PF Unchained / 2E Action Economy in Starfinder

General Discussion

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'm running Starfinder for people who aren't really gamers, and they're constantly getting tripped up over move vs. standard actions. I think the three action system from Unchained and PF2 would be great for them, not to mention add a little sorely-needed mobility to the game.

The thing I'm getting most stuck on is how Starfinder changed full attacks. I'm not sure if I should fully convert to the Unchained version and just accept that more damage will be dealt out or try to patch on a "you can only attack once per round unless you take this penalty" rule. The other issue is the class features that add attacks, like Soldier's Onslaught.

Maybe the best thing is to only allow multiple attacks per round if you make a full attack, which is all three actions.

Has anyone done this who can offer advice?

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They don't port especially well. Starfinder is balanced on standard, move, swift.

You could do a higher multi-attack penalty maybe -6, then -12?, then include a 3-action full attack activity to attack twice at -4, which other classes get better versions of. That's probably going to be more complicated than just the standard or move system.

A lot of classes have standard action special abilities that do much much more than intended when they can attack with a third action.

Alternatively skip the three action thing.

Make your own little symbols for standard, move, swift and full actions. Print out a little reminder cheat sheet for your players and encourage them to draw the symbol next to their character's abilities.

Agreed with Garretmander.

The 3 action economy system doesn't translate to other systems if they weren't built with it in mind. You would need to go through everything and determine what kind of action it was, and many of them probably wont fit neatly.

Honestly, as someone who came from 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder....Starfinders action economy was very easy for me to follow. But I could see where it might be a challenge for those who are new to TTRPGs.

However, I disagree with you that mobility is an issue in Starfinder. Yes, moving stops full attacks, but with the way the math is balanced (you don't get a lot of attack bonus) the penalty from making multiple attacks means that it's not the worst thing in the world. Especially if it allows you to get behind cover, using things like Shot on the Run.

Ultimately, I think your best way to proceed is to just create a reference list that has at the top something like:


Full Action = Standard + Move + Swift

(Most common full action is a full attack action)

And then underneath make a list of the most common actions, and encourage players to write down their specific class abilities to the list and the type of action they require.

In my opinion, this will work out better than trying to convert Starfinder to use a different action economy system.

I will however add that my opinion may be influenced by the fact that I don't like the three action economy system very much in the first place.

Gwaihir Scout wrote:
I'm running Starfinder for people who aren't really gamers, and they're constantly getting tripped up over move vs. standard actions. I think the three action system from Unchained and PF2 would be great for them, not to mention add a little sorely-needed mobility to the game.

I would add that for new players, three actions might be too much for them to deal with. It might slow them down even more since they have too many choices as to what they could do.

How would you deal with Spells? Would they still take a single action? Is there going to be a limit on the number of spells that can be cast? It seems that the complexity introduced by such exceptions could make it more complex than the current Action / Move / Swift option.

As for mobility (assuming I understand the issue you refer to), why not say that a player doesn't have to end their move action to take another action. Meaning that you can take a standard/swift action before, after or during a move action (i.e. like D&D 5e).

That's basically just giving shot on the run, spring attack, and an ability to cast spells in the middle of movement for free. Which aren't necessarily bad things, although if you had a Hit and Run soldier you would need to find a way to reimburse them since they get abilities like those, but better.

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I got to the Envoy improvisations and realized that this just wouldn't work. Oh well. Thanks for the discussion.

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

Yes, the envoy is a Build-Your-Own-Action-Economy kit and would have to be totally rebuilt.

Sovereign Court

HammerJack wrote:
Yes, the envoy is a Build-Your-Own-Action-Economy kit and would have to be totally rebuilt.

Taking a long hard look at the envoy's action economy design isn't the worst thing that could happen.

Sovereign Court

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I think three action economy can be made fairly simple. It's really astonishing how much harder they made it seem in the playtest.

If you've played a lot of German-made boardgames, you've noticed many of them come with small cards listing the different actions you can take on your turn with a concise description of them. Including some symbols for what they do.

You could do the same in Starfinder. You'd get a list of "primitive actions":

> Stride
> Step
> Draw/Sheathe
>> Strike
>> Cast a spell
>> Withdraw (Stride twice, the first space you leave doesn't count as threatened)
>>> Full Attack (Strike twice, both times at -4)
>>> Charge (Stride 2x then Strike, in a straight unobstructed line)
>>> Run (Stride 4x in a straight line)

Class abilities tend to be built from these primitives:
>>> Trick Attack (Stride, then try to Trick, then Strike)
> Get 'Em (choose an enemy; until your next turn you and your allies get +1 to hit against that enemy)
>>> Haste (Combine a Full Attack with a Step or Stride at the beginning, middle or end)
>>> Hit And Run (... pretty much the same as Haste, but for level 5 hit and run soldiers)

Obviously you have to rewrite a lot of stuff. If a Move is a single action then you can move 3x your speed in your turn instead of 2x, which means you may also need to reconsider how far a Charge goes, if people are to have a chance of keeping up.

Notice how I made Strike a >> action so that you still need to use the specific Full Attack >>> action to be able to afford striking twice in the turn.

You'd be able to use some actions together that used to be impossible because both of them were Swift. If you want to avoid that for some actions, you could give them a First Thing tag that means you can only do that action if it's the first action you take in your turn.

Starting out with a good collection of primitive actions, you can also write more robust rules later on that build on that. For example, if a Trick Attack uses a Stride, then if you know the rules for Stride then you already know a lot about how Trick Attack works. And if you have an ability that modifies your Stride, then it'll also work on your Trick Attack. Likewise if enemies have an anti-Stride ability, it'll also work against Trick Attack. That means that later on if you have people writing stuff for two different books, the stuff they make will hook up more nicely.

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

That single change to make Strike two actions fixes a lot. It's pretty close to the standard rules that way, although you can now take three move or multiple swift actions. Not sure who could make use of multiple swifts. Quick Draw becomes almost worthless. Envoys (anybody, really) would love it on any turn they're not attacking or doing any other previously-standard action.

I think that's at a point where I can patch any problems that come up. I'll run this by my players. It might just cause confusion since you have to remember standard = two actions, or it might click better. Worth a shot. Thanks.

Sovereign Court

It really stands or falls with having a well-organized reminder card with the actions on it. I don't think it should be done with on the fly conversion.

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