Versatile Specialization vs Weapon Specialization


Rules Questions

Liberty's Edge

Quote:

Versatile Specialization (Combat)

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 163
You know how to get full value out of weapon types your class doesn’t normally use.

Prerequisites: Weapon Specialization, character level 3rd.

Benefit: You gain specialization (see page 243) in all weapons with which you are proficient that can be selected with Weapon Specialization.

Quote:

Weapon Specialization (Combat)

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 163
You know how to get the full damage out of a weapon type your class doesn’t normally use.

Prerequisites: Character level 3rd, proficiency with selected weapon type.

Benefit: Choose one weapon type (small arms, longarms, heavy weapons, etc.). You gain specialization in that weapon type, which means you add your character level to damage with the selected weapon type, or half your character level for small arms or operative melee weapons. You can never have specialization in grenades.

Why would anyone or any of the classes ever choose Weapon Specialization over Versatile?


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

Because they have more than one class and really want specialization at character level 3. They may be planning to use a mnemonic editor in the near future, but right now they don't qualify for versatile specialization.

Liberty's Edge

... I guess...

Seems redundant and a waste.


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

Agreed, especially since the sample builds in the Core Rulebook use Weapon Specialization even for single classed characters who could go straight to Versatile Specialization. It makes me wonder whether this automatically qualifying for Versatile Specialization at 3rd level in any class was intended.

Shadow Lodge

I took it with my solarion mystic at 3rd. otherwise I'd have had to wait until 5th lvl before I got weapon specialization.

Sczarni

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Plus I think it's probably easier from a design POV to just have Weapon Specialization described in one place so that it can be easily referenced to.


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Multiclass characters, in general. Take 1-2 levels of something and still want to fight well when you change classes. And yeah, that's something that you Mnemonic Edit away later.

I would have used it on my mystic/operative if I hadn't been a dwarf to get automatic specialization at 3rd character level.

Scarab Sages

Dracomicron wrote:

Multiclass characters, in general. Take 1-2 levels of something and still want to fight well when you change classes. And yeah, that's something that you Mnemonic Edit away later.

I would have used it on my mystic/operative if I hadn't been a dwarf to get automatic specialization at 3rd character level.

Ah yes - for those who take a 1-level dip in Soldier to get the wide range of Weapons etc. Then once you have L3 in your main class and get WS there, you can use Versatile Specialization to catch-up with the Soldier-granted profs.


This was noticed years ago when the game came out and people were confused by it.

Ultimately, the understanding was that you could take versatile specialization at character level 3, assuming you didn't multiclass (because that's when everyone gets weapon specialization with their innate weapon proficiency groups).

So the weapon specialization feat is basically only for multiclass characters who don't want to wait until they hit 3 levels in a class.

In general I think Starfinder characters aren't served very well by multiclassing in most instances, so it doesn't come up much, but I'm sure there are plenty of people that do it and don't want to lose out on damage compared to the rest of their party for a level.

Later you use the mnemonic editor to replace it.


I played an AP once where two out of four party members took weapon proficiency feats so that we could make use of the numerous advanced melee and longarm weapons our defeated enemies carried. Neither of us wanted to slow down access to class features by multiclassing. It was only a 3-book AP, so only one of us ended up taking Versatile Specialization, but my PC probably would have, too, if the campaign had gone past 6th level.


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This is one of the reasons why I tend to think Weapon Specialization should be eliminated as a feat/class ability, with the level-based damage just made a default part of the rules. Everyone always gets to add their level to damage, its just part of having a level. Or half level for certain weapons ( and 1.5x level for others ), but that would still be a property of the specific attack. The idea of adding level to damage would be part of the combat system.


Metaphysician wrote:
This is one of the reasons why I tend to think Weapon Specialization should be eliminated as a feat/class ability, with the level-based damage just made a default part of the rules. Everyone always gets to add their level to damage, its just part of having a level. Or half level for certain weapons ( and 1.5x level for others ), but that would still be a property of the specific attack. The idea of adding level to damage would be part of the combat system.

It practically is metaphysician, it's just that without the feats existing you'd either be locked into only being able to use certain weapons because you'd never get weapon specialization or assuming you let everyone get weapon specialization with any weapon you'd have to give every class that has innate proficiencies above basic melee weapons and small arms some sort of bonus to compensate.

To be honest, I don't feel like there are many feats in Starfinder worth taking in the first place. So picking up proficiency via feats for weapons and armor as well as versatile specialization actually feel like good choices. Unlike PF1 where you had some many options you just found a way to ignore it and do something as good/better.

Like mithral kikko armor. Why bother getting medium armor proficiency when you could reduce the armor check penalty to 0 with mithral. Or there was a trait that let you reduce it by 1 and you could pickup mithral breastplate, again getting you ACP to 0. Sure, you weren't proficient with them but you had no penalties because you got the ACP to 0.


Claxon wrote:
Metaphysician wrote:
This is one of the reasons why I tend to think Weapon Specialization should be eliminated as a feat/class ability, with the level-based damage just made a default part of the rules. Everyone always gets to add their level to damage, its just part of having a level. Or half level for certain weapons ( and 1.5x level for others ), but that would still be a property of the specific attack. The idea of adding level to damage would be part of the combat system.

It practically is metaphysician, it's just that without the feats existing you'd either be locked into only being able to use certain weapons because you'd never get weapon specialization or assuming you let everyone get weapon specialization with any weapon you'd have to give every class that has innate proficiencies above basic melee weapons and small arms some sort of bonus to compensate.

To be honest, I don't feel like there are many feats in Starfinder worth taking in the first place. So picking up proficiency via feats for weapons and armor as well as versatile specialization actually feel like good choices. Unlike PF1 where you had some many options you just found a way to ignore it and do something as good/better.

Like mithral kikko armor. Why bother getting medium armor proficiency when you could reduce the armor check penalty to 0 with mithral. Or there was a trait that let you reduce it by 1 and you could pickup mithral breastplate, again getting you ACP to 0. Sure, you weren't proficient with them but you had no penalties because you got the ACP to 0.

I mean, I am actually 100% okay with the idea that everyone just gets the "specialization" damage for any weapon with which they are proficient. Sure, it means slightly fewer obvious Feat picks, but that is more a problem with the available pool of feats and/or the general metagame view of such. This suggested house rule of mine is less about game balance and more about ease of use.


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Generally speaking, the feats in Starfinder are...lackluster. I will definitely agree to that.

Such that spending feats to get proficiency with longarms is basically something that everyone but melee focused characters, and operative characters (and characters that already have it) should do. And everyone should always go for specialization damage in any weapon they're going to use. Weapons aren't really competitive without it.

And spending a feat on heavy armor proficiency is something practically everyone could do, although the return is very marginal if you're going to maximize your dex. But if you're playing a melee build on a class that doesn't normally support it, picking up heavy armor proficiency can offset the ability score cost (normally you would need dex and class stat, but for melee you need str, class stat, and still want dex) and keep your AC up to par.

I think the problem really lies in the fact that just allowing anyone to do it, without the feats, means characters that innately got it lose out on a little something. If there were more worthwhile feats I might agree, because then your soldier or solarion might have something useful to pick up. But I have a really hard time finding feats that are generally useful and not really limited in scope to how often I would use them. Those classes just end up with nothing to spend the feats on but the others just got a free bonus. It doesn't move the ceiling of power, but it chips away at the floor when there already wasn't a huge gulf because most people picked those feats up anyways.

I guess the best answer would be something along the lines of "produce more good feats that are generally useful" and give classes some bonus feats to make up for the change in how weapon specialization would function.


I have a melee operative that started with a 12 dex and got hit in the face a LOT, but generally unless you absolutely need to be in between your party and the monster you won't go very far into HP in most non boss encounters.

I generally see armor as a place to put armor upgrades. Starfinder baddies have so much hit they WILL connect. Unlike pf2 there's no downside to being hit by 10 or 12.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

I have a melee operative that started with a 12 dex and got hit in the face a LOT, but generally unless you absolutely need to be in between your party and the monster you won't go very far into HP in most non boss encounters.

I generally see armor as a place to put armor upgrades. Starfinder baddies have so much hit they WILL connect. Unlike pf2 there's no downside to being hit by 10 or 12.

That's pretty true. Crits being nat 20s only and since you have stamina and almost always the opportunity to rest between fights it's been a really small number of times that I've seen or had characters go into actual HP damage.

Unless you were referring to something else talking about being hit by a 10 vs a 12.


Eh, I feel like "almost always have the opportunity to rest between fights" is *very* conditional. Sure, *some* scenarios will allow the players to take a 10 minute break whenever, but especially against intelligent opponents, there are a lot of situations where a 10 minute rest is impossible. Once the alert goes up, the enemy forces *will* comb the facility, and even if the players have broken contact it will take less than 10 minutes of staying still for more enemies to find them.

( Unless the players came up with an especially clever plan for how to hide while they rest, like stealthily hiding in one shipping container out of a hundred in a warehouse, natch. Its not impossible for the PCs to get a rest, it just needs to be earned when facing intelligent opposition who would not want to just allow enemy forces to stop for lunch on their turf. )


Sorry, I guess when I think of "a fight" inside of a building (Starfinder APs seem to have a lot of fights inside moderate size (like 10-20 room) buildings. Not every room has enemies inside it, but there will be 3-5 groups of enemies. But I honestly just count it as one encounter because we will play enemies as reacting to the fights. So, one guy might pop out, see what's happening and go back into the room and then the players will throw a smoke grenade into the room or try to find a way to lure the enemy out. My general experience has been that:
1) I don't sustain enough damage even through those groups to get into actual HP damage
2) If I do, it's typically at the end
3) I can expect to have a rest for stamina
4) I've probably taken only enough HP damage that 1 on level bandage/serum will fix me up.

When building adjusting encounters, a GM has to account for the fact that if other enemies are going to be drug into the encounter because they can hear the enemy, that you have to factor in those additional enemies into the overall difficulty budget as one encounter. Now you have to make adjustments because they might trickle in, they definitely don't all start at the same time so it's not like you're fighting twice the number of enemies you would expect....unless you have a bad/dishonest GM that wants to make things harder without accounting for that like they should.

Dataphiles

BigNorseWolf wrote:

I have a melee operative that started with a 12 dex and got hit in the face a LOT, but generally unless you absolutely need to be in between your party and the monster you won't go very far into HP in most non boss encounters.

I generally see armor as a place to put armor upgrades. Starfinder baddies have so much hit they WILL connect. Unlike pf2 there's no downside to being hit by 10 or 12.

It seems important to note that it could make a difference if the enemy has grab.


Claxon wrote:

Sorry, I guess when I think of "a fight" inside of a building (Starfinder APs seem to have a lot of fights inside moderate size (like 10-20 room) buildings. Not every room has enemies inside it, but there will be 3-5 groups of enemies. But I honestly just count it as one encounter because we will play enemies as reacting to the fights. So, one guy might pop out, see what's happening and go back into the room and then the players will throw a smoke grenade into the room or try to find a way to lure the enemy out. My general experience has been that:

1) I don't sustain enough damage even through those groups to get into actual HP damage
2) If I do, it's typically at the end
3) I can expect to have a rest for stamina after the building is cleared
4) I've probably taken only enough HP damage that 1 on level bandage/serum will fix me up.

When building adjusting encounters, a GM has to account for the fact that if other enemies are going to be drug into the encounter because they can hear the enemy, that you have to factor in those additional enemies into the overall difficulty budget as one encounter. Now you have to make adjustments because they might trickle in, they definitely don't all start at the same time so it's not like you're fighting twice the number of enemies you would expect....unless you have a bad/dishonest GM that wants to make things harder without accounting for that like they should.

To clarify my meaning

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