COM Solarian Solar Shield Questions / Clarifications


Rules Questions


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Starfinder Superscriber

I'm going to go ahead and start this by saying that I'm not trying to start a debate here, or advocate for or against any particular answer to these questions. If you want to do that, feel free, but I'm mostly hoping for a FAQ request here, because I think these situations are ambiguous enough in the actual text to warrant it. And I think over time these are likely to cause some of the same kinds of arguments that RoF caused (especially in SFS, where every GM can't just make up their own house rules and hope for the best).

If by some miracle the thread comes to a consensus, even if it's one I disagree with, I'm happy to play along with the general player base and not argue. But if you feel the need to come in here and act like I'm stupid for daring to ask the question or for not seeing your particular answer as the one true gospel, just leave, please. I don't have time for your weakness.

First my questions.

1. Does Soulfire (the fusion) allow a Solar Shield wielder to add their charisma to damage?

2. Does a Solar Shield using a Solarian Crystal that does energy damage target EAC or KAC?

3. Do racial or class features (like Vesk Natural Attack or Aesthetic Warrior) provide a 1.5x Specialization (or any other bonuses) to the Unarmed Strikes from Solar Shield?

So that we have all the relevant information, here are the rules for the various things involved in why I'm asking those questions. Sections may be bolded or italicized for emphasis so you can more easily see where confusion about the rules might arise.

Solar Shield:
You can coalesce your solar mote around one of your hands, creating a deflecting shield of out of stellar energy. This shield appears to be made of either glowing light or solid darkness, as determined by the appearance of your solar manifestation, but it can take any general shape you desire. Normal defensive implements such as bucklers and kite shields are popular shapes for solar shields, but it is not unheard of for a solarian to bear a solar shield in the form of a shining orrery orbiting their arm, a set of rapidly spinning helicopter blades across their forearm, or stranger barriers. Your solar shield’s general design has no impact on its function, and it doesn’t give the shield any special abilities. Once you’ve selected the general design, you can’t change it until you gain a new solarian level.
Your solar shield grants you a +1 shield bonus to AC (see Shields on page 124), and as a move action you can align the shield to grant you greater protection against one opponent you are observing (Core Rulebook 260), which increases your shield bonus to AC to +2 against attacks from that opponent until the beginning of your next turn. At 5th level and again every 5 levels thereafter, the shield bonus when aligned against one target increases by an additional +1.
You can make unarmed attacks with your solar shield; these attacks are not archaic, and you threaten squares within your reach while it is formed. You can add solarian weapon crystals to your solar shield as if it were a solar weapon, in which case their benefits apply to unarmed attacks you make with the shield. The damage type of these attacks is the same damage type as the type granted by the solarian weapon crystal, and if the solarian weapon crystal does not specify a damage type, it deals bludgeoning damage.
Forming or dismissing a solar shield is a move action that takes the same amount of effort as drawing or sheathing a weapon (and can be combined with a move as a single move action or used with the Quick Draw feat). Your solar shield is automatically dismissed if it ever leaves your hand.

Soulfire:
The soulfire fusion (and soulfire fusion seals) can only be applied to solarian weapon crystals. When you hit a target with a solar weapon augmented by a solarian weapon crystal with the soulfire fusion, you add your Charisma bonus to the damage done, in addition to your Strength bonus.

So, since you treat your Solar Shield 'as if it were a solar weapon' for the purposes of solarian crystals and there are no caveats (as with Solar Flare) about the types of fusions it can take. I think the answer to 1 is that Soulfire works with Solar Shield. Both Herolab and the Cookiemaker sheet (which I edit) currently do not work this way, and the text is ambiguous enough (and solar shield powerful enough) that I could see it getting argued over. But that's precisely why I'm asking the question.

Armor Class:
ENERGY ARMOR CLASS (EAC)
Your Energy Armor Class (EAC) represents the defenses you have against attacks that only deal damage as a result of some kind of energy (such as acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic damage). When an opponent’s attack would deal only energy damage (if he is using, for example, a laser pistol), his attack roll result is compared to your EAC to determine whether he hits you. Some weapons and effects that use magical or exotic untyped energies might also target your EAC; the description of the weapon or effect tells you if this is the case.

KINETIC ARMOR CLASS (KAC)
Your Kinetic Armor Class (KAC) represents the defenses you have against attacks that primarily deal damage as a result of a physical impact. This generally includes attacks that deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (usually described as “kinetic attacks”), as well as impacts from falling and damage from crushing or constriction. When a foe’s attack would deal such damage (if he is using, for example, a starknife), even if it also deals energy damage, his attack roll result is compared to your KAC to determine whether he hits.

So, based on that, if an attack from a Solar Shield deals solely energy damage (which the Solar Shield with some crystals does) it should target EAC, and if it deals Bludgeoning or some other kinetic damage, it should be KAC and I think that should be the answer to 2. Most examples, though, of fusions (or the like) that change a damage type of a weapon include a line like the following: "This fusion never causes a weapon that normally targets KAC to target EAC." I can't think of an example that doesn't, and it's perfectly reasonable to assume this is a general rule. Unarmed Strikes normally do kinetic damage and it's perfectly reasonable to assume that this implied general rule applies and Solar Shield always targets KAC, regardless of the energy type. However, since that line is missing from Solar Shield, the wording of how damage assigned is different from other examples, and I cannot find a general rule that actually says this, I think it's ambiguous enough to warrant a FAQ, because I can totally see this being ruled either way at any given table.

Finally...

Vesk Natural Attack:
Vesk are always considered armed. They can deal 1d3 lethal damage with unarmed strikes and the attack doesn’t count as archaic. Vesk gain a unique weapon specialization with their natural weapons at 3rd level, allowing them to add 1–1/2 × their character level to their damage rolls for their natural weapons (instead of just adding their character level, as usual).

Aesthetic Warrior:
You study fighting styles thought lost to the Gap, often recorded only in the art of ancient civilizations or inferred from the shape of relic weapons and battle gear. You focus specifically ancient motions and techniques that rely on form and mobility rather than the harshness of attacks and resilience. You gain Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. You can deal lethal damage with your unarmed strikes, and the attack doesn’t count as archaic. At 3rd level, you gain a unique Weapon Specialization with your unarmed strikes, allowing you to add 1-1/2 times your character level to your damage rolls for your unarmed strikes (instead of just adding your character level, as usual). If you can already add 1-1/2 your character level to your unarmed attack rolls (such as due to the vesk natural attack racial trait), you instead can add the block, grapple, and stun weapon special properties to your unarmed strikes.
This replaces the soldier’s proficiency with heavy armor and heavy weapons.

Here's where I see a lot of arguments happening, same as they did with Ring of Fangs. See, I can freely admit that it doesn't make any sense for a racial ability that makes your fangs or teeth or tail (or whatever the heck Vesk use) to attack stronger (the 1.5x spec) not affecting a shield. That seems rational on the face of it. But there are a lot of other things where I've made that argument (like smelling through environmental protections) only to be talked to like I'm stupid for not accepting this is a game full of magic and it doesn't have to make sense. Moreover, the line in Aesthetic Warrior about the vesk natural attack racial trait implies that the 1.5x spec from the trait applies to all unarmed strikes (and not just the ones from your actual 'claws' or whatever). Solar Shield is an unarmed strike. Further, in the clarification of RoF from Joe Pasini other properties from Natural Attack get applied to the RoF attack, because it's an unarmed strike, so you can make the case that this might be how it's supposed to work. Now, personally I think that the answer to 3 is that something like Vesk Natural Attack does not work but Aesthetic Warrior does, but I can see valid arguments about Intent vs RAW vs Logic vs 'Don't take away my toy' vs 'his toy is better than mine and you should take it away' ruining a lot of fun at actual tables. So I think it warrants a FAQ.

I welcome anyone who wishes to to make their case for their own answer, but I have no plans on engaging in a debate about this. If you have clearly irrefutable rules text that answers these questions, or if everyone agrees that it should work a particular way, I welcome it. Otherwise I've made the case as I see it, and I'm mostly hoping that you agree it needs a FAQ and click the FAQ button.


On 2 I think someone was confused and thought energy damage crystals convert the entire damage of a solar weapon to that type rather than just adding it on top of the B/S/P that the solar weapon still does without the crystal. I can't imagine that the intent would actually be for a crystal to change your physical bludgeoning shield to all energy damage and attack EAC.


Good questions! FAQ'd.

I'm not an authority, but here's my $0.02:

1. I think it should work, but playing Asmodeus' advocate for a moment.... While solar flare does have a caveat to it, it also says 'anything that can affect a solar weapon except...' Solar shield doesn't say 'anything' it just says 'solarian weapon crystals'. I can see an argument being made that weapon fusions shouldn't work because it's only the weapon crystal that is specified. Again, I disagree with that interpretation.

2. RAW, it seems like it should change the type of AC you target. I'm not convinced that was the intention, but the RAW seems pretty straightforward.

3. I don't think the Vesk one should apply - at least, not completely. The second half seems to imply it's their racial natural attacks that should see the boost to specialization damage. Since Solar Shield isn't a racial natural attack I would think it wouldn't interact that way. Seems like aesthetic warrior should work as written, though.

Honestly, the lesson I'm learning from this is that solar shield is pretty darn good. Innately, it doesn't have any scaling damage, but a one level dip in soldier takes care of all of that - and rids you of that pesky CHA primary attribute. You lose heavy armor proficiency out of the box, but you get a shield at level 2 and could always pick up heavy armor again with a feat.


1. Yes, I’d say you add CHA to damage using a Soulfire Fusion with the shield. Even if the shield didn’t specifically call out treating the shield like a Solar Weapon, I’d be super surprised if the intent was that it didn’t behave like a solar weapon in terms of crsytals/fusions.
2. I’d say you’re still attacking KAC. To echo Xenocrat, the crystals don’t override the entire damage portion of the solar weapon, I wouldn’t think they’re supposed to override the entire damage portion of the shield. I can accept that, since its written that way, some people will want to play it that way, however. In which case, we go back to fusions that change damage types don’t change what kind of AC you attack. The absence of that line in the entry for the shield doesn’t mean that the rule doesn’t apply here. There’s plenty of items that say “You must end your turn on ground that can support you or you fall,” we don’t then say that because it didn’t call out the falling rules, that falling because of that item doesn’t deal any damage. In other words, I don’t believe the absence of a rule callout means the item goes against that ruling, I believe a ruling different from the norm needs to be called out, silence about the rule means you follow the general rule as it has already been laid out.
3. No idea. I don’t know why Paizo feels the need to include so many things in this game that may interact without just writing a damn paragraph somewhere. I’d say ask your GM, because who knows on this one.


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

On number 1, I believe that without the special restriction that solar flare has, the soulfire fusion would function in a solar shield.

On number 2, I'm fairly confident that the intent was not for these strikes to target EAC. The wording does not refer to the solarian crystal being a magical change in the damage type, so I can see whether the clause about magically changed damage types never affecting which AC is targeted applies by RAW being debatable.

On number 3, I absolutely agree that it does not make any sense conceptually for natural weapons to improve shield strikes (solar or otherwise). Mechanically, natural weapons is written as an ability that applies to all unarmed attacks (a category that includes shield strikes). There does not seem to be any intention for Natural Weapons to apply only to specific strikes (based on the official ruling that natural weapons stacks with Ring if Fangs, which IS a specific attack, and off of the alternate damage type of natural weapons being optional, and not a prerequisite for other benefits).

I do believe that it would be better for the game for natural weapons to not combine with solar shield strikes, as the result can otherwise result in some truly broken outcomes, and if the shield also targets EAC, could nearly obsolete the solar weapon.


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Starfinder Superscriber

I did a couple comparison charts and at a handful of levels, Shield beats Weapon for raw damage ((assuming the 1.5x specialization and Soulfire)). If it targets EAC, it's definitely going to be better than weapon.

EDIT: assuming you optimize both for damage


1 - Reads that way to me, too.

2 - For a Vanguard, our Entropic Strikes with our unarmed fists (or ANYTHING else for that matter) deal energy damage and target EAC. I think that the same would be true of that solar energy shield with a crystal. The shield itself is energy. Why wouldn't it deal energy damage when enhanced with a solarian weapon crystal with a soulfire infusion? It states over and over again that this is ALL energy.


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Astrael wrote:
2 - For a Vanguard, our Entropic Strikes with our unarmed fists (or ANYTHING else for that matter) deal energy damage and target EAC. I think that the same would be true of that solar energy shield with a crystal. The shield itself is energy. Why wouldn't it deal energy damage when enhanced with a solarian weapon crystal with a soulfire infusion? It states over and over again that this is ALL energy.

Because the solar weapon does not, and it's all energy like the shield.

Regards to number three, judging by the ring of fangs clarification, I highly doubt they're intended to get 1.5 spec from natural weapons.

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