Manage Course

Rules Questions

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Is there something I'm missing here? The rules seem like a lot of tedious extra rolls for a statistical net loss.

Do pilots normally know how long the trip is going to take at the start of the trip?

Let's say you are traveling to an unfamiliar system in The Vast with a Drift 1 drive in your ship, and you expect to fail your navigate roll without noticing. So that's 6d6/1 for travel time, probably the best case for travel time reduction with Manage Course downtime activity.

Each successful day Managing Course, you shave 6 hours off your travel time, but raise the minimum travel time by 1 day. If you have a failure, not only have you raised the minimum travel time, but you worsen actual travel time as well.

So the average is 21 days to travel there, minimum 6. Let's spend 8 days Managing Course. You've now raised your minimum to 14 days to get there, in order to shave a maximum of 2 days off your travel time. So now your travel time is 14-34 days instead of 6-36. Of course, if you succeeded at the navigate roll, it'd be 13-28 days, instead of 5-30.

Manage Course worsens your best-case travel time by 24 hours to knock 6 hours off your worst-case. Over the long term, your average travel time goes up.

It gets even worse for shorter trips or with a better drift engine.

This seems like a lot of extra tests, making travel tedious, for something that slows travel more than it helps. Why?

If the Manage Course days could overlap with the minimum travel time, so spending 8 days managing course only adds 3 days to your fastest travel time, and knocks 2 days off the worst. And spending 5 would be free, as long as you don't fail.

Odds of failure are 10 worse than your initial navigate check. So DC35 to Manage Course to The Vast. Er.


"Plotting a course to a star system you have visited frequently usually requires a successful DC 10 Piloting check"

Once your Piloting bonus is substantial enough, you can only improve your time.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Not when the minimum time to travel goes up with each day spent managing course...

The minimum time being increased by days spent managing course baffles me.

If you roll a 5, and try to manage your course, you ALWAYS increase travel time.

And per-day checks dramatically increase the chances of a bad roll causing a disaster. Overall, it looks like the best option is to travel vanilla, it's faster on average (though not worst case), and less risky.

Here's another way to look at it, every successful day of managing the course adds 18 hours to the trip length (+24 for the check and -6 for success). Every failure by 5 to 9 points adds 30 hours, every failure by 10+ adds 1d6+1 days.

But the manage course rolls are independent of the trip time roll. They can't affect that roll, they just modify the resulting value.

Edit: that's assuming that you don't roll within the minimum or maximun times. Since it's a bell curve roll those are unusual instances, but both are equally likely.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Except the RAW say it raises the minimum by 1 day per day spent at Manage Course.

RAI just about have to be something else. Because as it's written it just seems to be a trap option.

Unless I'm misreading it. p154 COM: "For example, a trip to the
Vast during which the Pilot spends 3 days successfully managing
the course can’t be reduced below 8 days (5 minimum for the
trip plus 3 days spent managing course). Only one creature can
perform this activity for a given starship each day."

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Nope, I think you got it just slightly wrong.

Here, the rules:
Results: On a success, you reduce your total travel time by 6 hours. If you fail by 5 or more, you instead add 6 hours to the trip. If you fail by 10 or more, you also suffer more serious consequences as normal. You can’t reduce the total travel time below its normal minimum plus the number of days spent managing the course. For example, a trip to the Vast during which the Pilot spends 3 days successfully managing the course can’t be reduced below 8 days (5 minimum for the trip plus 3 days spent managing course). Only one creature can perform this activity for a given starship each day.

You don't add a day. You just can't reduce your time to lower than minimum travel time plus 1 day per time you try to to manage course.

At no point does this say you add travel time on a success or increase minimum travel time.


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It's important to note that this is a Downtime activity.

The ship is flying on its own already. You're not increasing travel time by managing course (unless you roll badly, but then you probably wouldn't attempt this if you could fail the roll anyways).

So, yes, I believe you're misreading it.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I don't think I have it wrong. Note the days managing the course, and the use of the word minimum. It may not be intended to work how I'm reading it, but especially if the players don't know the time rolled, there are pessimizations. And then there's the mess of trying to calculate it out day by day, especially with a faster drift drive.

Sanity: Reduce it to one roll for Manage Course on an entire drift travel, success gets you there in 3/4 the time, narrow failure no change, 5 point failure it takes 1.25 times as long, fail by 10 or more for more serious consequences solves the whole thing without it turning into a pilot trap minigame. Minimum time is still the minimum possible to roll. Then apply your Drift drive divider.

Clean, fast, doesn't exchange small benefits for many chances at mishap, and lets you move on to handling the other character's downtime during travel. Or if they aren't, just get on to the action faster. Pilot/astrogator gets to feel more like Han Solo, Daniel Leary, or Val Con yos'Phelium (if their skill and luck supports it).

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I know you don't think you have it wrong. You made some very good points (well, the points would have been good if it was actually broken) about how it can't possibly work the way you read it.

Good news. It doesn't work the way you read it. You won!

On a serious note, the text appears to be correct, the ability appears to work as intended.

Changing how it works for sanity or vanity's sake is kind of beyond the scope, here.

Ah, I'm the one who had it wrong.

So it's increase the minimum time by 24 hours to +/- 6 hours of total trip time, assuming that you never fail by more than 9.

Hmm. On 3d6 48% of rolls are in the 9-12 range. Spend 6 days, assume no chance of failure, your minimum is now 9 days. Roughly half your trips are 9 days, the other half are a day and a half shorter... math... Your average near space trip time goes from 11.5 to 9.9 days with a +19 skill. Minimum 9 days, maximum 16.5 days. Requires a 7th level npc or equal pc.

Edit: so on half/60% of your trips it takes 0 to 6 days longer than normal and on the rest it's shorter by 6 to 36 hours.

Edit edit: I mucked up some of the math. Average is closer to 10.2 days.

Edit #3: I figured it out. You start managing the day after the minimum trip time as long as you can't fail by 10+. That way the minimum time increases at the same rate as time spent in the drift and you reduce time on average more than you increase time. So for an unknown destination into the vast you need a +25 skill check and you begin managing on day 6 of the trip. As long as you make more than half the rolls you improve the trip time.

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It doesn't increase your minimum time. I really don't know why you're taking the phrase 'Can't be reduced' and translating into 'increases time.'

You're travelling somewhere in the Vast, you have a drift rating of one. So you roll your 5d6. Your trip takes 25 days.

Now, your minimum travel time is 5 days, because of the 5 in 5d6.

You want to use manage course to bring that time down. Lets just say you succeed on every roll for the sake of simplicity here.

So, every day you use manage course to lessen your travel by 6 hours. 8 days in, your total travel time is now 25-8-2, for 15 days left. Your minimum is STILL 5 days, but you can't reduce your time below 13 days now. That's 5 (initial min time) plus 8 (amount of times you used manage course.) So the next day, you remove 1 day for travel (now you're at 14 days) and then 6 hour for manage course. You're now at 5 minimum days, plus 9 manage courses. You can no longer reduce the time it takes using manage course, because your total time left to travel equals your initial minimum plus 9.

That's what 'can't be reduced' means. It most certainly does not mean that you're adding time to your journey.

Actually, after thinking about it, this might be better illustrated by a string of failures.

We’ll do a trip to Near Space for less math, because it’s early in the morning here.

So, you roll your 3d6. Your trip takes 9 days, minimum 3.

Day one, fail your check. You now have 8 days, 6 hours.
Day two, fail your check. You now have 7 days, 12 hours.
Day three, fail your check. You now have 6 days, 18 hours.
Day four, fail your check. You now have 6 days.

But, because your initial minimum is 3 and you’ve made 4 attempts, you can no longer reduce your travel time because 3+4 is 7, and you can’t reduce your time further than 7.

This is slightly different, because you failed your manage course checks and actually DID add time to your journey. This is the only way it would work in the manner described in previous posts.

I think I get what you're saying and I think you're right.

So the process is:
Roll travel time.
Spend a day managing and roll your check.
Alter the travel time unless the travel time would become less than the minimum trip time (1, 3, or 5 days) plus days spent managing.

It's still annoying to do and a terrible idea if you can fail by 10. But it doesn't automatically screw you over if you rolled low on travel time and try any ways.


You can Take 10 on this check.

This is probably SOP for every mid-high level pilot.

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