Caustojects and Biohacks


Rules Questions


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

During a session we were discussing Biohacks and the disintegrator weapons in the Character Operations Manual.

Starfinder Character Operations Manual pg42:

You can deliver any biohack you create with any attack from an injection weapon. You must declare prior to the attack roll that you are using a biohack and specify which effect you are using, but you select and apply the biohack as part of the action used to make the attack. You do not need to preload your weapon with biohacks. If you are making a ranged attack and miss your target, the biohack is expended along with the attack’s ammunition. A biohack delivered via a melee injection weapon is not normally expended on a missed attack. If you must attempt an attack roll with a biohack and your attack hits but deals no damage (normally as a result of damage reduction or an ability such as the vanguard’s mitigate), the biohack is expended but the target is not affected by it. After a missed attack that does not expend the biohack, you can remove it or change which biohack you are using as part of your next attack without taking any additional action.”

Starfinder Character Operations Manual pg 123:

“Much of the design of this pistol-like weapon is based off the biological systems of the disintegration lash class of small arms, though a caustoject’s more traditional appearance is in stark contrast to its techno-organic inspiration. Caustojects create an injectable field that transforms ordinary matter into an acidic compound, disintegrating their targets from the inside. Syringes can be loaded into these weapons, allowing other materials to be quickly injected instead of an acidic discharge (in which case only the injection effect occurs—no acid damage is dealt).

The two elements seem to contradict. In the Biohack description you need to do some damage to enable the biohack to take effect. However, the Caustoject description implies that there is no damage from the weapon but the injection effect still occurs.

If you go down the line of specific over generic, this would seem to imply that a Biohack delivered via a Caustoject effects the target irrespective of damage reduction etc but the target would not suffer any the weapon damage.

This would compare against needler weapons which would do damage in addition to delivering the biohack but would run the risk of the biohack being stopped by damage resistance.

If you take the more general text in pg42 then the Caustoject would not be able to deliver biohacks despite being an injection weapon as it would always fall foul of the no damage rule.

Is there a clear answer (It’s likely to come up in a PFS game that I’m missing that would be great), or is it more of a GM / Table variation thing.


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I'd treat it as the caustoject harmlessly injects a biohack (or anything else) as long as the target has no acid resistance.


There's a few of those, and I'm not 100% sure how that's intended to work.

Strictly speaking, it shouldn't work.
Same with the wraith-sting rifles btw, non-damaging as they are.
That's just sad though, so I'd probably allow the non-damaging injection weapons to apply biohacks. Purely a houserule though.


I think that strictly speaking. It won't work on any attack orientated ones. But it would still work if you used the bioscanner thingy to mark your allies in the morning. Because there was a line somewhre about if they're marked with that, you don't need to attack and don't deal damage, but the injection occurs.

I don't have my book off hand though so could be misremembering


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It specifically says that the injection effect occurs. That would be specific trumping general. I don't think its unusual that the injection weapon that does zero damage has a specific exception to the rule that you need to deal damage to inject someone: it wouldn't do its job otherwise.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:
It specifically says that the injection effect occurs. That would be specific trumping general. I don't think its unusual that the injection weapon that does zero damage has a specific exception to the rule that you need to deal damage to inject someone: it wouldn't do its job otherwise.

Well I agree with that, but it does create the interesting situation that a wraith-sting rifle is actually the weapon of choice for dealing with enemies with lots of DR/resistances/immunities.

I'm okay with that.


Ascalaphus wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
It specifically says that the injection effect occurs. That would be specific trumping general. I don't think its unusual that the injection weapon that does zero damage has a specific exception to the rule that you need to deal damage to inject someone: it wouldn't do its job otherwise.

Well I agree with that, but it does create the interesting situation that a wraith-sting rifle is actually the weapon of choice for dealing with enemies with lots of DR/resistances/immunities.

I'm okay with that.

Why the wraith sting rather than the acid injector ones?


I assume due to range? Or do acid injectors have sniper rifle level ranges?

You could really mess them up from far enough away that they can't really retaliate as you widdle them down with biohacks, minor hacks, poisons, and drugs.

On the previous specific vs specific.
We're talkin the injection weapon property (that allows injections on succesful hit) vs the biohack one that stated it needs to do damage right?
" If you must attempt an attack roll with a biohack and your attack hits but deals no damage (normally as a result of damage reduction or an ability such as the vanguard’s mitigate), the biohack is expended but the target is not affected by it" I would have to argue that this spepcific would override the injection property specific. Since one is for generalized injections and one is a specific injection.

Though handwavium would be pretty fine with me, but I can see the balance portion of it. Since biohacks have no associated saves. Its hit, damage done, effect happens. Though that also means there are two prevention methods there which is also weird.
I'd probably opt for "no damage = no applied" with exception to weapons that specifically call out no damage (such as wraith sting and caustojects-which call out injecting with no damage).
----

As a sidenote though. I really love minor biohack + Healing Serum+ microlab. If you apply a minor biohack to your shot, and are attuned to them via microlab. You can auto hit and heal+minor buff.
Well assuming you can inject a healing serum anyway.


Zwordsman wrote:
Well assuming you can inject a healing serum anyway.

Darts

These light metal shafts each have a pointed tip and a reservoir to hold toxins or other appropriate substances that are typically liquid or viscous. While most combatants rely on darts to deliver toxins to enemies, particularly desperate or overworked field medics sometimes employ darts to conveniently deliver antitoxins, healing serums, and other beneficial drugs across a crowded battlefield. In these cases, medics often practice to improve their aim to ensure that this strategy is effective when employed.

A biohack with a healing serum is a gray area, a healing serum in an injection weapon is not. Its point blank called out as working.


COM’s equipment section clarified that serums are injectable via injection weapons.


Awesome. I alwasy figured they would (From the dart section long ago). Glad CoM properly clarified it. Since more than a few folks I'd met (in my limited amount of games) didn't allow it.

So yep.
Lot of fun healing buffing shots now. wooho


I like it, but I'm still not convinced.
Seems excessive to give biohacks specific, hard restrictions if they don't apply half the time - and that no damage limitation is very specific to biohacks.

The injection property itself has no mention of needing damage, at all. A successful hit is enough. No debate here.
Biohacks do have that seemingly absolute need for damage. I read it as a specific exception to the general injection rule, apparently others see it the other way around.
I realize this also covers DR, ER and other dmg mitigation, but I don't see where non-damaging weapons get a free pass.


Nyerkh wrote:


The injection property itself has no mention of needing damage, at all. A successful hit is enough. No debate here.

Its under damage reduction

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as an injury-based disease, an operative’s debilitating trick, and poison delivered via an injury. Damage reduction does not negate ability damage, ability drain, energy damage dealt as part of an attack, or negative levels, nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Attacks that deal no damage because of the target’s damage reduction do not disrupt spells.

Quote:

Biohacks do have that seemingly absolute need for damage. I read it as a specific exception to the general injection rule, apparently others see it the other way around.

1) Its a general rule that the biohacker seems to be restating, rather than making up. (or confirming it fits on that list)

2) A gun is way more specific than a class ability

3) Its a piece of equipment in a book expanding the injection weapon properties for biohackers. It would be really wierd if it didn't work with biohacks, despite clear language trying to make it work with biohacks.


Here are two odd points that came up when I was discussing this topic with another GM the other day.

1 - Does the weapon target KAC when you load a syringe, or does it stay vs. EAC because the weapon's design is normally to target that?

2 -

Biohacks wrote:
You can deliver any biohack you create with any attack from an injection weapon.

This might be yet another example of poor word choice by Paizo, but that should mean that you don't need to fire a syringe from a Caustoject in order to biohack a target.

Caustoject wrote:
Caustojects create an injectable field that transforms ordinary matter into an acidic compound, disintegrating their targets from the inside.

The weapon (emphasis mine) doesn't lose the injection special property when you're not using a syringe. You just can't use it to fire serums or medicinals without syringes, so it should be good to go for biohackers...just so long as your target isn't immune to acid damage (or if they are, have a backup plan)!


1) stays vs. EAC, no problems.

2) I don't follow what you're trying to say.


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1 - I could see different GMs ruling each way on that, even though I agree with you.

2 - I was remarking on the coolness that a Biohacker can use a caustoject's normal acid attack in conjunction with a biohack without having to enact the 0 damage syringe option (unless the target is immune to acid).


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The weapons have absolutely zero point to them if they target KAC when loaded with a biohack. There's NO rules justification for getting there. They are loaded with a SERUM. Not a dart. The entire point of the weapon is being able to load a serum in something that ISN"T delivered by a dart.


The Penecontemporaneous One wrote:
1 - I could see different GMs ruling each way on that, even though I agree with you.

They would be wrong, plain and simple.

Liberty's Edge

Heh, as I have mentioned in other threads...

I think the mistake people are making is the logical assumption that biohacks are some sort of ammo

Quote:
'Syringes can be loaded into these weapons, allowing other materials to be quickly injected instead of an acidic discharge (in which case only the injection effect occurs—no acid damage is dealt'

biohacks are not syringes, they are not a material that gets injected, they are an EX ability that is applied to the attack, they do not replace the normal effect of the attack, they are in addition to it, the above quoted rule does not apply to biohacks, only to other substances you might want to inject with the weapons (such as poisons).

it seems clear to me that the causto- weapons and syringe sticks etc were added specifically as an option for biohackers, since they appeared in the same book and the core rulebook has very few injection weapons (maybe none?)
infact I wouldnt be surprised if they invented the causto- weapons specifically as a way of applying biohacks to targets with high DR, since they are the only weapons (along with the injection glove) to deal energy damage instead of piercing. Without them biohackers would get kinda screwed over by high DR enemies


Koiju wrote:

]

biohacks are not syringes, they are not a material that gets injected, they are an EX ability that is applied to the attack,

Applied to any attack with an injection weapon... If its not using the syringe then why does it require an injection weapon?

Liberty's Edge

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because the rules say so.

I understand why you are making the assumption, it makes sense, but im going explicitly by the rules here, and they simply say that the weapon needs to have the injection property, not that they need to have that property because its being injected instead of the normal ammo.

the whole description of biohacks implies that the biohack is being applied in addition to the attacks normal effects, it does not say anywhere that it replaces the effects, or that it is replacing the ammo you are using, it even says that the biohack is expended in addition to the ammo itself, implying that the biohack is applied in addition to the burny acid effect. (the acid being the ammo itself).

note that the fluff discription of the disintigrator weapons (which all the causto- weapons are, and only the cuasto- weapons and injection glove are) says that they dont actually inject acid, and generate an energy field that breaks down the bonds between atoms, creating an effect similar to an acid. how does this energy field then allow you to inject them with poison instead of the acid like effect? no idea, the causto- weapons are a bit 'wierd science' :D but then so are biohackers *shrug*

its also worth noting that the caustolance does less damage than equivalent weapons, the tier 1 laser rifle does 1d8 damage and at double the range, for example.
I believe this is to balance them with biohackers using biohacks in mind.


Koiju wrote:
how does this energy field then allow you to inject them with poison instead of the acid like effect? no idea, the causto- weapons are a bit 'wierd science' :D

The caustoject uses syringes. That's why it doesn't do damage when injecting something.

The caustolance use a special tank that is attached to the weapon’s barrel. (I have no idea how this works either)

Liberty's Edge

since biohacks are not syringes though, this doesnt apply to biohacks. at no point does the ability say that you create a syringe or ammo to be fired, you simply apply the biohack to 'the attack' not to the gun, not to the ammo, to 'the attack'.
the ability even implies this by saying that you dont need to 'pre-load' your weapon with biohacks, thats because they arnt ammo (or syringes), they are just an effect that happens because 'science!'.

If you are looking to wrap your head around how this works in a logical way, the best I can think of is that your microlab has a small teleporter inside it and can 'lock on' to ammo fired by your weapons (as long as they 'inject' into the target, ie, have the inject property) and then teleport the compounds directly into your targets blood stream (or similar). this would also explain why you dont need to roll to hit when targeting someone linked to your microlab, its already got a lock on them and can just teleport stuff into them like a transporter from startrek, heh.
Of course the biohack description doesn't say anything like this, but its the best ive got for verisimilitude :P


Yep I'll probably never use Caustojects over a nightarch pistol myself. Due to the fact that jets use a needle and it must be loaded (so injecting anything other than a biohack or Medicinal Mastery (both are added to attacks with injection-not loaded).

but Caustolances I think are an extremely appealing long arm choice. Might be the one I turn into a "sniper rifle" like object. (since the only injection sniper rifle does no d amage). No clue how many different ssubstances can fit in the tank.. It doesn't list anything but a plural.
But it reads like you probably have an entry way to inject stuff into the cannister, which is then added to the shots.
So I assume you can put up to your total "clip" or "magazine" worth of battery shots. Or put more in as a Loading action (though this one is an assumption)

As for how it works? Not too hard to guess. They have Air Injection in the real world. So the field that it fires-that eats away at stuff, most likely has an inner layer that is pressurized with the substance. When it impacts and eats away-eventually it breaches the pressurized zone and it injects via pressure. That makes sense based on current ideas and the SciFi rules.
=========

Also, the abilty itself calls out no need to 'preload' biohacks.

as for how biohacks work. I just assume it takes a note from old pathfinder. You're in the moment analyzing the target- and apply it to the ammo/shot/etc in whatever fluff you want to. Whether thats you loading a 'special bullet' or injecting an into the gun. Or you having modified your firearm to apply substances to the shot. Or your firearm (in dart case) has a resivour and you add it to that.
Any sort of fluff you like in the end.


Zwordsman wrote:

Yep I'll probably never use Caustojects over a nightarch pistol myself. Due to the fact that jets use a needle and it must be loaded (so injecting anything other than a biohack or Medicinal Mastery (both are added to attacks with injection-not loaded).

Much of the design of this pistol-like weapon is based off the biological systems of the disintegration lash class of small arms, though a caustoject’s more traditional appearance is in stark contrast to its techno-organic inspiration. Caustojects create an injectable field that transforms ordinary matter into an acidic compound , disintegrating their targets from the inside.

Syringes can be loaded into these weapons, allowing other materials to be quickly injected instead of an acidic discharge (in which case only the injection effect occurs—no acid damage is dealt).

The jects do NOT use a needle/dart. You put a syringe (not a needle, which is ammo) into it, and the weapon fires a force field filled with whatever was in the syringe instead of its usual acid. It targets EAC instead of kac (which is almost a +2 to hit) and doesn't need to damage to inject.

If you're keeping a gun filled with medicinals to shoot your allies you want one of these. You target their easier to hit EAC, and don't need to get through your tanks DR with a needler and it won't damage them to heal them.

The only thing you'd use the nightarch for is if something is acid resistant.


Oh good point there. Though I wonder how you load the Jects then with it. Do you have to buy syringes? prefil them? Or is it assumed it comes with stuff somehow in normal maintainance?
Its easy to use with biohacks and Med Mastery theorom stuff at least. Other injectables I'm less sure if it doesn't load needles. Syringes are a bit more nebulous rule wise.
I didn't think loading the needle changed any of its properties. still EAC. I just don't know where you functionally obtain syringes otherwise.

So I guess the easiest way is to assume the gun comes with a set, and or creates it out of the similiar field concepts or something... though the Lances have the verbage for that method.

also hits the issues with some things (biohacks and i think poisons) where the injection doesn't work if there is no damage. Which for the small arm caustos I don't think it does when injecting other things. I don't think it gets the bypass that electing to do no damage via injection mastery does.
Similiar to the issue with the Injection sniper rifle not working due to no damage


Keep in mind that a syringe is the plungery part of the needle... its a needle minus the scary part. So what I'm picturing is something like this

Quote:


also hits the issues with some things (biohacks and i think poisons) where the injection doesn't work if there is no damage. Which for the small arm caustos I don't think it does when injecting other things. I don't think it gets the bypass that electing to do no damage via injection mastery does.
Similiar to the issue with the Injection sniper rifle not working due to no damage

The biohacker rule is just restating the general rule that things that are injected do no damage.

The gun is a very very specific rule and should override that.


Caustoject's specific is the reason it deals no damage. The biohack would still be used-it just would have no effect.

random quotes mentioned:

"Syringes can be loaded into these weapons, allowing other materials to be quickly injected instead of an acidic discharge (in which case only the injection effect occurs—no acid damage is dealt).
SFS Legal Caustoject, Liquidator"

. Under some circumstances, you can deliver biohacks to attuned creatures using ranged injection weapons without making an attack roll.

If you must attempt an attack roll with a biohack and your attack hits but deals no damage (normally as a result of damage reduction or an ability such as the vanguard’s mitigate), the biohack is expended but the target is not affected by it.

Caustojects are fine if you're shooting acid. But if you're trying to inject a healing, poison, or medicnal then the gun does no damage so the biohack won't go. Extreme corner case though given that most likely you'll be in range of your microlab''s 'no attack roll' feature for the ally side. But you can't say.. Sicken biohack+poison in one attack -like you could with a diff injection weapon. You'd have to do two separate attacks.

Wraith sting snipers , will just not work with biohacks-outside of the microlab's attunement range. Which kind of sucks.
at least as near as I can tell.

Ideally I have missed an interaction though.


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Zwordsman you're not answering the objection I have to your statement.

Specific trumps general.

How a gun works is about as specific as a thing there is.

(normally as a result of damage reduction or an ability such as the vanguard’s mitigate), the biohack is expended but the target is not affected by it.

Yes, this rule is there, but the caustoject should superceed it. The biohacker rule is just a restatement of the general rule about attacks and riders. Yes, you have a rule saying the opposite but you're not acknowledging or dealing with a rule to the contrary.

Whenever damage reduction completely negates the damage from an attack, it also negates most special effects that accompany the attack, such as an injury-based disease, an operative’s debilitating trick, and poison delivered via an injury. Damage reduction does not negate ability damage, ability drain, energy damage dealt as part of an attack, or negative levels, nor does it affect poisons or diseases delivered by contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Attacks that deal no damage because of the target’s damage reduction do not disrupt spells.

General rules: The snake doesn't get through your chaps, it doesn't poison you

Biohacker level specific: The biohacks use the same rules as poison.

Gun level specific: this gun doesn't need to damage something to inflict the condition.

Without that the gun would NEVER work


@BigNorseWolf -> I begin to think it's a faq candidate...


EDIT: dang lost my original version of reply. So here is a shortened version
--
Ah I see. I was misunderstanding where your detail was. My bad.

As per the weapon specific the injection still occurs. The caustoject's specific makes the injection still happen on a hit. So whatever you loaded-as well as the biohack is applied. But the biohack itself stipluates when appleid via an attack roll it must have damage to take effect, otherwise the biohack is wasted.

So, caustoject lets you fire the injectable. It is applied (injected). However it then checks Biohack's rules, that stipulation on damage being required to take effect. There is no damage, so the biohack is wasted.

The injection still occurs, as per the caustoject. Same as any other injection weapon really. but there is no damage so the biohack fails-as per its own rules. The caustoject's specific doesn't interact with the biohack. The effect of the injection is applied-i.e. the biohack is applied. but as per the biohack section, it is wasted due to no damage.

Sidenote: (The biohack section on using as a melee weapon (Syringe form lab) does carry a specific clause for no damage though. But I'm not sure that applies to all no damage situations.)

The way I understand the interactions is:
Load whatever you're injecting. Fire(attack roll) at which point you can also apply a biohack. attack hits. Injection(s) occur. Biohack is applied, but the damage check is failed, and the biohack is wasted as per normal damage check upon application.

Did you mean that the 'takes effect' from the caustoject means it overrides that specific damage check? But then it would also overridie any other restriction on injections (such as biology etc) Wouldn't it?

(Also thanks for the civil discourse)


Zwordsman wrote:
Did you mean that the 'takes effect' from the caustoject means it overrides that specific damage check? But then it would also overridie any other restriction on injections (such as biology etc) Wouldn't it?

This absolutely does not follow. At all.

The caustoject overrides the rules it says it overrides (neeeding to do damage) does NOT , in any way, shape, or form, argue that the caustoject overrides all of the rules.

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