you get to wear a third magic item. Again, great for mystics and technomancers. Would like to see more archetype that more directly benefit the spellcasters.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

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sean castor wrote:
but the benefit of a hacker spec operative is at level 7 they are pretty much guaranteed to identify.

At level 7 you're just about guaranteed to get your sneak attack off anyway.

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Steward officer gives both extra face tools like languages

In a campaign with a limited number of languages you could run into and no other alternative but to learn a language the hard way this would be valuable. In a universe where the things you really need to talk to speak a language you can't possibly know, and there are an infinite number of languages, a magical or technological translator becomes mandatory. Once you have that item (spell throwing weapon + gem of share languages, tobgues,universal translator), your number of languages spoken becomes almost irrelevant.

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while the demand surrender

relies on an offensive readied action (which you should never take) and only provides a very small bonus. You could do the same thing just delaying until after you're shot and then unloading on him. Or skipping your turn singing meet me at St louis. has the same effect as a ready against 1 person.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

BigNorseWolf wrote:
sean castor wrote:
but the benefit of a hacker spec operative is at level 7 they are pretty much guaranteed to identify.

At level 7 you're just about guaranteed to get your sneak attack off anyway.

Quote:
Steward officer gives both extra face tools like languages

In a campaign with a limited number of languages you could run into and no other alternative but to learn a language the hard way this would be valuable. In a universe where the things you really need to talk to speak a language you can't possibly know, and there are an infinite number of languages, a magical or technological translator becomes mandatory. Once you have that item (spell throwing weapon + gem of share languages, tobgues,universal translator), your number of languages spoken becomes almost irrelevant.

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while the demand surrender

relies on an offensive readied action (which you should never take) and only provides a very small bonus. You could do the same thing just delaying until after you're shot and then unloading on him. Or skipping your turn singing meet me at St louis. has the same effect as a ready against 1 person.

You missed my point. I said identify not trick.often times being able to identify enemies weaknesses strengths and resistances beforehand can help a party develop a proper tactic instead of wasting rounds firing ineffective weapons or blundering right into the enemy's special attacks. Additionally tactical acumen at level 9 allows me to turn that ridiculous identify into a buff for the whole party. Sure I could probably trick attack against their Dr 4 reduced damage or I can reduce that DR and ER for the whole party.

Also just for playing a character who's all about gathering Intel it has a lot of appeal.

the universal translator requires 10 minutes with a willing member of the species. you don't always have that time. Tongues is a high-level spell. Share language again requires the target to be willing and when encountering random species they may not be willing to let the strange alien creature touch them for one reason they can't understand.granted knowing known languages isn't going to help with that either but neither will your solutions if the alien species you are encountering doesn't trust you. And really why would they? when it comes to languages in the known pack world's being able to already speak that language is a lot better than wasting a first-level spell sharing a language known. That's if your party has a technomancer or mystic and if they actually learned that spell. I've seen a few spell casters at my tables and very rarely do they prioritize language spells.

But aside from that I'm talking about being able to use culture in place of life science for humanoids and monstrous humanoids and diplomacy in place of intimidate to demoralize. With 90% of the enemies you fight being some kind of sentient alien race a significant portion of the enemies that you will see will be humanoid are monstrous humanoid. Being able to use diplomacy to demoralize as well means that that's two more skills that you don't necessarily have to spend skill points on. the archetype is called Steward officer. The stewards police The pact worlds. Generally you're going to play a character who's going to be doing a majority if not all of their explorations in The pact worlds with that sort of character. In a home setting your GM can give you an idea of what sort of campaign to expect. In society play you can just choose to play a different character for scenarios that do not take place in The pact worlds. For the job it's supposed to do it does it really well.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Sean Castor wrote:


You missed my point. I said identify not trick.

Sorry, thought you were talking about a specific operative combo

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often times being able to identify enemies weaknesses strengths and resistances beforehand can help a party develop a proper tactic

Being slightly better at identifying creatures isn't that big of a deal.

Being able to save skill ranks is nice, the problem is that once you dump points into life science they're more or less stuck there when the data jockey ability makes them neigh irrelevant.

Without this ability monster identification still happens. (And probably happens faster. Even a data chip is going to require a non mechanic to sit there looking at his ipad for a round or two)

Other people (and probably the data jockey themselves) still have other skills and can identify creatures without this ability. They're just better at it.

Being able to pool all your bonuses into 1 skill and then use that skill for other skills is neat. But you can't compare that to not being able to identify creatures at all because there are other ways of identifying creatures. The ability only makes you BETTER at it, the question is how much? Yes, a sports car gets me to the store, but if i want a sports car or a jeep I don't compare a sports car to walking i compare it to every other car in the lot.

For the purposes of identifying creatures your skill int mod and training bonuses are usually good enough. For an operative taking ten and the operative bonus and full ranks will always be enough (if its not? Shoot your slowest party member and then Run)

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Additionally tactical acumen at level 9 allows me to turn that ridiculous identify into a buff for the whole party. Sure I could probably trick attack against their Dr 4 reduced damage or I can reduce that DR and ER for the whole party.

It's a pretty meh buff in starfinder. Its very easy to use an energy weapon, and more importantly its easier to use different energy weapons. If you have a flame doshko and are fighting Molten Man you just whip out the cryopike instead.

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Also just for playing a character who's all about gathering Intel it has a lot of appeal.

Which you can do with a boatload of int and ranks. I don't know why people think that the "ordinary" levels of skill have to be ordinary and flavorless.

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the universal translator requires 10 minutes with a willing member of the species.

The device requires 10

minutes of observed conversation to gain enough information
to operate. The device then acts as a rudimentary translator

Or sneaking into their camp and leaving it duct taped under the aliens dinner table and getting it in the morning. (or with desert if you have a really good stealth score)

Or steal their cable and let the translator watch sesame street.

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Share language again requires the target to be willing

It doesn't. Whaping someone with a glowing hand gives them a save to avoid it (and probably isn't the best way to start off first contact) but it works if they miss the save. My space shaman has literally slapped some sense into many a reluctant alien that way, mid combat.

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and when encountering random species they may not be willing to let the strange alien creature touch them for one reason they can't understand.granted knowing known languages isn't going to help with that either but neither will your solutions if the alien species you are encountering doesn't trust you.

Tongues is high level but works (you cast it on your envoy, he explains the situation to the locals. if he can't convince them to take a share language spell ya'll are probably hosed anyway) Yes, my mystic has it.

You can usually diplomacy the aliens into taking a share language
(I use an N +1 mechanic. My star shaman starts off with a handshake to a party member. Then he casts token spell and shakes the party members hand again. Then puts his hand out to the alien and hopefully shakes their hand, then casts share language and puts his hand out again)

And sometimes they can cast it. Magic is a known quantity in the starfinder universe and some of them can recognize the spell if not cast it themselves.

ALL of those options failing is... pretty unlikely. The aliens speaking that one extra language you just happened to pick up... far far less likely.

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Being able to use diplomacy to demoralize as well means that that's two more skills that you don't necessarily have to spend skill points on.

Given SFSs ad hoc skill checks the party face skipping on a social skill seems like a bad idea. Those skills do other things besides demoralize.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

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Being able to save skill ranks is nice, the problem is that once you dump points into life science they're more or less stuck there when the data jockey ability makes them neigh irrelevant.

you get that ability at level 2. In society You can rebuild your skill points out of those knowledge skills at level 2 when you pick up the archetype. Even if you don't, sense says that if you're going to be using computers from now on, why put more ranks in it. So you should be wasting few, if any, skill ranks.

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Without this ability monster identification still happens. (And probably happens faster. Even a data chip is going to require a non mechanic to sit there looking at his ipad for a round or two)

it says having access to the Infosphere or a downloaded data set you can use computers to identify. It doesn't say the check takes any more time than normal. All armor's have a personal communicator built in, which among other things have cameras and wifi, and in the vast there are library chips. It's basically the equivalent of me going "Hey Siri, what's this monster I'm fighting?" If something that was normally a free action took two rounds there would be zero reason for the ability to exist. The ability is called fast retrieval, not grandpa's first iPad.

And that's ignoring the fact that I can use those skills for things other than knowledge checks as well, just that at level 2 I can only choose one of them. I get more with leveling up.

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But you can't compare that to not being able to identify creatures at all because there are other ways of identifying creatures. The ability only makes you BETTER at it, the question is how much? Yes, a sports car gets me to the store, but if i want a sports car or a jeep I don't compare a sports car to walking i compare it to every other car in the lot.

first, I never said the other party members would not have knowledge checks. Second, it's a vast improvement. It's not a sports car vs a jeep. It's the batmobile vs a wagon. At level 7 my Data Jockey could guarantee identify ANY regular creature cr 14 or less. Rare creatures cr 10 or less. Other's knowledge checks can't guarantee. The skill may be absent or under represented at the table (from my experience Mysticism is the biggest victim of this) being able to guarantee an identification up to twice my cr is worlds better. Excessive, maybe. But it would be unfair to downplay it as comparable to attempts by others.

Keep in mind too my Data Jockey didn't even max int. He started with a 14, because I started with an 18 dexterity. And he's looking at guaranteeing knowledge checks on high cr enemies.

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For the purposes of identifying creatures your skill int mod and training bonuses are usually good enough.

not really. Identifying monsters gets a lot harder at higher levels compared to Pathfinder because the DC is 10 + 1 and 1/2 x c r rather than just 10 + CR. At low levels it's not hard but the DC goes up by 3 every 2 CR. even with full investment in skill ranks it's outstripping you by 1. Operatives edge only keeps up for the first few levels, same with bypass and the only knowledge skill bypass works on is engineering. So it gets to a point where you have to rely more on rolling well than one's skill modifier. (Though for me alien archive helps with that.)

Also, just a reminder that Mysticism is a wisdom based check.

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For an operative taking ten and the operative bonus and full ranks will always be enough (if its not? Shoot your slowest party member and then Run)

I'm confused, are you talking about trick attack again? Detective and explorer get culture, and hacker gets engineering, but otherwise you have to spend a feat on skill focus to be able to take 10 on knowledge skills. Or, be a hacker spec with Data Jockey to use computers for all of them, but then that's using the archetype again.

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It's a pretty meh buff in starfinder. Its very easy to use an energy weapon, and more importantly its easier to use different energy...

that's admittedly hard to argue against since the trade off for me is an extra trick attack die. But I will clarify that it bypasses all resistances, Dr and er. The only thing that makes it meh for me is distributing that buff to my teammates makes me an envoy for the round, when arguably trick attacking might be better. I'll see when I get there, who knows, stripping away resistances for my team may be oddly satisfying. If I don't like it, can always just go back to trick attacking. For me, fast retrieval gives me the fantasy of "I can get whatever Intel you need" just fine.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Sean Castor wrote:
you get that ability at level 2. In society You can rebuild your skill points out of those knowledge skills at level 2 when you pick up the archetype. Even if you don't, sense says that if you're going to be using computers from now on, why put more ranks in it. So you should be wasting few, if any, skill ranks.

At 8th, 14th, and 20th levels, you can select an additional skill to use with this ability.

That's wasting a bunch of skill ranks or it's burning a good chunk of your career where you can't do those skills.

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All armor's have a personal communicator built in

Now that's a really good argument for it happening as fast as any other Identification.

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Second, it's a vast improvement. It's not a sports car vs a jeep. It's the batmobile vs a wagon. At...

So there's no room for a passenger or groceries and nowhere to attach a babyseat...

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At level 7 my Data Jockey could guarantee identify ANY regular creature cr 14 or less.

How useful is that really? Is that something you need to regularly do?

It's overkill. You can ask about vulnerability and DR. Those are really all your character can actively change. You can ask about the special attack but your chances of being able to do much about it are pretty slim. "Don't let it grab you..." doesn't help much because there's no active ability you can take. Your melee characters aren't going to forgo attacking it with their secondary fighting style (which probably wouldn't help anyway)

There's diminishing returns on the information you get.

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I'm confused, are you talking about trick attack again?

No, I was making a joke about what to do if your level 7 runs into a CR 14 critter. (shoot the slowest party member and run)

It's like saying your ruler is accurate to the nanometer. It's NICE but.. how often is that relevant?

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

BigNorseWolf wrote:


That's wasting a bunch of skill ranks or it's burning a good chunk of your career where you can't do those skills.

I'm an operative, I've got skills to burn. But beside the point I don't need to worry about using Mysticism outside knowledge checks because it has only two other uses: crafting magic/hybrid items and identifying spells. Life science's only other check is making medicinals, and I think biotech? Engineering is the most useful skill outside of knowledge checks, and as a hacker I get free ranks in it every level so I don't need to concern myself with it. So I chose Mysticism. At 8th level I'll choose life science, although I don't really care about making medicinals, and 14th and 20th levels I don't really care because that's so far away.

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Now that's a really good argument for it happening as fast as any other Identification.

thank you, I think so too.

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So there's no room for a passenger or groceries and nowhere to attach a babyseat...

not that it's relevant, but the batmobile in most depictions does have passenger seating, and in the Walmart commercial they put groceries on it. As for a baby seat, my character is an Android and has no need for such things.

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It's overkill. You can ask about vulnerability and DR. Those are really all your character can actively change. You can ask about the special attack but your chances of being able to do much about it are pretty slim. "Don't let it grab you..." doesn't help much because there's no active ability you can take. Your melee characters aren't going to forgo attacking it with their secondary fighting style (which probably wouldn't help anyway)

"Spread out, it has AOEs"

"It has reach, don't shoot from there."
"Don't waste your invis spell, it has natural see invisibility."
"Don't get too close, it has an aura of confusion."

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It's like saying your ruler is accurate to the nanometer. It's NICE but.. how often is that relevant?

it means that, as a hacker, it scales passively with me and I don't have to put any more effort into it. So I can almost always guarantee that I'll always identify, and top off other skills that may need more help.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

sean castor wrote:
I'm an operative, I've got skills to burn.

As a quick side note/public service announcement every character should have 1 rank in mysticism just so they can move their own weapon fusions around

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"Spread out, it has AOEs"
"It has reach, don't shoot from there."
"Don't waste your invis spell, it has natural see invisibility."
"Don't get too close, it has an aura of confusion."

So how often is that going to be relevant?

1) the creature has something more complicated than its a robot get your zappy weapon

2) the ability is something you can do something about (the point of fireball is everything is fireball formation)

3) No one in your party makes the same check

4) and this is a biggie, the die roll is such that your goatee wearing alternative mirror universe you-without-the-archtype would miss the check but the you with the archetype would make it. Starfinder characters (especially operatives) have skill ranks to spare. The problem is getting another bonus on top of that to really be relevant with a skill (a problem the operative natively solves). How much of a discrepancy are you planning between your computer skill and your other skills that this matters?

Now what does that cost?

You lose your second AND 6th level exploits... and operative exploits are awesome. They're not as dependant on version/improved version as envoys but but there are still a number of prerequisites or awesome combos (like innoculation+stalwart) You also lose a d8 sneak attack which kinda hurts. But its not a unique ability like the exploits are.

You technically get system Guru, but this looks like a non ability. How often are you hacking a computer half your level and missing?

Tactical advantage would almost always be a waste to use, it would almost always be better to yell out "use a non fire weapon on the fire elemental" and just trick attack for a bigger hit bonus.

Dataphiles

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I feel that given this conversation seems to pertain heavily to "Hacker Specialization Operatives", it might be useful for me to interceede with my reasonings(being one such person) for not taking the "Data Jockey" Archetype. I will preface with the admission that the flavour of the archetype does match who I was, and to some extent who I still am. However, lets get down to business:

My skill ranks. While not something one should advertise, It does appear pertenent to this conversation:

Ranks:
Acrobatics 7
Athletics 6
Bluff 1
Computers 8
Culture 8
Diplomacy* 0
Disguise 0
Engineering 8
Intimidate 2
Life Science 8
Medicine 8
Mysticism 8
Perception 8
Physical Science 8
Piloting 8
Profession(Professor) 8
Sense Motive 8
Sleight of Hand 2
Stealth 4
Survival 4

Diplomacy is marked with a * as it is my only non-class skill.

Now, the class abilities:

Fast Retrieval:

Like Lone Wolf(an ability I regret getting and have since changed to 'Celebrity' through use of a boon), this ability means that I would treat a list of skills as possessing half my ranks in computers. Given the fact that I have skill points to spare, this was never a problem as I can have full ranks in the listed skills. All other benefits of this ability can be bought with the "Library Chip" item from the same book(which I highly recommend, the ability to take 20 during mission briefings is exceptionally useful)
Instead, I took "Holographic Clones", which has proven to be an excellent defensive ability.

System Guru:

Reroll when trying certain Computers checks on computers of Half my tier or less.
Without putting any effort into improving my skill with computers beyond what my class progression has given me, right now I automatically succeed at these checks. I will need to look into some slight boosts later but it's nothing money can't buy.
Instead, I took "Uncanny Mobility", which increases my field mobility and has also proven to be excellent defensively.

Tactical Analysis:

Possibly the best ability of the lot; Make a skill check with half your computers ranks/ The pertinent Identify skill in order to gain +1 atk(meh) and the ability to bypass some DR and energy resistance.
A note must be made however that you cannot take 10 on this check, ever. so even if you bought Skill Focus(Life Science) in order to always take 10 with it, that does not count here. You are using half your computers ranks(if you didn't want to "waste" skill points) in order to make an identify check.
Consider a reasonable example: L10 vs CR 13. L10 your modifier is 5(half comp ranks) + 5(being generous for Int) + 7(class + Edge) = +17. DC is 28, meaning you need to roll an 11. If you had full ranks, you'd only need to roll a 6. In neither case can you take 10, so it's not 'automatic'.
Even if you do feel this skill check is worth it, you do realise what you're giving up right? You're giving up 1d8 trick attack for ~+5 damage. Just take "Bleeding Trick" and impose that damage constantly(and scaling) without any risk of failure.

Master of Lore:

Congratulations, you hobbled this far on half skill points in the selected skills, so at least one of your allies has taken advantage and boosted the skill, and now you are standing beside or just below their work. This ability is part of why Fast Retrieval is terrible, it actively encourages you to put 0 ranks in the skill in the long run, as when you get it those skill points are not refunded.

In all, The only ability this archetype would give me that I can't get from an item, feat, or boon(yet) is "Tactical Analysis", and it isn't as good as it looks on the surface.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

You are misreading how fast retrieval works. For knowledge checks, you just straight use your computers check. Library chip is nice, and gives you a +4, but isn't the same as just straight up using your computers check. I have a full complement of library chips for each skill so I have justification for fast retrieval outside The pact worlds.

I looked at operative exploits. I don't feel like I'm missing out. The ones I actually want, I have enough openings in the archetype to get.

The non archetype version would not be nearly as good at identifying things with life science, and doing so with Mysticism would be a near impossibility. I have yet to apply fusions to my weapon, so I never invested an actual skill rank into Mysticism. I guess he'd have... Idunno, field treatment? I guess field treatment and innoculation to shore up a poor fort save and having a self heal but I'm not missing it. The ones that I REALLY want, uncanny shooter, I can still get. Hmm, one more though, what would it be... On second thought no on innoculation, it only applies to disease and poison and as an Android I already get a bonus.

Look, I get it. I see your point. Tactical acumen 9.9 times out of ten is simply going to be less dps than just doing a trick attack, and that .1 time will only because my party didn't outfit themselves properly with differing damage types, or were lacking the right fusion to bypass enemies who have like flat Dr, er all. And I'm giving up a trick attack damage die for that. System Guru will be valuable the level I get it to forestall bad die rolls, but the next level I can take ten and if I'm failing a computers check that's guaranteed to be minimum 32-35, that computer isn't meant to be hacked. So I'm only getting value out of it for three adventures, and I'm giving up on exploit for that. Yeah few of the exploits scream at me as something I "gotta have", they don't really seem that game changing, but they would probably see more use.

But the thing is, I really, REALLY like Fast Retrieval. I like the flavor of it, I like that I can use that rediculous computers check to identify anything, I like that now I don't have to put anything in Mysticism because fast retrieval takes care of it. I'm having fun. Yeah, it's not super optimized, and it puts me in a niche, but in that niche I Excel, and as an operative I still function more than well enough. Overwatch has been playing in parties full of 8s as a 5, still contributing and holding his own. I'm not a detriment to my party, and I'm having fun.

Besides I'm past the point where a mnemonic editor would allow me to undo the archetype. So there isn't much value in trying to convince me I made a bad decision. I'd rather think about ways that I can continue to push my vision for this character, that I'll enjoy and the people I play with will appreciate going forward. It's okay if he's not perfect.

Right now im thinking about what feat I will take at level seven. I'm thinking it might be enhance resistance but I don't know what type I would choose. Everyone I play with defaults to damage reduction and that is good but I don't just want to follow along with everybody else.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Thinking mobility, amplified glitch, or skill focus bluff or skill focus sense motive. I only get three more feats, need to make them count.


Sean Castor wrote:
The non archetype version would not be nearly as good at identifying things with life science, and doing so with Mysticism would be a near impossibility.

Atlas-1's Computers, Life Science, Mysticism, Engineering, Medicine, and Physical Science mods are all +19. It is possible for non archetype to do it just as well.(Though this is due to multiclassing to make them class skills, but the "skill synergy" feat would do the same thing)

Sean Castor wrote:
Besides I'm past the point where a mnemonic editor would allow me to undo the archetype. So there isn't much value in trying to convince me I made a bad decision. I'd rather think about ways that I can continue to push my vision for this character, that I'll enjoy and the people I play with will appreciate going forward. It's okay if he's not perfect.

Not trying to convince you to rebuild or anything. Just explaining why it doesn't necessarily suit all Hacker Operatives. I apologize if it came across that way.(as a note, I'm past the point where the editor would help. There is one change I wish I could make but sadly cannot because he's level 8 and the decision was at level 2 xD)

I'd be willing to help pick out a feat, but it's really based on the whole build that you have.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Currently his other feats are weapon focus small arms, because extra to hit never hurts, divine blessing Triune, because being able to hack by touch and communicate with machines sound really cool, and great fortitude, because his fortitude save REALLY needed some help.

Also, I was responding specifically to bnw's hypothetical "overwatch without the archetype."

At his current level he has two ranks in life science, and none in Mysticism. With the library chips he has a 15 to identify using life science, with help from Alien Archive. So without Fast Retrieval his knowledge options are limited. I have a feeling your operative has a much higher intelligence, and also I see differences in how we prioritized our skills. Overwatch is Max ranks in bluff, for instance.

Edit:My mistake, he has skill synergy mysticism/ life science, not weapon focus. So when fast retrieval let's me use those skills to do things other than knowledge checks, I can get the class skill bonus.

***** ⦵⦵⦵

Sean Castor wrote:

Also, I was responding specifically to bnw's hypothetical "overwatch without the archetype."

At his current level he has two ranks in life science, and none in Mysticism. With the library chips he has a 15 to identify using life science, with help from Alien Archive. So without Fast Retrieval his knowledge options are limited.

But without the archetype I don't think you'd avoid putting ranks into the skill and your bonus would be higher. How much higher is your computer skill than a maxed out life science or even mysticism your goateed twin would have? Is that difference and the extra skill points really worth the two best operative abilities you could pick for your character?

I don't mean to dunk on your character but the abilities in the archetype seem to have been weirdly limited and constrained in order to tone down the power without seeming to take into account their opportunity cost to either take or use for non soldiers.

*** ⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Virginia—Portsmouth aka Pogiforce

Without the archetype I would not have much more, if any, skill investment. As of right now using life science would yield a +16, specifically for knowledge checks thanks to the library chip. Computers would be a +17. At Max I would have put 1 rank in mysticism, which would Garner me a Max of 9 or 10 for knowledge checks. If any at all since I likely still would not have made that advancement. Overwatch is both lower level and likely has lower int than atlas. Actually let me count...

So I think atlas may be over or under invested in his skill ranks, as he has 114 and that doesn't divide evenly by his class level. But the closest whole number is 14 ranks per level. Overwatch based on his current intelligence is getting 13 per level when counting specialization.

So I guess it's not that much of a difference, and by level 8 overwatch would have as many skill ranks and intelligence. He just doesn't have them right now. And honestly overwatch would probably put more of those extra skills in espionage skills like bluff and disguise. Aybe more investment in piloting or medicine, piloting likely so if the party doesn't need another competent science officer) engineer but they need another Gunner he can fill that role admirably.

Actually with Max ranks in piloting, with his already max computers and engineering, he'd be able to fill any role on a ship pretty competently. So that may be where my extra skill investment goes

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