Developing to Spec: Part 9: Keeping It Simple

This is a Part Nine of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read long as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written) here.

While we were going through the PF core rulebook feats in order, we’ve hit two feats that play on rules in PF that Starfinder doesn’t have — Exotic Weapon Proficiency, and the first metamagic feat. When looking at converting those things to Starfinder, there’s going to be a temptation to make complex feats that closely map to the functionality of the PF versions. Sometimes, you have to do that to make a functional, interesting feat.

But let’s try not to.

Starfinder doesn’t have “exotic” weapons, but it DOES have “special weapons.” And, of course, you can gain proficiency with one special weapon with Special Weapon Proficiency.  But that requires you to take that feat for every model of special weapon, which means there’s space to let someone be proficient with all special weapons. If we require them to have the Special Weapon Proficiency feat as a prerequisite we don’t invalidate that feat, and Versatile Focus and Versatile Specialization set a precedent for this kind of mass-weapon-benefit feat.

Simple.

EXOTIC WEAPON PROFICIENCY (Combat)
You understand how to use exotic weapons in combat.
Prerequisites: Special Weapon Proficiency feat, proficiency with basic melee and small arms.
Benefit: You are proficient with all special weapons.

And that brings us to Extend Spell. Not only does Starfinder not already have metamagic, but technomancers have what are clearly a replacement for metamagic in the form of certain magic hacks, including “extended spell.” We COULD recreate the whole metamagic system… but that’s going to overlap with what technomancers get (reducing the value of those magic hacks) AND introduce a whole new subsystem. But what if there was a way to have an Extend Spell feat without doing either of those things?

For skills and weapon attacks and damage, rather than slide an effect into a different category to gain a benefit (such as metamagic increasing spell level to boost effects), they just give a numerical bonus. We don’t want to just add +4 rounds to durations, because we’d have to write tons of rules to make sure we didn’t have instantaneous spells running multiple rounds, and spells with a 10 minute/level casting time wouldn’t be affected in a significant way.

But since lots of durations ARE based on caster level, we can add a flat bonus to that to gain a benefit that only applies as relevant, and that can stack with technomancer magic hacks.

EXTEND SPELL
Your spells often last much longer than most spellcasters’.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast a spell with a duration based on level.
Benefit: When calculating the duration of your spells, treat your caster level as being +4 levels higher.

Simple, stacks with the technomancer spell hack, and from 5th level on not as useful as the spell hack.

Since there are lots more metamagic feats to convert, and we have a design principle in place for them, we’ll hop to getting all those done in the next few entries before we move on to Extra Channel.

PATREON
This series of posts about my specific game writing and development process (along with concrete examples and Starfinder feats) is — like all my blog posts — is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

 

About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on October 29, 2019, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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