Unstoppable Strike


Rules Questions


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I was taking an inventory of available soldier gear boosts, and this caught my eye:
Unstoppable Strike (Ex; 7th Level)
Source Starfinder Armory pg. 154
Your attacks with weapons that deal energy damage slice through part of your target’s resistances. If your attack with a weapon does not already overcome the target’s energy resistance, treat the target’s energy resistances as though they were each 5 lower. At 15th level, treat the target’s energy resistances as 10 lower.

Does "If your attack with a weapon does not already overcome the target’s energy resistance" mean that if I didn't do enough damage to get past the energy resistance, I can treat it as 5 lower?

I had been aware, generally, that Unstoppable Strike helped to bypass energy resistance, but after reading it more carefully, it seems like its just so you can do a token amount of damage where you'd otherwise do 0.

Thoughts?


The same language is used for heavy onslaught in the CRB for damage reduction.

I had thought there it was implying vs. DR/silver if your weapon isn't silver, but now I'm not sure.


Yeah, it's the fact that it only works on energy resists, which don't have the whole bypass thing like physical DR, that makes me think instead of just reducing the resist for every attack, it only kicks in when your damage wasn't higher than the resist.


That's a possible reading, but not one that originally occurred to me. I remember thinking it was oddly phrased and deciding that it was a weird way to prevent reducing resistances below zero into "negative resistance" territory.

But given how bad some of the other gear boosts are I now think your interpretation is correct.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Pantshandshake wrote:
Yeah, it's the fact that it only works on energy resists, which don't have the whole bypass thing like physical DR, that makes me think instead of just reducing the resist for every attack, it only kicks in when your damage wasn't higher than the resist.

I would point out that there are mechanics for bypassing ER. They don't come in the former of ER/Whatever, but the alignments fusions, and similar abilities, do bypass ER of applicable targets


I'm thinking it... can't work the token damage way right?

At level 7 (or 11 for heavy onslaught) when you get this... You automatically go past ER/DR/5, and are probably going to automatically get past 10 ER, 15 DR for that version.

So, it would only work to get token damage past ER/DR/20+...

I'm not sure the level 15 versions would ever see use outside an abysmal damage roll.

I suppose it might, maybe see use if you're using vastly under level weapons, operative/small arms, or split damage type weapons... but, if it works that way, it goes from amazing utility to... ignore it and pick something else.


HammerJack wrote:
Pantshandshake wrote:
Yeah, it's the fact that it only works on energy resists, which don't have the whole bypass thing like physical DR, that makes me think instead of just reducing the resist for every attack, it only kicks in when your damage wasn't higher than the resist.
I would point out that there are mechanics for bypassing ER. They don't come in the former of ER/Whatever, but the alignments fusions, and similar abilities, do bypass ER of applicable targets

Yeah, that's true, but since they aren't bound into the ER itself, unlike DR, I'm not sure the intention was for them to interact with this boost. Also, if you bypass an ER (or DR, for that matter) then why would you also want to lower the resist? It's not like it lasts until your next turn so allies can take advantage.

I'm leaning into 'just about positive' that this is just another junk option.


There really isn't anything that bypasses energy resistances though, this isn't DR. Nor does it use bypass in the language. It says overcome, and it also says if that attack does not overcome ER. So my understanding of it is it's for energy attacks which do insufficient damage to overcome the er, you can reduce their er and may do something. Which might be useful if the enemy has huge er, but against enemies with er 5/10 I see this rarely kicking off. If the er is that difficult to overcome, you could always try a different weapon, most characters should have a couple different options by level 7. This honestly doesn't seem that useful. If it didn't have the caveat of "if your attack doesn't overcome ER" then it would translate to a flat 5/10 er reduction, which would be great.as is, it doesn't seem worth the gear boost. You don't get those that often.


When I read it, I just assumed it reduced Energy Resistance (if the target had it) for your attack by the amount listed.

But rereading it, it seems that if your attack would do no damage due to energy resistance, that instead you would end up doing 5 or 10 or whatever damage based on your soldier level and the Unstoppable Strike gear rules.

If that's the case, then it just seems like a bad gear that would have almost no use. Because generally you're going to deal non-zero damage against your target, just heavily mitigated by their energy resistance.

Energy resistance usually caps at 20, before it goes to immunity. So once you can deal 21 damage (easy on melee weapons) it would have no use as you would always "overcome energy resistance".


Really, the only time I could see it being useful is for split damage type weapons vs. doubled energy resistance. If you end up doing 10 fire and 10 acid vs. a creature with resist 10 to both, getting 10 damage through is... okay, but there's also the possibility you do 11 and 11... in which case it doesn't trigger and is even worse.


Pogiforce wrote:
There really isn't anything that bypasses energy resistances though, this isn't DR.

There are quite a few ways to ignore or reduce energy resistance before applying your damage.

1. Unholy/holy/axiomatic/anarchic fusions
2. Divine Judgement (Divine Champion archetype) ability
3. Tactical Analysis (Starfinder Data Jockey archetype) ability
4. Penetrating Attack feat
5. Penetrating Spell feat
6. Focusing Membrane biotech augmentation
7. Divine Blessing (Abadar, Iomedae, Pharasma) feat

I'm probably forgetting one or two.

Pogiforce wrote:
Nor does it use bypass in the language. It says overcome, and it also says if that attack does not overcome ER. So my understanding of it is it's for energy attacks which do insufficient damage to overcome the er, you can reduce their er and may do something. Which might be useful if the enemy has huge er, but against enemies with er 5/10 I see this rarely kicking off. If the er is that difficult to overcome, you could always try a different weapon, most characters should have a couple different options by level 7. This honestly doesn't seem that useful. If it didn't have the caveat of "if your attack doesn't overcome ER" then it would translate to a flat 5/10 er reduction, which would be great.as is, it doesn't seem worth the gear boost. You don't get those that often.

This I all agree with.


Really, this gear boost is so underwhelming that I find myself wondering if how we are interpreting the language is not the intent. This may need an FAQ.


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I'm pretty sure we've got it right, but might as well hit that FAQ button.

Not that I think that will help, we'll all be complaining about how bad the writing is in Starfinder 2 long before Starfinder 1 gets a new FAQ.


Garretmander wrote:
Really, the only time I could see it being useful is for split damage type weapons vs. doubled energy resistance. If you end up doing 10 fire and 10 acid vs. a creature with resist 10 to both, getting 10 damage through is... okay, but there's also the possibility you do 11 and 11... in which case it doesn't trigger and is even worse.

It's a really weird effect where rolling minimum damage could actually be better than rolling something higher. If minimum would stick you under the enemies ER and thus allow you to deal 5 or 10 damage due to the gear boost.

Otherwise you would have a range of damage rolls where it would be worse to roll than rolling something less.

The whole thing is weird.

The more I think on it the more I believe the intention was for it to straight up reduce Energy Resistance against your attacks by the stated amount, which makes it moderately useful. The other option is just kind of insane and unintuitive.

Sovereign Court

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My reading there is that if you don’t already have some way to reduce the ER from other things (equipment, spells, etc) then you can reduce the ER by the set amount. I’m not sure if there are other things that can do that, but they might be future proofing for other options so they don’t stack.

Ie you get ER reduced by x amount each time, unless you have something else in your options which already reduce ER.


This not stacking with the feat penetrating attack and similar effects makes sense.

If that was the intent, the language is really far off.


I'm fairly positive that the intent of the gear boost is to reduce Energy Resistance if you haven't already reduced it to 0. The way it is written is to stack with Penetrating Attack.

It's the only way it would be worthwhile, and the likelihood of the other interpretation even triggering is incredibly remote (when do you ever do so little damage with a weapon attack that it doesn't exceed Resistance on an appropriate-level enemy?


It would be great if that was how it was supposed to work, I just can't get there (or, more accurately, I don't see my GM supporting that interpretation.)

Luckily I won't hit level 7 on this character for a little while, so I've got plenty of time to argue it with him or just take melee striker and call it a day.


The most reasonable reading is that it takes 5 off the DR of the thing you're hitting but taking off DR won't make it do extra damage.


So the benefit would be if someone was full attacking, the first hit removes 5 ER, kind of at the end of the attack-damage cycle, and then a subsequent hit would benefit from the reduced ER? Am I picking up what you're putting down, BNW?


I don't think you are. Nor would that interpretation be supported based on how it's written.


Pantshandshake wrote:
So the benefit would be if someone was full attacking, the first hit removes 5 ER, kind of at the end of the attack-damage cycle, and then a subsequent hit would benefit from the reduced ER? Am I picking up what you're putting down, BNW?

Nope. The thing has 5 less resistance minimum of Zero. I think it was written to keep you from dealing more damage to something with fire resistance 3 than fire resistance 5.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Nope. The thing has 5 less resistance minimum of Zero. I think it was written to keep you from dealing more damage to something with fire resistance 3 than fire resistance 5.

If that was the intent, then they really botched the wording. They could have just written " Reduce Energy Resistance by 5, (minimum zero) against your attacks against EAC." Though even that seems unnecessary since I've never heard of negative Energy Resistance.

Honestly, given the name of the ability, and the way it's worded, I think how we read it ( ER reduction only if the ER prevented the attack from doing damage) may be the intent. Hence unstoppable strikes.

ER Fire 20 monster soaks a 18 damage fire attack.

Soldier: Cocky aren't ya? You think you can stop me?!

Unstoppable Strikes kicks in, Soldier does 3 Fire damage

Soldier: That's right! My strikes are Unstoppable, baby!

I think that was the fantasy they had in mind with this ability, though as we have already mentioned repeatedly, that would be extremely underwhelming, unpredictable in effectiveness and situationally useful at best. I don't know why they didn't just say "Your energy attacks bypass 5 of your opponent's ER" as that would be more consistent and useful. Maybe they wanted to maintain the paradigm that kinetic attacks are generally more dangerous/harder to pull off but more rewarding, whereas energy attacks are easier/safer but do less damage compared to similar KAC weapons. (At least, that's the paradigm from my point of view, especially since from my experience enemies seem to have ER or Immunities more often than they have DR.)

They may have tried to balance this ability to be a utility for energy users without changing the paradigm, and as a result overbalanced it into something virtually unusable.


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Well, the feat Penetrating Attack says that you reduce a targets ER and/or DR by 5 against your attacks.

So we have soldier gear boosts, one for melee and one for ranged, that have different wording. My first thought would be since they have different wording, they're intended to do something different.

Which isn't even taking into account that using 2 gear boosts to almost emulate a feat (or, hell, maybe to exactly emulate a feat?) is also really poor. Even if these boosts were worded how we think they're supposed to be (flat ER reduction), why the hell would anyone use 2 of their 4 boosts to emulate a feat, of which a soldier will get 20?


Level 7 is a lot earlier than level 12.

Still no excuse for heavy onslaught in that case though. Especially since if it did work that way, the language pretty much guarantees they don't stack.


Garretmander wrote:

Level 7 is a lot earlier than level 12.

Still no excuse for heavy onslaught in that case though. Especially since if it did work that way, the language pretty much guarantees they don't stack.

True, level 7 for the Strikes, which even though it doesn't call out melee only in the text, it having 'Strikes' in the name says to me that it's a melee boost.

Then Heavy Onslaught at 11, at which point, depending on how you interpret these boosts, you've either spent 2 boosts to almost approximate half a feat, or you've spent 2 boosts to exactly mirror half a feat.

I guess if you were a; a melee only soldier, and b; these boosts work like the feat, then this would be an ok pick if you weren't in a game that ran to 12. But barring that specific circumstance, everything else about these boosts just seems bad.


Pogiforce wrote:

If that was the intent, then they really botched the wording.

Is that in line or in opposition with your experiences with paizos writing?

Overcome energy resistance could mean "do any damage at all" "more dakka" to the target, or just "you don't bother with this damager reduction/energy type" "right dakka" to the target.

Quote:
They could have just written " Reduce Energy Resistance by 5, (minimum zero) against your attacks against EAC." Though even that seems unnecessary since I've never heard of negative Energy Resistance.

I think the english types see ()s as cheating.

Also that doesn't address the issues of stacking this seems to be trying to prevent.

Quote:
Honestly, given the name of the ability, and the way it's worded, I think how we read it ( ER reduction only if the ER prevented the attack from doing damage) may be the intent. Hence unstoppable strikes.

So a level 7 ability is supposed to help you do a minimum of 5 points of damage per round, less than a level 1 character?

That seems incredibly weak, even with some of starfinders less than stellar character options.

ER Fire 20 monster soaks a 18 damage fire attack.

Soldier: Cocky aren't ya? You think you can stop me?!

Unstoppable Strikes kicks in, Soldier does 3 Fire damage

Soldier: That's right! My strikes are Unstoppable, baby!

Monster yawns. At level 7 3 points of damage is a shaving cut.

I'm going to lean more towards the ability being useful than the wording being consistent.


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Until official clarification, I too will assume it treats energy resistance as if reduced by 5/10, but not stacking with other methods of reducing energy resistance, such as penetrating attack. You can get it earlier, and at level 15 it's better than penetrating attack. That makes sense for a gear boost vs. a feat.

That way it's also not useless.


BigNorseWolf wrote:


Is that in line or in opposition with your experiences with paizos writing?

Closer to "in line" than "opposition". It seems like particularly bad language even by their standards. (Sorry Paizo, I love you, your games are super fun, but a lotta times you're writing is just really difficult to parse through) and as you said, even by Starfinder standards interpreting the language the way it's written would make it worse than par for the course for Starfinder(cries in Envoy) but just as the writing is simply worse than normal, this ability could simply be worse than normal. It really, really needs either an errata or an FAQ, and I'm hoping either of those will make it better than how others and I are reading it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The way I read it, you simply reduce the resistance by 5, unless your weapon already bypasses or reduces energy resistance, in which case you do not benefit from this ability at all.

For example, if an enemy has resist 20, and you deal 18 damage, the enemy would take 3 damage. If you did 15 damage, the enemy would take 0 damage. If your weapon already ignores 10 energy damage as a weapon property, and you did 25 damage, the enemy would take 15 damage.

Sovereign Court

"doesn't stack with other ways of getting past energy resistance" seems at least a plausible intent for what it should do.

Given how few gear boosts you get though, I don't think that was really needed.

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