fixing the starship cost problem, maybe


General Discussion


hi all
First time posting to the boards, so forgive me if i'm posting in the wrong place.
I've been looking online to find out if anyone has come up with a good way of pricing starships, apart from the abstract method in the core rules which was limiting before I started adding homebrew starship parts, but now, would just be insane. My group loves starships just as much as they love ground adventures and roleplay. So now we're working with a list of starship parts and upgrades that takes up 137 pages when posted into a word document, as well as a new set of starship rules when it comes to repairs and upgrades. But anyway, the reason I am posting this is to tell you how I got around the starship cost problem, so that maybe you guys can benefit from it.
For starters, even though the rulebook does not give a spesific cost for starship parts other than in BP, a medical lab costs 7000 credits, based on the equipment section. The same expansion for a starship, the medical bay, costs 8 bp. 7000 divided by 8 is 875, so each bp is 875 credits. That's not a whole lot when you consider the fact that one of the weapons in Starfinder armory costs at least a million credits, you could buy a dreadnaught with that and the upgrades to go with it. This is of course assuming that expansion bays come with life support right out of the box.
The space shuttle that was used by NASA took billions of dollars to build. The same is kind of true for the set up I'm using. Each BP is worth 1000000 credits. Anyone who wants to be a starship pilot has to be registered, and if they use magic they have to be registered as a magic user as well. There are plenty of starships, but not everyone can use them because they aren't licensed as pilots. Meanwhile, pilots who engage in salvage opperations, asteroid mining, or planetary observations cam make thousands, even millions of credits potentially with larger ships, as they can go further, carry more, ETC. For that reason, I treat all the gear in the books as having a price that's 200% higher for pilots. if businesses know pilots will be in the area, they'll inflate the prices for them because they know they can afford it. Now, remember what I said about one BP being 1000000 credits? There is a maximum limit of cash pilots can have in an account at once, because the governments are worried that the economy could be over inflated if, say, a pilot spent all that money in one place. Banks and other money changers can, and often will, exchange 1000000 credits for a ship credit, which is the only thing that shipyards will deal in when it comes to upgrading starships. However, once a ship credit has been made, it cannot be converted backwards into credits. They can be transfered though, so organizations or particularly wealthy people can still pay pilots in ship credits for completing tasks for them. There are some other, unrelated things that pilots go through, but more often than not, you could think of a fully licensed pilot as something akin to commanders from elite dangerous. if anyone is particularly curious about the extra steps of becoming a pilot in the game I run, and what pilots can expect once they are licensed, give me a shout. Hopefully this helps someone. if you really, really want to see the 137 page starship component listing, let me know.


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The idea of ship credits sounds like basically a more complex solutions version than what I came up with, that being that BP are basically a unique form of UPB which are preconfigured for large design spaces such as Starships. Building Polymers. Naturally scrap and any machinable wreckage that can be used to upgrade ships would have a converted BP value. But this way, you can do a job for someone and get paid in BP. As a physical construct, it would be about the size of an iron drum and weigh 10 bulk. If a ship is going to carry spare BP in either actual BP or usable scrap, they need a cargo bay.

BP would have a converted credit cost of 1000 credits per BP (price tentative) if the party wants to sell, but buying BP is virtually impossible. it's usually mass produced by ship Foundries who use them for ship building projects. Independent BP Foundries are rare. Given the use and expense of BP foundries sell them only in packs of 50, primarily to industrial sectors and major corporations. They will only sell to individuals who present a writ expressing intent to use the BP, and have the credits up front to cover the cost. So the primary way of earning BP for the party would be to find it raw, recover it from scrap, or earn it doing a favor for an NPC. Basically, they'd have to get the BP by adventuring, rather than buying their way into a better ship. If the party actually manages to save up the 50 thou and want to spend it on BP instead of better gear, they're welcome to it.

As for use of BP, it could be used as a trade good, or used to upgrade ships as normal. It's assumed that the shipbuilders skim some of the BP cost ( so if, say, an item in the book says it costs 8 BP, it's actually 5 BP and the ship builders take 3 as payment that they can use on other projects) though if the party wants to hold onto that skimmed BP, they can instead pay that converted cost.

I would also say for PCs that want to build their own ship, they can do so with a successful engineering check = 10+ship's tier+ BP cost of that particular part. When it comes to the ship's frame, the engineer must have at least as many ranks in engineering as the tier of the ship they are building. Success means they do so in a 1d6 days x every 5 BP in the part's Cost. Having multiple engineers assisting with this check divides that time by the number of engineers. This means a solo engineer could build himself a Starfighter in maybe a month, while it would take a dedicated team to build say a medium freighter in the same time period.

Tl;Dr, basically I make BP s physical thing my players can find /get paid in / pay others with, but make outright buying it prohibitively expensive, and building your ship on your own take a really long time.


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I don't think this is a cost problem so much as a you're almost never going to improve your game with a system like this so why bother thing.

My head cannon is that the PCs "own" their ship the same way people "own" their house or business: a lot of it is mortgaged to the bank, and you're constantly borrowing money to upgrade and pay for fuel. So you can't have a 10th level ship drop it off and be like "okay, here's my ship, one artifact weapon please...." that things got a lean on it.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Neither of those seem to actually touch the main issue with trying to make a sane BP to credit conversion factor. Credits per tier of item increase on a much sharper exponential curve than BP per tier of ship. So multiplying by a constant can't reconcile the 2, without scrapping the BP system and rebuilding it.


I see that. I think for me it's just making BP a physical construct instead of an abstract, because I don't like it when my dead suns party levels up and goes "we're APL 10 now, we wanna spend our extra BP on linked turrets" like it's something that just happens out of thin air. The ship isn't a character, it doesn't gain experience like a PC, it doesn't just get better out of thin air.

I understand a lot of the logistics of ship building and what not are handwaved for simplicity's sake, but I think by making BP a physical construct they have to earn/find instead of a thing that just happens, for one it's more immersive. I think it also adds another level of depth to the party's decision making when deciding on what side quests to go on. Do they do job A and get paid in lots of credits, or do they do Job B and get paid in BP, with both jobs having loot potential. Do we need to be better outfitted, or does the ship need an upgrade?


HammerJack wrote:
Neither of those seem to actually touch the main issue with trying to make a sane BP to credit conversion factor. Credits per tier of item increase on a much sharper exponential curve than BP per tier of ship. So multiplying by a constant can't reconcile the 2, without scrapping the BP system and rebuilding it.

I disagree. UPBS are at a constant price, are virtually a trade good, and can be used to make anything. Simply treat BP the same way, at a higher price point. The only difficult thing is trying to determine a price that's fair, that's sufficiently expensive without being too ludicrous.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

"A price point that's fair without being ludictous" is where it falls apart.

A tier 20 ship is made from 18.18 times a many BP as a tier 1 ship.

A tier 20 laser rifle is made from 1698.82 times as many UPB as a tier 1 laser rifle.

If a tier 1 bp and a tier 20 bp have the same credit cost, the price will be unreasonable for one of them.


HammerJack wrote:

"A price point that's fair without being ludictous" is where it falls apart.

A tier 20 ship is made from 18.18 times a many BP as a tier 1 ship.

A tier 20 laser rifle is made from 1698.82 times as many UPB as a tier 1 laser rifle.

If a tier 1 bp and a tier 20 bp have the same credit cost, the price will be unreasonable for one of them.

The solution then is in availability. Credits/UPBs are common. Just make earning BP rarer.


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I disagree that this is a problem.

It may be a point in the rules you disagree with or would like to expand on. That doesn't make it a problem - it's a design choice. If you would prefer a different design in your game, that's great.

Quote:
My group loves starships just as much as they love ground adventures and roleplay.

I hate to say it, but you may be playing the wrong game. Starfinder is not designed that way.

As for moving starships over to credits, you're tampering with a fundamental choice in the economic design. If I sacrifice on BP I can have a massive amount of credits. I can then go buy guns guns and more guns. One of the reasons they're distinct is to prevent thematic starship battles from ruining the ground-side player economic and scarcity. Additionally you've got a lot of contorted rules and exceptions to try and mitigate the effect of breaking the "wall" between starships and regular money. To me, it feels cumbersome.

Lastly, this should probably be in the House Rules section.


Agreed, this should probably be in Homebrew.


Starfinder Superscriber

I think you could fix it by making Starships and Starship parts (at least, those available to PC's and other private citizens) super cheap rather than expensive.

I believe this more correctly fits with the explanation of how the game world works than the opposite.

This is a universe where, in canon, someone found a 75 year old starship that was in perfect working order and considered on par with modern equivalents. It's a universe where anyone with a ship can go out and find 1000s of ship graveyards and dig up parts or whole ships. It's a universe where a group of ysoki grabbed an unused military battleship and turned it into a casino. This sort of stuff happens all the time in canon adventures and plot dumps.

There's a 300 year backlog of used Drift capable ships still flying and potentially on the market. There's countless broken down hulks from various space battles and accidents that can be fixed up with some elbow grease or stipped for parts. It makes sense that this would keep consumer prices down. In the same way that there are parts of the US where you can get a (mostly) working car for a couple thousand dollars, you can probable find a (mostly) working starship for a couple thousand credits.

I think if you're going to do a BP to credit conversion, it's more internally consistent to make most parts and ship upgrades painfully cheap (especially if you're bringing in your own parts collected after downing other ships in starship combat).

Of course, this means that you'd have the opposite problem, that anyone with some extra cash could easily be rolling around in a Tier 20 Explorer. But the way starship combat DC's work, there'd be limits to how effective that is, and if you make them collect their own parts from starship combat or missions specifically to find parts from other starship graveyards, well, you end up with the BP system you started with. (The BP system basically assumes you're doing this as you go.)


pithica42 wrote:
Of course, this means that you'd have the opposite problem, that anyone with some extra cash could easily be rolling around in a Tier 20 Explorer. But the way starship combat DC's work, there'd be limits to how effective that is, and if you make them collect their own parts from starship combat or missions specifically to find parts from other starship graveyards, well, you end up with the BP system you started with. (The BP system basically assumes you're doing this as you go.)

You can control that with the default tier system, but factoring starships into WBL and wealth per encounter sounds like a colossal headache best avoided by the BP system anyway.


Starfinder Superscriber

I agree. That was the point I was ambling towards.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Pogiforce wrote:
HammerJack wrote:

"A price point that's fair without being ludictous" is where it falls apart.

A tier 20 ship is made from 18.18 times a many BP as a tier 1 ship.

A tier 20 laser rifle is made from 1698.82 times as many UPB as a tier 1 laser rifle.

If a tier 1 bp and a tier 20 bp have the same credit cost, the price will be unreasonable for one of them.

The solution then is in availability. Credits/UPBs are common. Just make earning BP rarer.

If BPs are rare,instead of a commodity you can buy at a shipyard, then it is an entirely different question. I'm not saying that using a form of super UPB as your unit of material for upgrading ships, instead of a hold full of collected scrap, a contract with a fully fitted shipyard, or any other device you choose to use when it's time to give your party a chance to make upgrades is a bad idea.

That's kind of the base system assumption, that you justify ship upgrades, when the time comes, in whatever way fits into your game, whether it's salvage, a contract payout, a convoluted scheme to steal a different ship than the one the party flew in on, or whatever else.

The only thing I'm sayin doesn't work is a BP being a commodity worth X credits. Because there is no fixed value of X that works across the level range, unless you change other systems first, to make it more viable.


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Not to mention, the game assumes that when your players level, their ship levels up as well.

Adding a cost into that, especially if there's a choice between player loot and ship loot, means that however much they take as ship loot, you'd need to still be giving them however much much player loot they'd normally get, plus figure out how much the ship loot would be worth if converted to player loot and also give them that much more player loot, otherwise you're penalizing your players' power levels just to level up the ship.

It seems like a lot of work for something that's basically an unfinished afterthought bolted on to another game. Err, that's how I see the Starship stuff straight out of Paizo. I'm not calling anyone's homebrew ideas unfinished or afterthoughts.


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Pantshandshake wrote:

Not to mention, the game assumes that when your players level, their ship levels up as well.

Adding a cost into that, especially if there's a choice between player loot and ship loot, means that however much they take as ship loot, you'd need to still be giving them however much much player loot they'd normally get, plus figure out how much the ship loot would be worth if converted to player loot and also give them that much more player loot, otherwise you're penalizing your players' power levels just to level up the ship.

Pantsandshake is wise. Right now players get ships "for free" or "by fiat" or "by elves" or whatever you want to call it. If you make ships have a price, you just have to give them loot to compensate, and in the end you've really changed nothing besides giving yourself more work.


hmm. Looking at it, I guess I can see how the actual conversion from UPB to BP doesn't work at higher levels. It was never something I thought about because, well truth be told we don't really pay attention to the whole wealth table etc etc. When they finish missions they get from there benifactor, I give them ship credits, (BP). Which follow the system I explained. Honestly I don't know what I'd do if I was playing with a player who payed attention to that stuff, (except probably be very happy) as it is I end up looking up most everything anyways because it's an online game and I'm the only one with the rulebooks so I end up bull*$%&ing some stuff and handwaving other stuff. I like the idea of BP just being massive UPBs. As for the home brew section, noted. I apologize. Is there a way to move the thread? And suppose that ship parts weren't expensive, and costed only in the thousands? Sense it's space, and everyone probibly travels through it at one point in time, would the economy break?


Pantshandshake wrote:
Not to mention, the game assumes that when your players level, their ship levels up as well.

I don't see it that way. I view ship tier as basically another "wealth by level" chart separate from the normal one. A guideline of how strong the PC's ship should be based on their level, not how strong it MUST be. I know the book doesn't word it that way, but it seems their intent when looking at book 6 of Dead Suns.

Spoiler:
the PCs are given the opportunity to control two different ships in the book: a tier 3, and a tier twenty. The book actively admits that the tier 3 is weaker than they may be used to, and that the tier 20 is far stronger than they are used to. In both cases, for all intents and purposes it's their ship. But the ship's are still called tier 3 and tier 20. The ship's tier is not adjusted to account for the party's apl.

So to me that says the PCs can end up controlling a ship that doesn't match their tier one way or another. Whether that be they had to change ships in a hurry, or they simply didn't think about where the BP was going to come from. And them piloting it doesn't automatically change it's tier, nor make BPs appear out of thin air. Everything comes from something.


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There is an option to flag posts for moderator attention. With the post flagged as in the wrong forum, they may move it down to Homebrew.

As for a cheap cost of BPs, it will just make the economy weird in a different way. I think that if you really want to male them got well, you need to make a table that lays out an escalating cost of BP by ship tier. If you're using a higher conversion cost for higher tier ships, you can make their cost into something that makes sense across the level range.

If your 137 page component documento assigns tiers to ship components, you could probably use those, instead, to prevent a video den from suddenly becoming a billion credit investment on the wrong ship.

But any flat number in the existing build system will make something weird happen.


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Except for this:
While it’s possible to run a Starfinder game that doesn’t involve starships at all, the Starfinder RPG assumes that PCs have access to a starship. Whether it was built from scrap, received from a generous benefactor, or purchased with an exorbitant loan, the PCs’ starship serves as a mobile base of operations, a means of reaching distant stars, and a defense against hostile alien vessels. Often, the PCs’ first starship is designed by the GM and can be upgraded or even replaced as the characters gain experience. However, some GMs might allow the PCs free reign over their starship’s creation, letting them feel a sense of true ownership over the starship that will accompany them throughout the campaign. Either way, a starship’s power level is based on the PCs’ Average Party Level (APL)—the characters’ average character level. See Refitting and Upgrading Starships on page 305 for information on how to adjust a starship’s capabilities when the characters’ APL changes.

Where it... you know, actually says, that the ship is based on the party's APL.

Whatever happens in that AP notwithstanding, the game and rules assume a magical ship is created and upgraded as the players play, without cost.

Now, I'm not against making rules up to build ships, with an economy and such, but I am against a lot of extra work for everyone at the table, GM and PC alike, that doesn't enhance anything.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As Hammerjack has said, the different ways in which credits and BPs scale makes it virtually impossible to assign a fixed credit-to-BP conversion rate. But if you're willing to work with a scaling credit-to-BP conversion rate, though, then it's relatively straightforward to make something like this work.

Here's a detailed proposal, based on the encounter-WBL tables, for how to do this if you want to have the credit value of BP depend on the level of the ship.

Here's another detailed (and effectively compatible) proposal for how to do this if you instead want to set things up such that as you add more and more BP to a ship, the credit cost of these additional BP increases.

And here's a discussion of some natural worries one might have about employing one of these scaling credit-to-BP proposals, as well as responses to these worries.

Hope that's of some help!


Pantshandshake, I was more interest in the retrofitting and upgrading section, which I found and read on my own. It helped my understanding of the matter. Basically my understanding of BP needing justification is true to a degree, but is solved by caveat. In the same way spending fame for a body recovery in society is assuming you made arrangements prior for someone to come retrieve you in the event you don't return when expected. As a GM I see the fault for the "BP out of thin air" is at least partially on me. I should have presented means and opportunity. (An example being as thanks from the natives for saving them, they present a trove of ancient lost tech that could be used to upgrade their ship, and also promise to guard them while they busy themselves with the upgrades.) I will encourage my players to come up with their own caveats for BP (bargain for as extra pay in an otherwise balanced deal, discover an allow vein they could sell the rights to in exchange for ship building materials made out of it, etc.) But the method I was employing puts extra burden on the PCs to find resources and time, in a campaign that seems to be, by design, limiting on both.


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What did you THINK the team of ysoki were doing underneath the plasma cannons for the 5d6 days you were in the drift?

Okay yes well they were doing THAT but they were also upgrading the weapons.

Sovereign Court

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The ship automagically upgrading when the PCs level is an abstraction. It's not that you get BP out of thin air, but rather that it's assumed it happens off-camera. Doing a montage to barter for BP and upgrade the ship once is fun; absolutely having to do it every level forces a playstyle that not everyone wants. So don't read that paragraph too absolutely either way.

It's not an absolute law that your ship is your level. There's an SFS adventure where you're chasing a tier 10 ship that's got a level 7 NPC crew on it, which creates some unusual difficulties. Likewise, PCs could try to fly a ship that's not at their own level, but it'd be odd:
* A lower-tier ship is extremely easy to handle, so pilot stunts and engineer actions become sure things. But it doesn't have the budget for heavy guns and shields, and it has less hit points.
* A higher-tier ship has a wealth of options. Guns work just as well (it's the higher tier enemy ship's AC you have to worry about), and pilot initiative rolls are fine too. But repairing systems, boosting engines and piloting stunts become hard.

If you have a fixed credit to BP ratio then I would be inclined to put in some personal wealth and have a higher tier ship, and just blast enemies to bits fast and do the repairs afterwards.

---

In a more sandboxy campaign I do like the idea of Macro Building Polymers as a reward currency.

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