Should Android have the Tech trait?


Field Test Discussion


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I get why they may not want to subject PCs to the downsides (or upsides?) of the tech trait, but androids not being able to get the glitching condition is a HUGE loss of verisimilitude for me that (currently) I don't personally see a good balance justification for. Perhaps, at the very least, make it opt-in as an uncommon option?

Also, I noticed in the latest play test that the phrase "technological trait" and "tech trait" are both used, are these intended to mean the same thing?


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I agree with this. I get that androids were already implemented in Pathfinder and changing the base ancestry would harm compatibility, but I feel the tech trait is a good opportunity to drive the greater differences people wanted to see from Starfinder 2e ancestries. Making them vulnerable to glitching in exchange for at least some android-flavored benefit, like dealing better in a vacuum or the like, would have driven that difference without necessarily making the ancestry too powerful either.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Yeah, I agree that giving them the tech trait in exchange for more construct immunities would help amp up the feel, but at the same time I can understand saving those more dramatic benefits and drawbacks for SROs, holograms, and other machine-beings. I'm okay with androids being a stepping stone between organic and synthetic characters, especially since their internal machinery seems complex and pseudo-biological enough to blur the line.


Being relatively new to Starfinder, I checked the Archives of Nethys and my Starfinder Core Rulebook for a property called "tech." Starfinder does not name its properties "traits," but I thought that Skabb was speaking colloquially.

Naturally, "tech" is a trait from Starfinder Field Test #1 which does name its properties "traits."

Starfinder Field Test #1, New Equipment, Relevant Weapon Traits, page 9 wrote:
Tech: Weapons with the tech trait incorporate electronics, computer systems, and power sources. Sometimes the weapons use such little energy that they can rely on integrated power sources (such as melee weapons that don’t have a capacity), while others drain batteries with attacks. Weapon runes (as found in Pathfinder) don’t function on these weapons.

Tech is a weapon trait. Putting tech on the android ancestry would make people wonder whether the android could be affected by spells and devices that affect tech weapons. For example, an EMP weapon makes worn and wielded technology stop functioning for one round. The current EMP text has a special line for constructs, that they are only staggered. If "tech" becomes both a weapon trait and a creature trait for androids and constructs, then all the spells and devices that affect tech will have to be written in two modes, one for items and one for creatures.

Using different names for the weapon trait and the creature trait would be clearer.

By the way, would a tech android be able to use Handwraps of Mighty Blows, since weapon runes don't function on tech?

HolyFlamingo! wrote:
Yeah, I agree that giving them the tech trait in exchange for more construct immunities would help amp up the feel, but at the same time I can understand saving those more dramatic benefits and drawbacks for SROs, holograms, and other machine-beings. I'm okay with androids being a stepping stone between organic and synthetic characters, especially since their internal machinery seems complex and pseudo-biological enough to blur the line.

The Pathfinder 2nd Edition design paradigm gives a solid core of basic abilities, such as adding level to the proficiency bonus of all trained skills, to all characters. Removing something from those basic abilities from a class or ancestry has to be carefully judged whether it invalidates some standard scenarios. "Oh, your circuitry glitches in water, so you cannot swim across the river. I guess we cannot finish this 1st-level mission." "Oh, you are totally immune to poison, so you can fight the venomous snake while the rest of us hide around the corner."

Giving a special weakness in exchange for a special immunity does not cancel out the specialness. Instead, both special features have to be judged how they affect scenarios. This does not mean that those special features must be avoided--in fact, well-designed special features are fun--but each one added to a creature makes the designing more difficult rather than easier.


Androids are Constructed but are as much living as machine. The rules specify them as needing to eat and sleep and having biological components. They're described as constructed (mostly) of nanites, so it can be inferred that these nanites are a kind of synthetic life born of biotechnology (and technomancy?) as much as or more than computer technology. Unlike SRO's that are constructed wholly or mostly of metal, glass, silicon, advanced AI software, and UPB's I suppose.

that's referring to the SF1E description though. They have been re-described, more vaguely, in PF2E rules, and have lost some things. For example in PF2E they need to breathe but in SF1E they don't.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Biochemically speaking, if something has to eat, it probably also has to breathe. Can't metabolize stuff without oxygen, y'know?

And like, sure, a life-form could use some kind of alternate chemistry (plants, anaerobic bacteria, and a ton of funky speculative fiction examples say hi), and we also have frickin' magic, but getting your energy from food implies you're breaking it down somehow.


Mathmuse wrote:

Naturally, "tech" is a trait from Starfinder Field Test #1 which does name its properties "traits."

Starfinder Field Test #1, New Equipment, Relevant Weapon Traits, page 9 wrote:
Tech: Weapons with the tech trait incorporate electronics, computer systems, and power sources. Sometimes the weapons use such little energy that they can rely on integrated power sources (such as melee weapons that don’t have a capacity), while others drain batteries with attacks. Weapon runes (as found in Pathfinder) don’t function on these weapons.
Tech is a weapon trait.

I can see why you'd say that, but Glitching is a condition from Field Test 1.

Quote:
Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value.

That rather strongly suggests that creatures can have the tech trait.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:

Naturally, "tech" is a trait from Starfinder Field Test #1 which does name its properties "traits."

Starfinder Field Test #1, New Equipment, Relevant Weapon Traits, page 9 wrote:
Tech: Weapons with the tech trait incorporate electronics, computer systems, and power sources. Sometimes the weapons use such little energy that they can rely on integrated power sources (such as melee weapons that don’t have a capacity), while others drain batteries with attacks. Weapon runes (as found in Pathfinder) don’t function on these weapons.
Tech is a weapon trait.

I can see why you'd say that, but Glitching is a condition from Field Test 1.

Quote:
Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value.
That rather strongly suggests that creatures can have the tech trait.

I see that I will have to do more research before I present my impressions. When I saw this discussion about the tech trait, I read the definition on page 9, but did read past the New Equipment section. That section treated tech solely as a weapon trait. The only non-weapon equipment mentioned is the credstick.

Treating tech as a creature trait began in the Creatures section on page 11, where the Computer Glitch Gremlin is a creature with the tech trait, it has two abilities that mention creatures with the tech trait, and the definition of Glitching in a sidebar mentions creatures with the tech trait.

The person who wrote the definition of tech trait and the person who wrote the definition of glitching had a slight misalignment of definitions. That happens way too often in the early stages of development.

Starfinder Field Test #1, Creatures, Sidebar on page 11 wrote:

NEW CONDITION: GLITCHING

Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value. A glitching creature or object experiences a combination of debilitating effects and moments of seizing up. If you have glitching equipment and take any action involving that equipment, you must attempt a DC 10 flat check to see what occurs. If you have the glitching condition on yourself, you must make this flat check at the beginning of every round.
Critical Success Reduce the glitching value by 1.
Success You act as normal or use your equipment as normal.
Failure You take an item penalty on all your checks and DCs equal to your glitching value or the glitching value on the item you’re attempting to use.
Critical Failure You count as stunned 1 for the round. Alternatively, the object you tried to use doesn’t function, and you lose the actions you took to attempt to use it.

The glitch definition is split into two interleaved parts. Some instructions cover if the glitch is on your equipment and other phrases cover if the glitch is on you yourself. Only the critical success, which affect the glitch value rather than the glitched creature or equipment, has a single instruction. And maybe the critical failure, "You count as stunned 1 for the round," applies to having a critical failure on using glitched equipment, but I hope not. By the remastered clarification of stunned 1, you would be unable to act until the beginning of your next turn.

Using the same condition or trait on both equipment and creatures makes the rules harder to read. Equipment and creatures have different roles in the game, so they end up with different effects.

Also, I think the glitch condition has a significant design flaw. A critical success happens on a flat DC 10 check only on a natural 20. That means an average of 20 checks in order to remove Glitching 1. Since a combat encounter lasts only about 4 rounds, the character would have to roll an average of 16 times during post-combat exploration mode to remove the condition. It could be faster on equipment, since you can use an action with the equipment up to 3 times per turn, but that might burn through a lot of charges. I suspect most tables will houserule that a glitch simply wears off after a minute.

Furthermore, tech armor is not properly covered by these effects, because it is not used through an action. Maybe armor is immune to glitches, because the Computer Glitch Gremlin's Glitch Aura affects only "Creatures with the tech trait, unattended items with the tech trait, or creatures holding equipment with the tech trait," and does not mention worn tech items.

For comparison, let me separate the equipment and the creature in the description of glitching. I also corrected the 20-check problem.

GLITCHING
Glitching is a condition that affects objects or creatures with the tech trait, and it always includes a value. A glitching creature or object experiences a combination of debilitating effects and moments of seizing up. The value of the glitching reduces by 1 after each minute, and the glitching ends when the value is 0.

If you are glitching as a tech creature, make a DC 10 flat check at the beginning of your turn.
Success You have no glitching penalty until your next turn.
Failure You take an item penalty on all your checks and DCs equal to your glitching value until your next turn.
Critical Failure Same as failure and you lose one action.

If you use glitching equipment, the first time each turn or between turns that you would Strike with it, activate it, or benefit from its item bonus, you must attempt a DC 10 flat check.
Success The equipment works normally until your next turn.
Failure Until your next turn all checks involving that equipment take an item penalty on all your checks and DCs equal to the equipment's glitching value.
Critical Failure The equipment does not function until your next turn.


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Calgon-3 wrote:

Androids are Constructed but are as much living as machine. The rules specify them as needing to eat and sleep and having biological components. They're described as constructed (mostly) of nanites, so it can be inferred that these nanites are a kind of synthetic life born of biotechnology (and technomancy?) as much as or more than computer technology. Unlike SRO's that are constructed wholly or mostly of metal, glass, silicon, advanced AI software, and UPB's I suppose.

that's referring to the SF1E description though. They have been re-described, more vaguely, in PF2E rules, and have lost some things. For example in PF2E they need to breathe but in SF1E they don't.

This is true for pathfinder 2E, but these are different androids than in PF2E, they are straight up technological. It is an unfortunate flavor conceit in PF2E to make things less divergent and thus easier to balance. I'm saying I want SF2E to take more risks and not make androids... not androids.


Skabb wrote:
Calgon-3 wrote:

Androids are Constructed but are as much living as machine. The rules specify them as needing to eat and sleep and having biological components. They're described as constructed (mostly) of nanites, so it can be inferred that these nanites are a kind of synthetic life born of biotechnology (and technomancy?) as much as or more than computer technology. Unlike SRO's that are constructed wholly or mostly of metal, glass, silicon, advanced AI software, and UPB's I suppose.

that's referring to the SF1E description though. They have been re-described, more vaguely, in PF2E rules, and have lost some things. For example in PF2E they need to breathe but in SF1E they don't.

This is true for pathfinder 2E, but these are different androids than in PF2E, they are straight up technological. It is an unfortunate flavor conceit in PF2E to make things less divergent and thus easier to balance. I'm saying I want SF2E to take more risks and not make androids... not androids.

I'm suspecting a difference in purpose of these two talking points.

Calgon-3 is speaking to what the SF2 Playtest Android does and doesn't have. Specifically that they don't have the Tech trait and have game mechanics closer to the PF2 Android than they do to the SF1 Android.

Skaab is speaking to what they want the SF2 full release Android to eventually have. Which is apparently to have the Tech trait in order to distinguish them from the PF2 Android ancestry.


Given Skabb's and Finoan's point about us using androids from different Paizo systems as our reference, I decided to compare the four android versions we have seen in Pathfinder 1st Edition, Starfinder, Pathfinder 2nd Edition, and the Starfinder Field Test #3.

BASIC STATISTICS (Compared to humans to establish baseline)
PF1 No racial hit dice (just like humans), Speed 30 feet (same as humans), +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Starfinder Hit Points 4 (same as humans), Speed 30 feet (same as humans), +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
PF2 Hit Points 8 (same as humans), Speed 25 feet (same as humans), +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence. +2 Free, -2 Charisma
Field Test Hit Points 8, Speed 25 feet, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence. +2 Free, -2 Charisma

VISION
PF1 Darkvision to a range of 60 feet and low-light vision. +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.
Starfinder Darkvision with a range of 60 feet and low-light vision
PF2 Low-light vision with Darkvision available as ancestry feat 1.
Field Test Low-light vision with Darkvision available as ancestry feat 1.

CONSTRUCTED
PF1 Androids count both as humanoids and as constructs. Androids gain a +4 racial bonus on all saving throws against mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, and stun effects. They are not subject to fatigue or exhaustion, and are immune to disease and sleep effects.
Starfinder Androids count as both constructs and humanoids. They receive a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against disease, mind-affecting effects, poison, and sleep, unless those effects specifically target constructs. In addition, androids do not breathe or suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum.
PF2 +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases, poisons, and radiation.
Field Test +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases, poisons, and radiation.

EMOTIONLESS
PF1 Androids can never gain morale bonuses and are immune to fear effects and emotion effects. -4 penalty on Sense Motive checks. EMPATHY feat grants, "You lose the emotionless special quality. You can gain morale bonuses, and can be affected by emotion-based effects and fear effects. You lack the +4 racial bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects."
Starfinder -2 penalty to Sense Motive checks, but the DCs of Sense Motive checks attempted against them increase by 2.
PF2 -1 circumstance penalty to Diplomacy and Performance checks, and on Perception checks to Sense Motive. EMOTIONLESS ancestry feat grants, "+1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against emotion and fear effects. If you roll a success on a saving throw against an emotion or fear effect, you get a critical success instead."
Field Test -1 circumstance penalty to Diplomacy and Performance checks, and to Perception checks to Sense Motive. EMOTIONLESS ancestry feat grants, " +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against emotion and fear effects. If you roll a success on a saving throw against an emotion or fear effect, you get a critical success instead."

NANITE SURGE
PF1 Once per day as an immediate action, an android can cause her nanites to surge, granting her a bonus equal to 3 + the android’s character level on any one d20 roll; this ability must be activated before the roll is made. When an android uses this power, her circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch for 1 round.
Starfinder None
PF2 Nanite Surge is an ancestry feat 1, "Reaction Frequency once per hour Trigger You attempt a skill check requiring three actions or fewer.
You gain a +2 status bonus to the triggering skill check. In addition, your circuitry glows, lighting a 10-foot emanation with dim light for 1 round."
Field Test Same as PF2.

NANITE REPAIR
PF1 Available as an alternative racial trait replacing Nanite Surge, "The first time each day that such an android has taken an amount of damage greater than or equal to twice her Hit Dice, the nanites automatically activate, without an action. Her circuitry-tattoos glow with light equivalent to that of a torch for 1 round and she heals a number of hit points equal to twice her Hit Dice."
Starfinder Nanite Integeration feat offers Repairing Nanites, "Repairing Nanites: Whenever you take Hit Point damage, you can spend 1 Resolve Point as a reaction to gain fast healing equal to one-quarter your character level (minimum fast healing 1) for 1 minute."
PF2 Available as Repair Module ancestry feat 9, "Action Frequency once per day
You gain fast healing equal to half your level for 1 minute. While Repair Module is active, you can't use other abilities that require the use of your nanites." Cleansing Subroutine ancestry feat 1 is available sooner, but protects only against poison.
Field Test Same as PF2.

LONGEVITY and RENEWAL
PF1 What separates androids from golems and other mindless constructs is that androids are living beings and as such possess souls. Similarly, androids don’t live forever, though barring violence or tragedy their bodies never deteriorate. Rather, an android’s cybernetic mind eventually shuts down and self-restarts after about a century, leaving its body vacant for several weeks as the old soul departs for its final reward in the Great Beyond and a fresh, new soul finds its way into the shell.
Starfinder Though android bodies are assembled using tiny machines called nanites, their complex nervous systems attract and integrate souls in the same way organic creatures do. Most androids are fully grown at the time of their birth, and can technically live forever through constant repair, though most androids voluntarily release their bodies after a century or so to allow new souls to inhabit them—a process called renewal that’s viewed more as procreation than suicide.
PF2 Androids don't grow old. Instead, their organic appearance becomes less convincing over time, causing them to look more artificial. After a century, most androids feel their time coming to an end and willingly release their souls to the Boneyard to face Pharasma's judgment. Their bodies then shut down, entering a lifeless hibernation as their nanites begin restoration protocol and reset their synthetic bodies to their original manufactured state. After a few weeks, a new soul enters the android's form, triggering reinitialization. This process, called Renewal, is an event to be celebrated, akin to bearing a child. Those that die by violence can't Renew, so androids go to great lengths to protect themselves and their brethren from harm.
Field Test Androids are considered mature from the day they emerge from their creation foundry. Most androids voluntarily release their bodies after a century or so, allowing new souls to inhabit them in a process called renewal. Androids with versatile heritages are often the results of experimentation or planar catastrophe, or they were born in a specialized foundry that produces unique variants of their kind.

HERITAGE CHOICES
PF1 Alternative Racial Traits offers either Nanite Surge or Repairing Nanites
Starfinder Alternate Ability Adjustments offers Companion, or Laborer alternatives for attribute scores. Alternate Racial Traits offers Easily Augmented, Impersonation Matrix, Infosphere Integration, Multilingual, Nanite Upgrade, and Xenometric Android in exchange for other features.
PF2 Heritages offers Artisan Android, Impersonator Android, Laborer Android, Polyglot Android, and Warrior Android.
Field Test Ancient Android (Artisan, Laborer, Polyglot, Warrior), Artificial Scion, Mod Fanatic, Networked, Renewed Android.

Most of the changes are changes in the overall systems, such as switching from Alternative Racial Traits to Heritages instead. But I see a trend to make the androids less like constructs with the built-in immunities and more like humans.

Giving androids the Tech trait would be a step away from humans and restore some construct similarity. However, I asked my wife about this and she asked, "What is in it for the android?" Tech trait at this time is purely a disadvantage. Greater flavor for android ancestry is not worth making androids weaker. (And I already explained that adding both a disadvantage and an equal advantage does not cancel out. It instead gives two special features that complicate balance.)


After writing the last paragraph above that we cannot balance the disadvantage of tech with a separate advantage, I wondered what if the advantage and disadvantage were not separate? I needed a few attempts to make that idea work, but right now my idea is that instead of making the entire android a tech creature, we could gave it a single tech ability. Then that ability glitching or breaking would rob the android of that single ability rather inflicting a disadvantage on android themself.

This, I find a third category for the tech trait, not just equipment and creatures, but also individual abilities, in this case a focus pool.

The Nanite Surge is a classic PF1 android feature that PF2 moved to an ancestry feat. So let me weaken it, add the tech trait, and restore it as a feature. I see a complication that Nanite Surge is also a Nanocyte class feature, so I needed to consider their interaction. I chose the easy way by swapping out the android Naite Surge to avoid an interaction. Finally, PF2 often converted PF1 limited-times-per-day magic to focus spells. Paizo did not do that to PF2 Nanite Surge, probably because it is not magic, but I would prefer Nanite Surge as a non-spell focus ability that consumes a focus point to activate. Starfinder 2nd Edition would benefit from a non-spell focus-pool mechanic. And the pool makes a good weak point for a glitch.

NANITE FOCUS Android ancestral feature
Your internal nanites will assist you in specific endeavors. Select a skill in which you are trained. You gain a focus pool that has the tech-equipment trait and gain the Nanite Surge ability, except that you can use this Nanite Surge only for the chosen skill.
If you have Nanocytle class or Nanocyte Multiclass Archetype, which themselves grant a focus pool and Nanite Surge, you instead gain a 1st-level android ancestry feat of your choice that requires Nanite Focus.
Whenever you use Nanite Surge, your circuitry glows, lighting a 10-foot emanation with dim light for 1 round.

Tech-Equipment trait - An ability with the Tech-Equipment trait is treated as equipment with the tech trait and with level equal to your level. It can glitch and break, but it has no hit points and cannot be removed, released, or destroyed. A Repair activity can repair it if it is broken.

NANITE SURGE [Reaction] Non-spell Focus Effect 1
Trigger You attempt a skill check requiring three actions or fewer.
Your body contains microscopic nanites that aid your body in many functions. You gain a +2 status bonus to the triggering skill check.

Or maybe the tech-equipment focus pool can be totally separate from magical focus pools. We could call it a gizmo pool with gizmo points in it to power technological abilities that cost gizmo points. All gizmo pools would have the tech trait. Androids could be an ancestry with a built-in gizmo pool of nanotechnology, but most gizmo pools would be class features.


Yeah they're definitely hewing closer to the PF2E Android. But what would the glitching condition mean for an Android? It seems like too severe a handicap to put on Androids given how they've already toned down most of the advantages that Androids have.


Calgon-3 wrote:
Yeah they're definitely hewing closer to the PF2E Android. But what would the glitching condition mean for an Android? It seems like too severe a handicap to put on Androids given how they've already toned down most of the advantages that Androids have.

I tried to clarify the glitch rules from the Starfinder Field Test #1 in my Thursday comment, but let me run through a scenario.

Imagine that a female android PC has the tech trait and a computer glitch gremlin approaches her. The android begins her turn in the gremlin's Glitch Aura and must make a DC 16 Will save. She rolls low, so both she and her laser pistol gain glitching 1.

The time is still the beginning of her turn, so she has to roll a DC 10 flat check for the glitching. She rolls a natural 11, so she acts normally this turn. She makes an Interact action to draw her laser pistol and that counts as an action involving the pistol, so she makes the DC 10 flat check for the pistol. She rolls a natural 8, so she has a -1 item penalty on the Interact action. Fortunately, Interact actions don't require a check, so that penalty does not matter. The she attempts a Strike action to shoot the gremlin with the pistol. She makes the DC 10 flat check again and rolls a natural 1. The pistol does not function, the Strike does not happen, but that still uses up her 2nd action. She tries the Strike again. She rolls a natural 12, so the pistol functions normally and she makes the Strike. This Strike does not have a multiple attack penalty, because technically it is her first Strike of the turn.

Between turns, the gremlin has moved away from her, so she no longer has to roll for the Glitch Aura. Nevertheless, the glitching 1 remains on her and her pistol.

On her next turn, she makes the DC 10 flat check for herself again, and she rolls a 7 for a -1 item penalty on her actions. Her AC temporarily drops by 1. She makes a Strike against the gremlin again and rolls the glitching DC 10 flat check. It is another 7, so the Strike has a -1 item penalty to the Strike. This does not stack with the android's -1 item penalty to the Strike, so she simply makes the Strike with a -1 penalty. She then Strikes again, this time rolling a 13. The pistol acts normally, but her own -1 penalty is still in effect, so the Strike has a -1 item penalty and a -5 multiple attack penalty. She does not see the point in a 3rd Strike with -11 in penalties, so she Strides instead. That requires no glitching check.

On her third turn, she rolls a natural 1 on her glitching DC 10 flat check. She is Stunned 1. Fortunately, it is the beginning of her turn, so when she gains her actions that turn, she is no longer stunned but gains only 2 actions that turn. And the Critical Failure does not mention an item penalty, so she has no item penalty this turn. She makes a Strike with her pistol, rolls a 6 on the pistol's glitching flat check for a -1 item penalty, so makes the Strike with that penalty. She makes a second Strike and rolls a natural 20 on the flat check. The pistol is no longer glitching.

A teammate kill the gremlin between her turns.

On her fourth turn--wait, why didn't we drop back to exploration or downtime mode? Because the android is still glitching 1. In order to stop glitching, she has to roll a natural 20 on the DC 10 flat check, so she needs to keep having turns. Sometimes she rolls 10 to 19 for acting normally, sometimes she rolls 2-9 for a -1 item penalty, but neither matter because she is simply waiting and rolling for the glitch to wear off. On the eleventh turn, she finally rolls a natural 20 and stops glitching.

The handicap with glitching 1 is minor. 45% of the time the android as a -1 item penalty and a lower AC and saves. 45% of the time she acts normally. On an unlucky natural 1 she loses an action. On a lucky natural 20, she stops glitching. A -1 to AC usually means 14% more damage, but since that is active only 45% of the turns, glitching 1 means taking 6% more damage on average.

Glitching 2 is twice as bad since the item penalty to checks and AC is a -2. And the natural 20 drops it to glitching 1 instead of ending the glitching.

The true annoyance with a PC glitching is that the player has to make a DC 10 flat check every turn. That is time consuming. And the flat checks continue beyond the encounter, taking an average of 20 turns, which is 2 minutes, to remove glitching 1.

The tech trait could also mean that the android could get broken, but we don't know what broken does to a creature.


Mathmuse wrote:
Starfinder 2nd Edition would benefit from a non-spell focus-pool mechanic. And the pool makes a good weak point for a glitch.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition would benefit from a non-spell focus-pool mechanic (looking at you Wild Winds Stance). But that is a request for a different forum.

Wayfinders

I can see the Android going either way, but seems like the goal is to make it like the PF2e version. A bigger question is will any ancestries have the trait, such as the SRO? The other reason I can see the Android going either way is that it's biomechanical.


Driftbourne wrote:
I can see the Android going either way, but seems like the goal is to make it like the PF2e version. A bigger question is will any ancestries have the trait, such as the SRO? The other reason I can see the Android going either way is that it's biomechanical.

An android is defined in Wikipedia as, "a humanoid robot or other artificial being often made from a flesh-like material." They do not have to be biological; instead, their key feature is being an artificial person who could blend into human society. In contrast, a non-android robot would require an open-minded egalitarian change in human society to achieve equal status.

As far as I know, androids were introduced to Pathfinder/Starfinder in June 2014 via Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars and in August 2014 via the Iron Gods adventure path set in Numeria. Starfinder came out three years later in August 2017. The Numerian androids had to be biological to distinguish them from the robots in the same setting and so that they blend into local villages and eat their food. The campaign setting book offers the Android Imposter CR 5, outfitted like a barbarian but with Constructed, Emotionless, and Nanite Surge abilities, "This android has managed to infiltrate a Kellid tribe, and impersonates a barbarian." The module Fires of Creation features Meyanda, an android cleric 5/ranger 1 with the same Constructed, Emotionless, and Nanite Surge abilities. Thus, Numerian androids are biological with built-in nanite technology. And the only androids in PF2 are the Numerian type.

Starfinder added, "In addition, androids do not breathe or suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum," to their Constructed features, so those androids are not necessary biological. Nevertheless, Starfinder Field Test #3 appears to have copied the PF2 Numerian android as its baseline and offers heritages to vary from that baseline. Yet even the extreme Artificial Scion heritage, "Your body wasn’t created in the image of a biological creature; a powerful artificial intelligence created you to interface with other machines," is as biological as the other androids.

In PF2, Constructed is watered down to a mere +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases, poisons, and radiation in the PF2 android. This is probably due to the tight math of PF2, where the ability to survive combat and hazards is balanced equally across ancestries. A +4 bonus and immunity to fatigue and disease like in the PF1 android or a +2 bonus and surviving without breathing like in the Starfinder android are too strong for balance. Nanite Surge is moved to an optional ancestry feat. Emotionless was weakened in Starfinder already, but PF2 moves half of Emotionless to an ancestry feat, too. The PF2 and Field Test android have very little making them feel like an artificial, constructed being.

I think that that is the point of this thread. We want strong signs that androids are artificial, because that is the distinguishing characteristic of an android. Those signs can be hidden under their biological body, since Pathfinder began with Android Impostors who pretended to be human, but those hidden signs ought to show up under combat or emergencies or insightful perception so that the players can identify NPC androids.

A +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against diseases, poisons, and radiation is not a strong sign. In contrast, the tech trait causing an android to glitch under weird circumstances would be a strong sign.

Unfortunately, tech trait could be a significant weakness in combat, so it would ruin balance as much as immunities would. Paizo could design tech trait so that it is not significant in combat, but that would undermine the purpose of the trait. And the same argument works against giving SROs the tech trait.

I myself see the gizmo pool that I invented Saturday as a workable compromise.


Finoan wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Starfinder 2nd Edition would benefit from a non-spell focus-pool mechanic. And the pool makes a good weak point for a glitch.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition would benefit from a non-spell focus-pool mechanic (looking at you Wild Winds Stance). But that is a request for a different forum.

Yes, using the focus spells to represent the monk's ki abilities is a disconnect from the folklore. Ki is supposed to be an inner life energy that the monk can manipulate through body awareness. Treating ki effects as spells breaks away from the source material.

Nonetheless, a focus pool that is build for repeatable spellcasting and reskinned for other repeatable efforts works well in PF2. It replaced the three-times-per-day bookkeeping of many separate abilities with a single pool that tracks smoothly and fits the PF2 ten-minute-rest paradigm. The monk borrows the mechanic to keep the rules and gameplay simple at the cost of flavor.

I want to do the same disservice to Starfinder 2nd Edition, bwahaha. I don't see spellcasting as being prevalent enough in SF2 to justify spellcasting focus pools. Instead, I think switching to gizmo pools that are technological rather than magical makes more sense. And that might force SF2 magical classes, such as Mystic, to use a technological gizmo pool rather than a spellcasting focus pool. I don't see SF2 having both focus pools and gizmo pools.

And yes, I decided to go for gizmo pools rather than my earlier idea of labeling some focus pools as technological.

Let me write out gizmo pool rules formally, basing them on the Remastered PF1 Player Core's focus pools.

Gizmo Pools
You might have an inner resource for technological effects. This resource could be nanotechnology, cosmic energies, mystic connections, built-in devices, or a combination of those. An inner technological resource that replenishes itself over time is called a gizmo pool. A gizmo pool can contain up to a maximum of 4 gizmo points, but most gizmo-using characters start with a pool that can hold only a single gizmo point. Though a gizmo pool is a character ability, it also is integrated technological equipment that can be targeted, glitched, or broken, but has no hit points and cannot be removed or destroyed.

Gizmo abilities are actions that require spending a gizmo point in addition to the action cost. You cannot activate gizmo abilities when your gizmo pool is empty.

Gizmo abilities are obtained via class feature or feats and ancestry features and feats. Some gizmo abilities gain more features as the character levels up. You automatically gain a gizmo pool the first time you gain gizmo ability. The maximum number of points in your pool is equal to the number of gizmo ability you have or 4, whichever is lower.

You replenish all the gizmo points in your pool during your daily preparations. You can also use the Replenish activity to restore gizmo points at other times, by performing activities determined by the source of your gizmo abilities.

REPLENISH
CONCENTRATE, EXPLORATION
Requirements You have a gizmo pool.
You spend 10 minutes performing deeds to restore your technological assets. This restores 1 gizmo point to your gizmo pool. The deeds you need to perform are specified in the class, ancestry, or ability
that gives you your gizmo abilities. These deeds can usually overlap with other tasks that relate to the class or ancestry; for example, the gizmo pool from android ancestry can Replenish during a 10-minute rest or meal, and the gizmo pool from Vanguard class can Replenish while repairing other equipment.

Gizmos Points from Multiple Sources
It’s possible through a combination of ancestries, classes, or archetypes, to gain gizmo abilities from more than one source. If this happens, you have just one gizmo pool, counting all your gizmo abilities to determine the points in your pool. You can spend any of your gizmo points on any of your gizmo abilities. Likewise, when you Replenish, you get back a point as long as you follow the guidelines of any of your gizmo abilities.

Let me use the Vanguard class as an example. That class has an Entropic Pool that I will convert to a Gizmo Pool. The Entropic Pool replenishes when the Vanguard deals damage or receives significant damage. So the Gizmo Vanguard would have:

Entropic Strikes
You gain a melee unarmed attack called entropy. This attack deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage; is in the brawling group; does not require an empty hand; and has the agile, finesse, entropic, magical, operative, and unarmed traits. You can use your Constitution modifier instead of your Strength modifier when calculating damage from an entropy Strike.

Entropic Surge [Reaction] Gizmo
Trigger You have a success or critical success on a entropy Strike and have not yet dealt damage.
Your entropy Strike deals an additional 1d6 damage of acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic type. At 8th level, this grows to 2d6. This damage is doubled on a critical hit. You immediately identify all the tech items, including a gizmo pool, used by the target and may select one to become glitching 1.

Gizmo Pool
You Replenish your gizmo pool by activities that deal with entropy, such as target practice or repairing or healing. Also, whenever you deal damage on a critical hit to an enemy or receive damage from a critical hit by an enemy, you may begin a one-minute Replenish activity, even if your gizmo pool is full. This one-minute Replenish does not require specific activities and does not interfere with your other actions.

Entropic Rush [One Action] Gizmo Feat 1
Vanguard
(I copied Ki Rush)
Accelerated by your entropic field, you move with such speed you become a blur. Move two times with two Steps, two Strides, two of another movement type for which you have a Speed, or a combination of any two. You gain the concealed condition during this movement and until the start of your next turn.

The gizmo pool will give several classes and two ancestries (android and SRO) built-in technological equipment so that they will be personally vulnerable to glitching. I don't think that we need to let the tech trait apply to creatures in that case.

That would mean removing the tech trait from the Computer Glitch Gremlin and giving it a gizmo pool instead to keep it vulnerable to tech disruption. This violates PF2 monster design, because the monster restoring a resource outside of combat gives it a life outside of encounters with the PCs. But a gremlin is an elusive creature, so maybe it will escape, replenish, and return. And it will have more gizmo points than gizmo abilities, because creatures have fewer abilities than player characters.

The gizmo-pool Computer Glitch Gremlin would lose its Glitch Aura, add "and immediately identify all tech items, including gizmo pools, within 30 feet," to Digital Telepathy, and instead gain the following abilities.

Gizmo Pool
The Computer Glitch Gremlin has a gizmo pool with 3 gizmo points. It Replenishes by using its Digital Telepathy ability.

Glitch Stare (primal) [One Action] Gizmo
A tech item within 20 feet of the Computer Glitch Gremlin gains glitching 1. If a character attends the item, that character must succeed at a DC 16 Will save to prevent the glitching. If the Computer Glitch Gremlin began with two gizmo points in its gizmo pool, it may target an additional tech item within 20 feet, and if it began with three gizmo points, it may target two more tech items within 20 feet.

Glitch Bite (primal) [One Action] Gizmo
The Computer Glitch Gremlin bites an adjacent tech item to give the item glitching 2. If a character attends the item, that character must succeed at a DC 16 Will save to reduce that to glitching 1 and a critical success prevents glitching. The Computer Glitch Gremlin heals itself 6 hit points upon giving a glitching 2 and 3 hit points upon giving a glitching 1.


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Mathmuse wrote:

Yes, using the focus spells to represent the monk's ki abilities is a disconnect from the folklore.

Nonetheless, a focus pool that is build for repeatable spellcasting and reskinned for other repeatable efforts works well in PF2. It replaced the three-times-per-day bookkeeping of many separate abilities with a single pool that tracks smoothly and fits the PF2 ten-minute-rest paradigm. The monk borrows the mechanic to keep the rules and gameplay simple at the cost of flavor.

My point is that both PF2 and SF2 should be using a more generic concept of focus abilities rather than focus spells specifically.

Yes, when Monk originally released - in the CRB with the launch of Pathfinder2e to begin with - focus spells were all that was available. It works well enough for Ki Blast and Ki Rush. But it doesn't quite have the right flavor and makes Wild Winds stance a bit of an outlier.

Hopefully with the trend of generalizing some of these mechanics (such as Sustain a Spell being change to just Sustain), focus abilities that are not spells will be introduced into both systems.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

You guys have a much narrower understanding of what a 'spell' is or what constitutes 'magic' than I do.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
You guys have a much narrower understanding of what a 'spell' is or what constitutes 'magic' than I do.

Well, I guess so. Sort-of.

Those are defined game terms though (Spell and Magical). In a game that makes a distinction between a Wizard's 'spell' and a Kineticist's 'Impulse'. So if focus points are only usable on 'focus spells' - that is going to have game mechanics weight to the rules and interpretations made at the game table.

In narrative terms I am fine with magical things not being called spells. Or even magic. But the game rules need to agree with that.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
You guys have a much narrower understanding of what a 'spell' is or what constitutes 'magic' than I do.

I have a narrow view of "spell," because the PF2 rules have a narrow mechanic for spells. PF2 does not even have "spell-like abilities." The Cast a Spell activity has components: Material, Somatic, Verbal, and/or Focus. The number of components in a one-action, two-actio, or three-action spellcasting is the number of actions, even if this means doubling up on a single type of component. The proficiency for the caster's checks in the spell, such as a spell attack roll, is their proficiency in that spell tradition (changed for the Remaster. Now it is proficiency in spellcasting). This led to special rules for non-spellcasters with focus spells.

Non-Spellcasters with Focus Spells, Core Rulebook, page 302 wrote:

Non-Spellcasters with Focus Spells

If you get focus spells from a class or other source that doesn’t grant spellcasting ability (for example, if you’re a monk with the Ki Strike feat), the ability that gives you focus spells also provides your proficiency rank for spell attack rolls and spell DCs, as well as the magical tradition of your focus spells. You gain the ability to Cast a Spell and use any spellcasting actions necessary to cast your focus spells (see below). However, you don’t qualify for feats and other rules that require you to be a spellcaster.

Then there is roleplaying the mechanic. The monk in my PF2 campaign preferred stances to ki spells, so I don't have experience with that, but the rogue with Sorcerer Multiclass Dedication gained Dragon Claws. Morphing to the claws is set up as a verbal-component one-action focus spell. The rogue's player, my wife, says that she does not visualize her rogue calling out a magic word, such as "clāwan!" Instead, she sees the rogue flexing his fingers as claws grown and flames ignite due to his draconic blood.

I have a wider view of magic. I am willing to view a Vanguard's entropy pool as magic tied to a basic principle of thermodynamics. I am willing to view a solarian's stellar power as magic or a magical connection to a star. I am willing to view a Precog's paradox rolls as prophetic magic. They are phrased more as psychic or mystic powers because of the science fiction in Starfinder, but they act like magic.


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To see how this affects class design, we mentioned Monk earlier with the focus 'spells' that it does have. Even though Monk is not actually a spellcaster.

There is also the Inventor class that they didn't want to use 'spells' at all because the Inventor class definitely doesn't want to be dabbling in 'spells' or 'magic'. So instead of using focus abilities, they had to create a new mechanic for their limited use per encounter abilities. Unstable. So instead of being able to use focus points to power certain class abilities, those abilities are marked as Unstable and you have to make a flat check to see if you can use another one during that fight or not.

Which works well enough, I guess.

But do we really want to limit Operative, Envoy, Nanocyte, or Mechanic in that regard - that because they don't use 'spells', then those classes can't interact with the standard focus point mechanics and are required to have their own unique mechanics instead?


Finoan wrote:

Those are defined game terms though (Spell and Magical). In a game that makes a distinction between a Wizard's 'spell' and a Kineticist's 'Impulse'. So if focus points are only usable on 'focus spells' - that is going to have game mechanics weight to the rules and interpretations made at the game table.

In narrative terms I am fine with magical things not being called spells. Or even magic. But the game rules need to agree with that.

Impulses are explicitly magical but not spells. So are many barbarian abilities, a number of the class features of spellcasting classes, a decent number of ancestry abilities, and quite a lot of powers belonging to various monsters. I'd hope that you're okay with magical things not being called spells.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Impulses are explicitly magical but not spells. So are many barbarian abilities, a number of the class features of spellcasting classes, a decent number of ancestry abilities, and quite a lot of powers belonging to various monsters. I'd hope that you're okay with magical things not being called spells.

Yes.

But how about the ones that aren't spells?

I'm not sure if you are missing the point I am making, or are just saying something on a tangent.

My point is that Focus Points and the Focus trait both reference "spells" specifically.

So you couldn't have a Kineticist Focus Impulse. Or a Barbarian focus ability that is not magical at all. Or a non-magical Operative focus ability. Or Nanocyte focus ability.

Only focus 'spells'. Because that is all that focus points are defined for. So everything powered by focus points has to be a spell... and therefore also be magical.

My point is that the game developers have painted themselves into a corner. There is this really cool and robust focus point mechanic that certain types of classes can't interact with because of the narrative flavor of their abilities. I think the developers should change the definition of focus points to include more things than just spells.


Finoan wrote:
My point is that the game developers have painted themselves into a corner. There is this really cool and robust focus point mechanic that certain types of classes can't interact with because of the narrative flavor of their abilities. I think the developers should change the definition of focus points to include more things than just spells.

They painted themselves into a corner in Pathfinder 2nd Edition. Starfinder 2nd Edition has not been written yet, so it still has opportunity to break those assumptions.

And focus points could have more flexibility in PF2, too, if the Paizo developers don't mind leaving a few footprints on the paint that have to be repainted.

Back to androids. How would they benefit from a non-spell focus pool, which I reskinned as a gizmo pool?

Pathfinder 2nd Edition's species are pretty similar to reach other. Compare elves and androids in PF2. Same size, same Dexterity and Intelligence attribute boosts, and same Low-Light Vision. Elves have 6 hit points, Speed 30 feet, and a Constitution flaw. Androids have 8 hit points, Speed 25 feet, a Charisma flaw, Constructed (+1 bonus against poison, disease, and radiation), and Emotionally Unaware (-1 penalty to Diplomacy, Performance, and Sense Motive). And they have different heritages and ancestry feats, but since those are selected, not all elves or androids have any one of them.

In conclusion, androids are tougher and less pleasant Space Elves.

We want androids to have some sign that they are artificial. A nice built-in technological ability would be sufficient, and by nice I mean more noticeable than a +1 bonus against some uncommon hazards. A technological ability that can be activated, such as the PF1 once-per-day Nanite Surge, would be fantastic, a better marker than any immunity.

PF1 once-per-day abilities were redesigned to be focus spells in PF2. The focus-spell design offers less bookkeeping and more tactical fun. But that won't work for androids, because a built-in spell is not built-in technology. The PF2 android instead designed its Nanite Surge ancestry feat under the older paradigm, once per hour. That was a step backwards just because "spell" had the wrong flavor.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

That's not even really what I mean though, when we're talking about something like "ki is life force you can manipulate with body awareness" what makes that life force (which you can do things with you could never do IRL, even in the worldview of someone who believes in ki IRL) not a form of magic, and what makes the technique you use to manipulate that magic not a spell? Is it because spells are being interpreted as this specific thing with incantations and such?

Because my understanding is that while the word spell is a game mechanic term, it's much wider in terms of flavor and that the difference between an impulse and a spell is actually more mechanical than it is loreful, or at least owed to the sense that impulses represent something more fungible than a spell.

In fact, Jiang-shi explicitly drain Qi, but reference that as being life which is of course one of the essences that are combined to get us our magic traditions, meaning that life manipulation magic is manipulating qi-- which is also borne out by certain relevant monk feats. It's also referenced in editor's notes on the magical essences in Secrets of Magic.

Edit: also, an android's targeting system is True Strike


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Because my understanding is that while the word spell is a game mechanic term, it's much wider in terms of flavor and that the difference between an impulse and a spell is actually more mechanical than it is loreful, or at least owed to the sense that impulses represent something more fungible than a spell.

Right. And I am wanting to widen the mechanics of Focus Points to match that.

I want Qi abilities that are governed by Focus points. I want Nanocyte abilities that are governed by Focus points. I want non-magical, non-mystical Operative abilities that are governed by Focus points.

But that isn't currently possible because of the arbitrary game mechanics limitations that Focus points can only power Focus Spells - not other abilities no matter how similar or dis-similar they are to magical incantations.

I'm not trying to say that all magic should be spells. I'm trying to say that Focus points should power more than just game-mechanics 'spells'.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Finoan wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Because my understanding is that while the word spell is a game mechanic term, it's much wider in terms of flavor and that the difference between an impulse and a spell is actually more mechanical than it is loreful, or at least owed to the sense that impulses represent something more fungible than a spell.

Right. And I am wanting to widen the mechanics of Focus Points to match that.

I want Qi abilities that are governed by Focus points. I want Nanocyte abilities that are governed by Focus points. I want non-magical, non-mystical Operative abilities that are governed by Focus points.

But that isn't currently possible because of the arbitrary game mechanics limitations that Focus points can only power Focus Spells - not other abilities no matter how similar or dis-similar they are to magical incantations.

I'm not trying to say that all magic should be spells. I'm trying to say that Focus points should power more than just game-mechanics 'spells'.

Sure, but if tomorrow Paizo debuted an Operative focus spell that does whatever, in what way would it matter? Pathfinder and Starfinder characters are already inherently magical via their clearly superhuman abilities, and it seems like a significant portion of tech is actually 'just' magitech-- including the advanced targeting systems on androids which aren't focus related, but nevertheless distill to an actual casting of true strike.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Sure, but if tomorrow Paizo debuted an Operative focus spell that does whatever, in what way would it matter?

The matter is that this hypothetical Operative Focus spell would have to be a spell in a mechanical sense.

It would have to use the Cast a Spell activity in order to use - so it would do things like provoke reactions or invoke taboos against magic or spells. It would be inherently magical in a mechanical context.

In short - while it might be flavored and described as non-magical, it would still interact with things that interact with magic.

Much like the existing hack/workaround of the Monk Focus spell Wild Winds Stance which can't be used inside an area of Antimagic Field. Because entering the stance is a magical effect, but firing off Wild Winds Crash is a non-magical Unarmed Strike.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Finoan wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Sure, but if tomorrow Paizo debuted an Operative focus spell that does whatever, in what way would it matter?

The matter is that this hypothetical Operative Focus spell would have to be a spell in a mechanical sense.

It would have to use the Cast a Spell activity in order to use - so it would do things like provoke reactions or invoke taboos against magic or spells. It would be inherently magical in a mechanical context.

In short - while it might be flavored and described as non-magical, it would still interact with things that interact with magic.

Much like the existing hack/workaround of the Monk Focus spell Wild Winds Stance which can't be used inside an area of Antimagic Field. Because entering the stance is a magical effect, but firing off Wild Winds Crash is a non-magical Unarmed Strike.

Sounds good to me, it's presumably magical anyway, like how the ocular processing units in Androids cast the True Strike Spell and have the arcane trait, it seems consistent with how advanced tech is already presented.


Not everyone likes the flavor of 'everything has to be spells even if they aren't called spells'.

Especially tech.

But that is a difference of opinions and desires though.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

That's respectable, I'm considering it from the perspective of if the ludo narrative already has a stance on it.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I'm personally a fan of the idea of nonmagical focus "powers" that draw from the same pool as focus spells. It's a good way to bring back resolve-based stuff without reinventing the wheel. I think the "this is not a spell" issue could be resolved by adding a new trait, but I think Mathmuse's Gizmo pool overcomplicates things a bit. Idle amateur armchair game design noodling below.

POWER: Activities with the Power trait draw from your focus pool like focus spells do, but are nonmagical, use your Class DC instead of your Spell DC, and do not count as "casting a spell" for the purposes of determining mechanical interactions.

When you learn a new focus power, add a focus point to your pool as if you had learned a focus spell. As usual, your focus pool cannot exceed a maximum of 3 points. For example, if you character knew both a focus spell and a focus power, their focus pool would contain two points, but if they knew two focus spells and two focus powers, they would only have three focus points.

EDIT: A little unfamiliar with the remastered refocusing rules, but I think there are ways to slip in some narrative flavor through how a nonmagical class might refocus. For instance, a mechanic might spend ten minutes making minor adjustments to their drone or defragging their exocortex.


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I'd much rather have an ancestry "this runs off focus points" power than an ancestry "use once per hour" power, and an ancestry focus power that starts out moderately useful and could be upgraded further as you go is actively interesting.


Same. It also means nobody has to constantly check "Has it been an hour yet?" each time they get into an encounter where said power is useful.

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