Why upgrade powered armor when I can replace it for the same price?


Rules Questions


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Am I reading the rules right? Upgrading powered armor to a higher level costs the same amount as buying a whole new suit of upgraded power armor at that level?

If so, why would I ever choose to upgrade? Wouldn't it almost always be better to just buy a new suit of powered armor, and then pass the old suit to a less armored ally or sell it to recoup some of the costs?


You may want some of the special functionality of a lower level model. And repeatedly upgraded armor can have better AC (but worse everything else) than equivalent level PA that isn’t upgraded. Finally, the current value of your armor, not what you spent on it, is supposed to be what counts against your WBL. You should eventually even out if your GM puts in the work.


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The cost of upgrading powered armor, as written, really doesn't work out well, since the rules in Armory don't support skipping levels. So upgrading armor doesn't cost the same as buying a new suit, unless you're only going up one item level, it costs a lot more.

As for the WBL evening out on it, how wealth is handled varies quite a lot between games, so I don't think that can really be offered as universal advice. Some games will put much more of the burden of being at WBL on the player. And using PA upgrades while playing an AP with the written rewards, or an SFS character will never be able to keep their budget intact.


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It might not be too bad if I just buy a new suit at the powered up level every 5 levels, rather than attempting to upgrade my existing suit every single level.


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HammerJack wrote:

The cost of upgrading powered armor, as written, really doesn't work out well, since the rules in Armory don't support skipping levels. So upgrading armor doesn't cost the same as buying a new suit, unless you're only going up one item level, it costs a lot more.

As for the WBL evening out on it, how wealth is handled varies quite a lot between games, so I don't think that can really be offered as universal advice. Some games will put much more of the burden of being at WBL on the player. And using PA upgrades while playing an AP with the written rewards, or an SFS character will never be able to keep their budget intact.

This is false. I've sat down and done the math with a player of mine. The math roughly lines up at equal percentages. Mind you the EXACT value isn't the same at each level, but there are actually some levels where it's *cheaper* to upgrade than to buy suit at that particular level. True, you do need to do it per level, but if you take a suit of one type of PA, and level it up to the next available level, and do this for each PA set, you'll find roughly the same math.

It's an additional 50% per level, with the average increase of individual PAs to be roughly 48~52%. In some cases it worked out better to upgrade individual PAs vice buying them outright anew.

This is something people don't seem to do and simply compare all suits to their individual one. Try this across multiple levels and suits. It works out.

The stat increases are lackluster in some ways, however.


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Having to upgrade level by level, instead of skipping to the end is the entire core of why I say it's unaffordable, not a minor detail.

To pull out some random suits, character in a brawler frame who buys celerity rigging spends 38500 credits.

A character who upgrades a brawler frame to be a level 12 suit spends 21750, then 32625, then 48937. If you pick a different set of suits, the last upgrade for the upgrading character can be closer in price to the new suit purchase price, but the total from having to buy every level will still make it an unaffordable approach.


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To buy a battleframe at level 20 costs 1,254,183 credits. To upgrade it every single level costs 3,733,554 credits. That's not a drop in the bucket.

[TABLE]

th3razzer wrote:
It's an additional 50% per level...

It's actually 150%.


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Ravingdork wrote:

To buy a battleframe at level 20 costs 1,254,183 credits. To upgrade it every single level costs 3,733,554 credits. That's not a drop in the bucket.

[TABLE]

th3razzer wrote:
It's an additional 50% per level...
It's actually 150%.

Yes, your math checks out. I'm saying the base cost is similar at each level, not overall cost were you to do upgrade all the way through.

I am under no delusions that it is more cost-effective to upgrade each level, nor do I suggest players do that. Clearly you are intended to purchase the other suits at their respective level, with the upgrades feeling more like an after-thought.

One thing I fail to understand is why it isn't a 50% increase each level vs. 150%. Paizo seems fine with the minor cost to upgrade weapons being the price of the weapon minus 10% (sell back costs) of your current weapon. This effectively incentiveses players to "buy-in" to a weapon line and get it slightly cheaper over time (again, small drops, but every bit counts). Hell, 10% of previous PA against its next level seems more than reasonable, since even 90% of the cost of a PA is not small change.


If you do the math and figure out the cost of only the final upgrade, that price is in line with buying a new suit.

All those steps in between are what makes upgrading a suit of power armor a bad idea.


Also, purchasing a set of PA at a given level, as if it had been upgraded previously and was now for sale, isn't something I'd expect at every table. I'd bet that for an amount of players, upgrading the suit level by level is the only way.


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While I'm certain that the original question here was about upgrading PA with the rules Paixo published, not with the ability to pay only the final upgrade price, I'm not sure how many tables I would expect to actually see use the published rules in this case, since they're only even vaguely functional with a pretty generous approach to maintaining WBL.

The Exchange

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Whether you are a fan or not, the paradigms inherent in the design of the item rules and wealth of Starfinder are “buy new; don’t upgrade” and “you can’t afford new weapons and armor every level.”

Power armor upgrading is a decent compromise to let you keep using an armor with a unique ability a little bit longer than you normally would before replacing. It isn’t a good deal financially. If it was a good deal (or just a break-even deal) it would have shifted the whole monetary assumption of the game.

I’m personally not a fan.

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