Operative / Trick Attack and the Magical Assassin Alt Feature

Rules Questions


Still really new to Starfinder, and my group is in its session 0 for a new campaign.

I made an Operative that has the Magical Assassin alt feature, which swaps out the normal trick attack and Debilitating strike/Double Debilitation for a flexible, magical version of TA. But while making my Operative, I noticed that a good chunk of exploits and all of the specializations utilize your trick attack in some way, and none of them mention MA (likely because the feature came out later). I know wording is very important for TTRPGs, and I'm looking for clarification so I don't pick anything based on a trait that'll be useless to me in-game.

Once you choose Magical Assassin, are you then locked out of anything that alters or uses trick attack? Are exploits no longer giving bonuses on your magic "trick attack"? Are your specializations not giving bonuses either? I'm not sure if MA is supposed to lock you out of them, or if it's meant to serve in place of TA in those cases. I asked my DM, and he's not sure either, since the exploits all alter how you use TA, and it throws him off.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

There are a lot of open questions around how Trick Attack and Trick Attack-adjacent things (not least of which is Magical Assassin, but also including Stunt and Strike) interact with specific wordings. There's the issue of Operative Exploits like you noted, but there's also feats (like Spring Attack) and class features (like Solarians' Lunar Weapon) and who knows what else out there. In short: there's not been an official answer, so it really is up to your GM in a lot of these cases. Other than that, best we can do is hit the FAQ button on some of the bigger threads asking similar questions, and maybe one day they'll get answered ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Personally, for my money, I err on the side of "eh just let things that mostly act like Trick Attack count as Trick Attack unless it's obviously detrimental to game balance." Then again, I've seen other GMs say no because Operatives are already pretty good at everything, so they don't need more indirect buffs from overly-generous readings of the rules. Expect table variance, I guess.

That said though, in this case, I think it's a bit more clear-cut for this specifically: because Magical Assassin specifically says it replaces Trick Attack, it's easier to argue it doesn't count as Trick Attack. You are giving up Trick Attack, and all the things that interact with Trick Attack, to get a shiny magic weapon. (Other Alternate Class Features that say they alter Trick Attack might be easier to make a case for.)

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I would treat it like the Sniper alternate class feature, which go this errata:


Add the following sentence at the end of the first paragraph of the Sniper alternate class feature.

This ability counts as a trick attack for the purpose of other operative abilities, such as debilitating trick.

Hopefully they'll get around to making it official one day for similar ability swap outs.

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