Starfinder Update to PF2 Rules Approach


Homebrew


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you were going to try to update Starfinder to use the majority of the improvements seen in PF2, how would you go about it?

I'm looking at the bones of the PF2 system and I see that it might just make the most sense to port classes and technological items and skills from Starfinder to PF2, and just use a lot of PF2 as-is.

How would you start?


WatersLethe wrote:

If you were going to try to update Starfinder to use the majority of the improvements seen in PF2, how would you go about it?

I'm looking at the bones of the PF2 system and I see that it might just make the most sense to port classes and technological items and skills from Starfinder to PF2, and just use a lot of PF2 as-is.

How would you start?

the action economy for one

makes combat more mobile and dynamic i feel

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

WatersLethe wrote:

If you were going to try to update Starfinder to use the majority of the improvements seen in PF2, how would you go about it?

I'm looking at the bones of the PF2 system and I see that it might just make the most sense to port classes and technological items and skills from Starfinder to PF2, and just use a lot of PF2 as-is.

How would you start?

Technology. Specifically, weapons and armor.

The second task is to determine the conversion between the PF2 silver piece and the SF credit.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

The action economy would be by far the bigger benefit to start with. Unfortunately, based on person experience its also a gigantic pain to get working right.

Instating the Multiple Attack Penalty mechanic wholesale is in general a significant increase in damage output for the martially inclined characters vs. Starfinder's current system. But you can get that somewhat under control by increasing all NPC ACs by 2 and decreasing their attack rolls by 2.

But the big problem is balancing out all the other mechanics. Strongly action-economy-limited classes like Envoy are difficult to translate without accidentally making them super powerful. You almost need to build the Envoy from the ground up with the new PF2E system!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Cellion wrote:
The action economy would be by far the bigger benefit to start with.

Should this also apply to Spaceship Conflict?


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I don't have the slightest clue how Starship combat could be translated into the 3-action economy. If it could, it'd have to be done whole cloth - creating new Starship actions that are balanced around being able to do them thrice per round.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Have you checked out Esper Genesis?


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I'll post the thoughts that have been kicking around in my head:

Sufficiently advanced technology vs. magic:

Spoiler:
Technological weapons and armor comes in mk.I-mk.IV. Mk. I is equal to non-magical gear, a mk.II is equal to a +1 striking (or resilient), etc. You can mix and match runes with technology levels, with pricing working out the same, and the same cap.

Weapons:

Spoiler:
Energy weapons - consider dropping/making uncommon the various disintegrators and cold guns and such. Having kinetic weapons, non-lethal electricity weapons, and laser/flame weapons be the only common ones. Mostly so you don't step on alchemist/caster's toes.

Energy weapons should, in general, be at least 1 dice size lower.

Melee weapons should be the ones presented in PF2, with exceptions on a case by case basis. (doshko, vesk martial weapon, for instance). Energy versions should be 1-2 die size lower - consider making them uncommon.

Ranged weapons have capacity and reload 2.

New weapon categories:
Small arms - simple weapons, all classes (including wizard) are proficient in them.
Typical range: 30ft (possibly a free hands property to increase range?)
Energy small arms: 1d4 damage
Projectile: 1d6

Longarms - martial weapons.
Typical range: 90ft (volley trait?)
Energy damage: 1d6
projectile damage: 1d8

Scatterguns - simple weapons, use longarm damage values, but very short range (10-20ft)

Heavy weapons - advanced weapons.
More varied range based on weapon type.
Energy damage: 1d8
Projectile damage: 1d10

Automatic weapons - as written? full three actions.
Blast weapons - no attack roll, creatures in the cone get a basic reflex save vs your attack DC.
Line weapons - as blast
Explode weapons - As blast
Unwieldy - not for melee weapons anymore. Increase damage die by one step if not one of the weapon properties above. Take a -4 penalty on attack rolls and attack DCs with unwieldy weapons. Each additional action used to strike reduces this penalty by 2.
More unique weapon special properties on a case by case basis.

Armor:

Spoiler:
Use PF2 Armor. Upgrade slots and runes do not compete with each other. Rename armor types to things like second skin (explorer's clothing). More advanced versions of armor provide more environmental protection.

Armor upgrades like forcepacks that compete directly with magic items require specific investment. Technology would technically reduce avalable investment rather than using it, but this is mostly a handwave anyway.

Augmentations:

Spoiler:
As armor upgrades, augments use investment. If they do something a PF2 magic item does, use that price and item level. Dragon glands and attack augmentations should be usable 1/10 min. Look at alchemist bombs for effects?

Skills:

Spoiler:
New skills, piloting and technology. Tech is engineering & computers rolled into one. Every class gets an additional trained skill at character creation.

Classes:

Spoiler:
Classes that need recreation:
Envoy - should be charisma based martial (master weapons/armor), with various teamwork based actions as class feats, may be a swashbuckler class path?

Mechanic - construct animal companion & expert proficiencies, exocortex should just be a ranger, class feats either giving this companion new abilities, or doing similar things to what mechanic tricks do in starfinder.

Solarian - Focus caster martial, with abilities that get better if you have spent focus this combat/turn.

Other classes:
Operative - roll unique tricks into rogue.

Soldier - unique fighting styles rolled into fighter, ranger, barbarian, and champion.

Mystic - remove entirely, make sorcerer.

Technomancer - make archetype, using spells to do neat stuff with technology.

Biohacker - alchemist

Witchwarper - sorcerer

Vanguard - champion (might need non-aligned no deity champion houserule)

Spells:

Spoiler:
Import the unique tech based spells, discard the rest.

Starships:

Spoiler:
Leave this alone


I am seriously hoping to see a Starfinder expansion for PF2 core.

That said, here are the problems that I run into when trying to figure out how to design a way to homebrew my own.

Starfinder theme in PF2 rules:

Going this direction is probably easier in the long run to get the full set of PF2 rules. Weapons and other equipment can (for the most part) be re-skinned versions of stuff in PF2 already. The major difficulty is in porting the classes. Spellcasting classes especially since Starfinder spell levels don't match up.

Trying to split the existing classes up into the various class feats that can be chosen would be fairly easy for the existing 'choose one of these' options (mechanic tricks, solarian revelations, and so forth), but splitting the core abilities of the classes into feats would be more challenging. Basically the classes will all end up with a set of must-pick feats that they have to take.

Theme porting into background is also a little strange because themes add benefits later in the character levels. Backgrounds give all of their benefits at the start.

Race porting to ancestry also suffers from the lack of options that core features of a class has. There aren't enough goodies in race features to have more than a single set of must-pick feats.

Another minor sticking point is with skill feats. There are a couple of skills that are somewhat unique to Starfinder. Engineering could probably be considered equivalent to Craft. Computers and Piloting are a bit harder. These skills would need skill feats available.

PF2 improvements in Starfinder rules:

Doing this piecemeal is easier if you only really want a couple of the benefits. This is probably what I will end up doing (and actually have been since the playtest regarding multiple levels of success in skill checks).

Bringing in the three-action action economy would be workable, but you would need to figure out which standard actions take two actions and which only take one. Things like that. Similar for abilities that interact with the swift-move-standard action economy.

Importing the standardized proficiency mechanics and DC tables would be difficult. Could probably be done for skills on their own, but the math isn't all that different than the current Starfinder skill allocation as long as you always max-rank any skill chosen (the higher proficiency bonus from higher tier proficiency TEML levels is all that I see as signifiant).

Skill feats could also be imported, but again, you would need to come up with new skill feats for the Starfinder specific skills.


Cellion wrote:
I don't have the slightest clue how Starship combat could be translated into the 3-action economy. If it could, it'd have to be done whole cloth - creating new Starship actions that are balanced around being able to do them thrice per round.

Starship combat is already completely separate action economy from the swift-move-standard action economy. I don't see any reason to not continue using the current Starfinder starship combat rules if PF2 characters ended up on a starship somehow (and had appropriate skill modifiers in piloting and engineering somehow).

In fact, for people who don't like Starfinder's starship combat, it is easy enough to replace the entire thing with a completely new starship combat mini-game.

Now, vehicle combat and vehicle chases are a different matter...


breithauptclan wrote:

I am seriously hoping to see a Starfinder expansion for PF2 core.

(etc.)

The thing is, you don't import everything from starfinder. You leave most of it behind.

Races and the more unique classes should be imported, and are the most difficult to import, but stuff like themes, every bit of technology? Don't bother. Port it when it is necessary, do not go line by line starfinder to PF2.


Races are going to be tough simply because there are so many.

I think that at this moment there are enough races in Starfinder to fill about half the PF2 CRB. True, you could seriously cut down on that but a big draw of Starfinder is getting to pick from so many things.


Perpdepog wrote:

Races are going to be tough simply because there are so many.

I think that at this moment there are enough races in Starfinder to fill about half the PF2 CRB. True, you could seriously cut down on that but a big draw of Starfinder is getting to pick from so many things.

If I was going to run a PF2/SF game, I would wait until my players picked races, then work with the players to figure out appropriate ancestry feats.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Garretmander, it was a big relief to see a lot of your notes aligned with my thoughts.

I agree that lots and lots of Starfinder should just be left behind, and ported as necessary. Like, in actual Starfinder play a majority of the tech stuff just never came up.

I put together a quick proof of concept document to feel out whether the approaches I've been considering are feasible. I would be really happy if some people could give it a look over.

Starfinder to PF2 Conversion Concept


It looks like a great start. Weapon conversion method #2 is definitely the way to go. I think solarian & attunement may be better served built from the ground up instead of directly converted, but that is much more difficult.

You could consider rules for making weapons with lots of traits that are simply high level items. Count them against a new character's starting items of X level. That way you can include some more variety, without cramming everything into starting level weapons.

So a baseline automatic laser pistol with a d8 damage die might be a level 7 item on it's own, and a significant portion of a player's wealth, even before runes. It would allow upgrading your starting weapon... but I'd expect such a thing would be hard to balance.

I think my only concerns are with unwieldy and slow firing. Only firing once/twice, but still taking the usual number of actions seems... like they become infinitely better versions of wieldy weapons in the hands of characters who only attack once anyway. Rangers specifically, spellcasters generally, and probably slot right into some fighter and rogue attack routines. Quick drawing flamethrowers comes to mind.

Which is why I went with the whole inverse MAP. You take major penalties until you take actions to stabilize them (I think my original thought was too low actually). I think it plays into the action economy and martial activities better. It might be too painful for single target unwieldy weapons though.

Edit: And I'm not sure slow firing is a penalty, a lot of the time an attack at -10 is a waste anyway.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Garretmander wrote:

I think my only concerns are with unwieldy and slow firing. Only firing once/twice, but still taking the usual number of actions seems... like they become infinitely better versions of wieldy weapons in the hands of characters who only attack once anyway. Rangers specifically, spellcasters generally, and probably slot right into some fighter and rogue attack routines. Quick drawing flamethrowers comes to mind.

Which is why I went with the whole inverse MAP. You take major penalties until you take actions to stabilize them (I think my original thought was too low actually). I think it plays into the action economy and martial activities better. It might be too painful for single target unwieldy weapons though.

Edit: And I'm not sure slow firing is a penalty, a lot of the time an attack at -10 is a waste anyway.

Really good points. With slow-firing I was way too focused on trying to reasonably emulate the maximum attacks per round with a simple crossbow (neglecting class feats). For unwieldy, I was definitely forgetting about the other non-attack actions like spells.

I think your reducing penalty with actions thing might be just the ticket for unwieldy. If we don't make any single target unwieldy weapons, we can avoid that particular problem. No single target attack should really be high enough damage to warrant unwieldy anyway. Boost might be a good thing for sniper rifles though.

I'm going to totally rethink small arms. Maybe I'll just go with your damage suggestion and delete slow-firing.

I still like making attack rolls with the area effect weapons. Is there a particular reason you suggested changing them to DCs?


WatersLethe wrote:

I still like making attack rolls with the area effect weapons. Is there a particular reason you suggested changing them to DCs?

Mostly to make line and blast weapons work the same as explode. No real good reason.

Thinking about it, it may be best to keep them as attack rolls, and up the 'value' of explode weapons that do half damage on a failed save in comparison.

In regards to boost weapons, it may be a good idea to include the line 'if you boost an unwieldy weapon, this counts as also taking an action to stabilize the weapon'. If single target unwieldy weapons still exist, they should get boost at a higher damage dice.

Sovereign Court

I'm not wild about the idea of making starfinder weapons high level items or all that. That might make sense if you're trying to do Numeria in PF2 with Starfinder inspiration: tech is rare but powerful.

But if you're trying to do regular Starfinder, then a laser pistol or a laser rifle are really just common basic weapons.

I do think PF2 has something to offer with regards to de-cluttering the Starfinder armory. Instead of having five different grades of laser pistol, we just have a laser pistol with some rules for enhancing it. And those rules work the same for the cryo pistol, and the thunder pistol etc.

Although a notable chunk of your damage coming from your level (weapon specialization) is something I'd actually want to keep. I like Starfinder's conceit that in the hands of a major hero, anything can be deadly.

Looking at how PF2 did weapons, the focus was on giving each weapon different properties so that there's a use case for each of them. That's something we want to add to Starfinder too.

Rebalancing skill bonuses and DCs using PF2 might be an improvement over Starfinder, reducing the gulf between operatives and other classes.

Starship combat needs a complete overhaul anyway, but was a pretty separate module to begin with. From a distance it would be tricky to say that it was even the same game system as the rest of Starfinder.

Three action system is of course the big star mechanic that we want to achieve. I like almost everything about Starfinder action economy except that a lot of swift actions like Quickdraw or Haste Circuit don't actually feel fast because they still block your full attack, charge or trick atttack.

PF2's class feat "a feat lets you do a new thing" model could work well to make Starfinder combat more varied.

Clean numbers for building monsters is something Starfinder does very well already, although apparently monster save bonuses need to be looked at. That could benefit from PF2 knowledge about likely PC class/spell DCs.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

I'm not wild about the idea of making starfinder weapons high level items or all that. That might make sense if you're trying to do Numeria in PF2 with Starfinder inspiration: tech is rare but powerful.

But if you're trying to do regular Starfinder, then a laser pistol or a laser rifle are really just common basic weapons.

I do think PF2 has something to offer with regards to de-cluttering the Starfinder armory. Instead of having five different grades of laser pistol, we just have a laser pistol with some rules for enhancing it. And those rules work the same for the cryo pistol, and the thunder pistol etc.

Although a notable chunk of your damage coming from your level (weapon specialization) is something I'd actually want to keep. I like Starfinder's conceit that in the hands of a major hero, anything can be deadly.

You could easily roll the +1 striking stuff into a ABP for every class. That way the vast majority of laser pistols and cold guns and disintegrator cannons are the same, it's just some people are better at using them than others.

With the occasional, rare, higher level weapon with too many positive traits for it to be a basic weapon.

For instance, a plasma cannon with the explode or line property should be in the game. It should probably be a level 3 or 5 item, not a piece of starting equipment.

Edit: Another thought came to me for credits, a quick conversion should probably be 1cp = 1Cr. Keeps the future currency having that feeling of inflation.

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