Monthly Archives: November 2019

Tales of the Brain Eaters. Four.

E-Ville’s preternatural forces are mostly aligned with, if not actually part of, specific conclaves or ententes. The Red Cathedral is the most prevalent of these, and nearly every percival either toes the line with them, or has taken positions with lesser alliances specifically to oppose or avoid them. Most of these factions have specific otherworldly concerns, though I’m reasonable sure the Bridge Club are only interested in protecting their ability to play bridge. Which, given how particular the Red Cathedral is about the use of cards (focused on Tarot and Italian-suited decks, but covering all cards to some degree) does require some political power and unity.

But it turns out there are a few true independents left, existing in the margins. Many are sole practitioners, but some are small groups united by blood or possessions, too minor to be considered their own faction, too effective or connected to be considered civilians. The consuls of other factions seem well aware of at least most of these diacritic forces, which are sometimes employed as expendable mercenaries, but finding them is more difficult for outsiders.

Or newcomers.

Even so, there are some clues which can help you at least begin to make inquiries.

Palmistry barbers.

The occult links of both palm readers and old school barbers (especially in their early roles as bloodletters) are well attested to elsewhere. In most cases, those traditions are long since diluted to the point of rumor, but apparently a few followers in Evansville joined forces some generations ago, and have retained at least some of their true art. And, weirdly, they did so by combining their visible commercial front.

There are a few places in E-ville where one building serves as both a barber shop (never a “salon” or “stylist”), and a palm reader or fortune teller (but, interestingly, never a claim of being “psychic”). These public business are small and seem to mostly survive on loyal return customers. Their official offerings are no more connected to the hidden world than anything you’d find in a modern bookstore (though see below), but if you ask just the right questions, they may have the occult answers.

But don’t be insulting, and don’t threaten them. They’ve remained independent. Respect the why and how of that.

Blank delivery.

There are small, local stores where you can order groceries or deli items their own staff deliver. And some of them have options where you can pay for what appears to be a blank entry. But you can enter special requests, and pay extra for it. If you have the RIGHT shop, and the RIGHT special request and you pay the RIGHT amount, you may get something the Red Cathedral would rather control itself.

This works best if a trusted guide clues you in on where and how. Trying it at random is expensive hit-and-miss, and likely to get you tangled in mundane crime before you discover an occult supplier.

Books Plus…

There are a surprising number of bookstores in E-ville. Even national chains that have gone bankrupt have still-active stores here. Many of those zombie chain stores are places with occult connections, but they are firmly controlled by the major factions (though interestingly this seems to be a rare place where the Red Cathedral is not the major influencer… and I do not yet know who is).

But there are independent occult shops, if you can find them. They are all in older, cheaper parts of town, and seem to universally inhabit buildings built before 1925, or in the 1970s (I have no idea why). And they all offer “Books + ____.” What that blank extra something is varies, but the more eclectic, the better your chances of finding a secret back room is available if you know the password.

Books, comics, collectibles, and vaping supplies is a good sign. Books and pizza is surprisingly common. I’ve been told Books and Vacuum Repair is a sure thing, but I haven’t been able to find such a store. Apparently, they do not advertise online. Or indeed, at all.

Others

There is no doubt there are other independents, but the only ones I can confirm have required me to keep their secrets, which is fair enough. They are mites dashing between the feet of giants, and do not wish to be noticed needlessly. Or carelessly.

So if you need someone outside the compacts and factions that rule the shadows of Evansville, and you think you have a line, don;t dismiss it just because it doesn’t fit this pattern. As trends, these account for only a small portion of those who have stayed beyond the Red Cathedral’s reach.

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Developing to Spec: Part 12b – Adapting Concepts

This is the second section of Part Twelve of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along 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, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

We’ve reached Defensive Combat Training, which has the same kind of problems with game math and combat options as Greater Weapon Focus and, like it, there’s a way to preserve the concept by having it apply to avoiding penalties rather than gaining bonuses.

DEFENSIVE COMBAT TRAINING (Combat)
You have trained to keep your defenses us against tricky maneuvers, even under the worst circumstances
Benefit: You do not apply the penalty from the entangled, exhausted, fatigued, flat-footed, frightened, grappled, off-kilter, panicked, or prone conditions to your AC against combat maneuvers.

Deflect Arrows clearly got superseded by Deflect Projectiles, but we can possibly use the fact that the Starfinder version has extremely broad utility, late-level prerequisites, and a Resolve Point cost to make a much narrower, but less costly version just for “arrows.”

DEFLECT ARROWS (Combat)
You have trained in an archaic art designed to avoid archaic missile weapons.
Benefit: Once per round when an archaic ranged weapon that does kinetic damage would hit you, you may choose to have it miss you.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that 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!

Developing to Spec: Part 12 – Deadly and Deceitful

This is the first section of Part Twelve of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along 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, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

So now that we’ve done Greater Weapon Focus and Shatter Defenses, we can look at Deadly Stroke. The PF version is specifically designed to give you a kind of quick coup de grace option, but that doesn’t hold up well to Starfinder’s combat math. On the other hand, Starfinder does assume that if you have an attack bonus to high you can hit even while taking the penalty for multiattacking, you can do more damage (or significantly inconvenience them with a combat maneuver). There might be ways to allow that high-attack-bonus character to just access more damage directly if they pay a feat to do so.

And since Starfinder feats tend to be much more prerequisite-lite than PF, and the base attack bonus restricts this to higher-level characters anyway, we can do away with some of the prerequisites that aren’t directly related to the way this feat works.

DEADLY STROKE
With a well-placed strike, you can bring a swift and painful end to most foes.
Prerequisites: Greater Weapon Focus, Weapon Focus, and proficiency with the selected weapon, base attack bonus +11.
Benefit: When using a weapon you have Greater Weapon Focus with to make a single attack as a standard action, if your attack roll exceeds the target’s AC by 8 or more, the attack is a critical hit.

And that brings us to Deceitful, which has all the issues of Athletic and Acrobatic and similar feats. Luckily we can use the same solution—look through the relevant feats and seek some design space open for new options.

DECEITFUL
The art of deception is second-nature to you.
Benefit: You can use the diversion task of the Bluff skill to allow another character to use the distraction to attempt Stealth or to palm an object. If your skill check is 20 or higher, you can pass a secret message to the character you are making the distraction for informing them of your intention in creating the distraction, and no one who is distracted can attempt a Sense Motive check to learn the gist of that message.
Additionally, the DC of a Perception check to penetrate a successful disguise of yours is increased by +2.

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Writing Basics: Online Schmoozing

This is less Writing Basics than it is Freelancing Basics, but I suspect it’s going to have the same audience, so I don’t want to make a whole new tag. 🙂

I’ve spoken and written many times about how useful it is when building a game industry career to go meet other professionals in person. You can do this at conventions, game days, trade shows, and sometimes smaller open-invitation get-togethers. And I stand by all of that.

But, let’s face it, for a lot of people going to meet professionals who live in Seattle (or anywhere really) isn’t a viable option. If you don’t live right near an event they are attending, or very close to their home base, it’s expensive to get to any such opportunity. Even if you do live nearby, you may not be able to take time off work as needed. Or you may be a person with disabilities, or have family you have to take care of, or face crippling anxiety in crowds.

My first Gen Con nearly drove me out of the industry, I was so overwhelmed by the massive crowds. The first Gen Con I attended as a Paizo employee nearly killed me because I’m just not up to doing as much walking as it called for. I’ve worked very hard on overcoming those issues of mine, and many others, but that’s not an option for everyone.

What is available to everyone reading this on my blog is – online schmoozing.

No, it’s not as effective as meeting people in-person. But it’s also much less restrictive on when and with who you can try it. And human psyches being what they are, it can still be extremely effective, especially over the long run. Familiarity, gratitude, and humor can help build relationships.

So, some basics.

Follow Them. Like and Share Their Stuff

The beginning step is just to find places where these professionals are being visible in a professional capacity, and engaging with them there in basic and helpful ways. Do they have a professional Facebook page (and that likely includes anyplace they advertise their work)? Follow them, interact with and SHARE their posts. If you thought a post was neat, reply saying you thought it was neat. Retweet their Twitter announcements. Subscribe to their Twitch shows. This will begin to be noticed, over time, in a positive light.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Seriously, a declined friend request with no explanation is not an insult. Just take these things in stride, and look for more professional, less intimidate places to follow that game creative. Many creatives keep separate presences for their role as authors or artists an their personal social media, so try to find their professional account. (I don’t do this, but I’m a weird exception in that regard.)

And if they block you? Take the hint, and walk away. Full stop.

Remember They Don’t Owe You Anything

Online schmoozing is not transactional. Watching 400 hours of a Twitch stream does not obligate that broadcaster to do you favors, boost your stuff, or even talk to you. Over time you can see who does seem interested in talking to you, or even helping you, but accept that is their choice and you cannot and should not push for or expect anything.

Be Recognizable

In general, I think it’s most effective for you to use your real name and face as your tag and icon when you want to benefit from online schmoozing. But that’s obviously secondary to you being happy, and you being safe. If there are reasons not to use your real name or face, see if you can at least use recognizable names and icons over multiple platforms. I can’t begin to guess how many people I recognize on Facebook, and on Twitter, and on paizo.com, without having any idea they are all the same person. If someone wants to benefit from my getting to know them virtually, there’s a much bigger impact if I know those interactions are all with one person.

Be Safe

It’s the internet. Some creators are creeps. Some are secretly vile. Don’t do anything that feels scummy, invasive, or not in the nature of the professional contact level you are trying to build. Keeping communication in public spaces can help with this.

Respect Their Space

Different online spaces call for different kinds of interaction. For example, if a professional is streaming to promote their new book and have a live chat, and opens a question-and-answer period, that’s a bad time to ask their advice for how to break into the industry. They are there to promote something, so a much better interaction is to ask them about that project, or something closely related. If, after a few questions, there don’t seem to be more folks wanting to talk on that subject you can inquire about asking a less-related question. But if the answer is no, don’t push it.

Similarly, if you get invited to a social online space that includes professional, don’t pester them about professional issues without some sign it’s appropriate and welcome. I’ve heard stories about game company owners having people pitch them freelance projects during online gameplay with MMORPG guilds. That’s the wrong time and place.

Be Polite

Here I’m specifically talking about your interactions with professionals you WANT to get to know better. And, remember to think about how what you write could be taken in harsh text form, with no smile or human inflection or context to soften it. There are people I have known for decades who can reference old in-jokes with me online that make me smile, but that from the outside must look like some harsh insults. Someone who thought that was just how I interacted with folks online and tried to emulate similar language might well tick me off, and I’d have no idea they through they were joining in on the fun.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time On It

The idea here is to become part of an easily-accessed online community that includes professionals you hope to learn from, and someday be recognized by. It’s not to have a part-time job clicking likes and boosting tweets.

If your online schmoozing prevents you from doing anything fun or important? You’re doing it too much.

Shamelessly Linking This To My Patreon

Giving someone money actually isn’t generally the best way to build an online relationship… but being a patron of mine DOES help me have time to write advice posts like this one!

 

Developing to Spec: Part 11d – Design Tricks

This is the second section of  Part Eleven of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along 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.

So, Deadly Stroke is our next feat in the alphabetical list of things to convert from PF to Starfinder, but it has as prerequisites Greater Weapon Focus and Shatter Defenses, two PF feats that aren’t in Starfinder, and that are on our list to convert, but that we haven’t converted yet. So, it makes more sense to do those feats first, and then come back for Deadly Stroke.

So, Greater Weapon Focus has the same issue as Combat Expertise and Deadly Aim — it’s a PF feat build off a different mathematical assumption than Starfinder’ combat uses. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how to turn Greater Weapon Focus into anything more than bonuses to hit targets… it just doesn’t do anything else, and not much else is thematically appropriate.

But there is a trick up my designer’s sleeve. It’s not perfect, but when we HAVE to convert something like this, and we CAN’T just give bonuses without breaking the game, sometimes we can reduce penalties instead.

Reducing penalties doesn’t change a character’s maximum attack value, so they aren’t just more effective all the time, but it does allow them to retain more accuracy when they normally would lose it. It keeps the character within the range of expected numbers for Starfinder combat, while still allowing them to be better than expected in specific circumstances. Since Starfinder allows you to take penatlies to make multiple attacks (and this is almost always more effective in terms of total damage-per-round) we don’t want to just allow a character to reduce all penalties, since that could be used to almost always make a more effective damage-per-round choice than the normal maximum. Luckily for us there is another source of well-defined penalties in Starfinder–conditions.

GREATER WEAPON FOCUS (Combat)
You have become a master of a particular weapon type.
Prerequisites: Proficiency and Weapons Focus with selected weapon type, base attack bonus +8.
Benefit: Chose one weapon type (small arms, longarms, heavy weapons, etc.) with which you have Weapon Focus. When making attacks with these weapons, you ignore penalties to attack rolls from the entangled, exhausted, fatigued, frightened, off-target, and shaken conditions. 

That should appeal to weapon-focused characters with lots of feats to spare (such as soldier). If we weren’t specifically converting these to Starfinder feats it might be worth making this a soldier gear boost, but it’s not unbalanced to let any character take it, so we’ll leave it alone.

That brings us to Shatter Defenses. It works fine as-is (though we should note flat-footed is a condition). It does overlap with an operative’s trick-attack a bit, but we can incorporate off-kilter as an additional effect if the target is or becomes flat-footed, so an operative working with a character that has this feat still sees synergy in their attacks (another design trick for when rules have PC abilities overlapping).

SHATTER DEFENSES (Combat)
Your skill with your chosen weapon leaves opponents unable to defend themselves if you strike them when their defenses are already compromised.
Prerequisites: Weapon Focus, Dazzling Display, base attack bonus +6, proficiency with weapon.
Benefit: Any shaken, frightened, or panicked opponent hit by you this round gains the flat-footed condition until the end of your next turn. If the target is already flat-footed, or becomes flat-footed during that duration, it is off-kilter during this time instead. (Targets are off-kilter even if not in 0-G, but may automatically right themselves with a move action if this is the case).

So NEXT week, we can go back and pick up Deadly Stroke!

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Developing to Spec: Part 11c – Design Traps

This is the second section of  Part Eleven of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along 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.

Our next feat is Dazzling Display, which can again work exactly as written in Starfinder, but again isn’t in Starfinder. We need to ask ourselves why, and that means we need to examine how demoralize is sued in Starfinder. So, it’s useful to do a search through a complete Starfidner SRD for “demoralize” to see all the ways that task is used in various other abilities. This is important because, for example, we find in AP #12 there’s the Improved Demoralize feat, which lets you demoralize as a move action. That’s actually extremely powerful, and it cuts a lot of design space off for Dazzling Display.

We also discover the envoy class has the expertise talent “menacing gaze,” which allows you to demoralize a group of foes, which is the core concept behind Dazzling Display. And soldiers have shock and awe as a fighting style, which lets you burn Resolve to demoralize all foes within 60 feet. So, we can’t duplicate those effect without stealing some of the special abilities for those classes, and we can’t allow you to do it more quickly without overwriting Improved Demoralize. (I checked all the references for game uses of demoralize of course, from star knights to the ferocity blazon, these are just the most relevant issues.)

But what we don’t find is a demoralize critical hit effect. And that gives us some design space.

DAZZLING DISPLAY (Combat)
Your most spectacular attacks are frightful to behold.
Prerequisites: Weapon Focus
Benefit: You can add the demoralize critical hit effect to any attack you make that is a critical hit. The effect allows you to immediately make an Intimidate check to demoralize your target and all foes within 30 feet of your target. If your base attack bonus is greater than your Intimidate bonus, you may use it for the demoralize check. You may add this critical hit effect in addition to any other critical hit effect or effects the attack can normally benefit from. This critical hit effect applies to creature immune to critical hits and is not negated by things which negate critical hit effects, but does not apply to creatures immune to mind-affecting effects. This is a emotion, fear effect.

Moving on to Deadly Aim, we see it has the same issues as Combat Expertise in how it interacts with Starfinder’s combat math. Looking at some solutions, we see sniper rifles have some special rules, which maybe we can co-opt to match the flavor of Deadly Aim, without breaking the game’s math (though it also won’t be as broadly useful a feat, which is fine as long as it has good utility for the characters most likely to take it).

DEADLY AIM (Combat)
When you take time to aim, your accuracy is exceptional.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with sniper weapons.
Benefit: You can take a move action to aim with a ranged weapon as if it had the sniper weapon special property. This allows you to treat it’s range increment as being 50% longer. If you make an attack with a weapon that does have the sniper weapon special property, when you take a move action to aim with it you gain a +1 bonus to the next attack roll you make with it during the same round.

Of course the REAL design trap is that Deadly Aim IS already in Starfinder!

Always double check your sources. Otherwise, you might write a feat you don’t need. 🙂

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that 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!

 

Titles of the 500+ pdf Bonus MegaBundle

“Are there REALLY more than 500 pdfs in the Bonus MegaBundle, for just $30?
Yes.
513, in fact.

Bundle Contents:

  1. 3 Things Made From Crabmen.pdf
  2. 4HP Alien Races Sokura.pdf
  3. 4HP CCBase Class Engineer.pdf
  4. 4HP CC Abstraction Golems Expanded.pdf
  5. 4HP CC Animated Traps Expanded.pdf
  6. 4HP CC Pakuvresh.pdf
  7. 4HP Celestial Character Options.pdf
  8. 4HP Character Options – Gods in the Void.pdf
  9. 4HP Comedic Character Options.pdf
  10. 4HP Even More Horrifically Overpowered Feats.pdf
  11. 4HP Gruesome Aberrations.pdf
  12. 4HP Gruesome Constructs.pdf
  13. 4HP Gruesome Fey.pdf
  14. 4HP Gruesome Oozes.pdf
  15. 4HP Hybrid Base Class – Renegade.pdf
  16. 4HP Hybrid Class – Blasphemer.pdf
  17. 4HP Hybrid Class – Fury.pdf
  18. 4HP Hybrid Class – Shifu.pdf
  19. 4HP Hybrid Class – The Psychemist.pdf
  20. 4HP Hybrid Class Possesed.pdf
  21. 4HP Hybrid Class The Montebank.pdf
  22. 4HP Living Items.pdf
  23. 4HP Mature Character Options.pdf
  24. 4HP Minmaxed Monsters.pdf
  25. 4HP Monsters Under the Bed.pdf
  26. 4HP More Comedic Character Options.pdf
  27. 4HP Mythic Archetypes.pdf
  28. 4HP Mythic Kingdoms.pdf
  29. 4HP Mythic Magic Expanded.pdf
  30. 4HP Mythic Magic Items.pdf
  31. 4HP Mythic Path Transcendentalist.pdf
  32. 4HP Technomagic – Hybrid Magic Items.pdf
  33. 4HP Venerable Character Options.pdf
  34. 4HP Vule the Living Planet.pdf
  35. 4HP Yet More Horrifically Overpowered Feats.pdf
  36. 4HP Young Character Options.pdf
  37. 5 Hellfire Feats.pdf
  38. 55 Minor Armor Upgrades.pdf
  39. 55 Minor Spell Variations.pdf
  40. 55 Minor Weapon Modifications.pdf
  41. 5e Classes The Godling.pdf
  42. 5e Menagerie Griffmeras.pdf
  43. 5e Menagerie Horrors of the Aboleth.pdf
  44. 5e Menagerie Howl at the Moon.pdf
  45. 5e Menagerie Oceans of Blood.pdf
  46. 5e Options Rogue Archetypes Shadow Warrior.pdf
  47. 5e Trash Gryphon.pdf
  48. Advanced Options – Alchemists Discoveries.pdf
  49. Advanced Options – Cavaliers’ Orders.pdf
  50. Advanced Options – Cavaliers.pdf
  51. Advanced Options – Extra Evolutions.pdf
  52. Advanced Options – Inquisitors Judgments.pdf
  53. Advanced Options – Slayer Talents & Lethalities.pdf
  54. Advanced Options – Warpriest Blessings.pdf
  55. Advanced Options – Witchs’ Hexes-Revised.pdf
  56. Advanced Options-Fight Like A Pirate.pdf
  57. AdvancedOptions-OraclesCurses.pdf
  58. Adventurers Handbook.pdf
  59. Annals of the Archfiends – Phosonith – The Cruel Charmer.pdf
  60. AO Patron Hexes.pdf
  61. AO_Slayer_Talents___Lethalities.pdf
  62. Bullet Point #1 Five Dragonscale.pdf
  63. Bullet Point #19 Death Mage Feats.pdf
  64. Bullet Point 10 Feats of Fear and Fearlessness.pdf
  65. Bullet Point 10 Feats of Hammer and Thunder.pdf
  66. Bullet Point 10 Mage Armor Feats.pdf
  67. Bullet Point 10 Monster Feats.pdf
  68. Bullet Point 10_Subschool_Augmentation_Feats.pdf
  69. Bullet Point 12 Fighter Bravery Alts.pdf
  70. Bullet Point 12_Rogue_Trapfinding_Alts.pdf
  71. Bullet Point 13 Witch Hexes.pdf
  72. Bullet Point 13-Dwarven-Questing-Feats.pdf
  73. Bullet Point 14 Halfling Burglar Feats.pdf
  74. Bullet Point 15 Fantasy Taxes.pdf
  75. Bullet Point 2 Alt Leadership Feats.pdf
  76. Bullet Point 3 Simian Races.pdf
  77. Bullet Point 3 Stone Golem Templates.pdf
  78. Bullet Point 3 Supernatural Abilities.pdf
  79. Bullet Point 3_Simian_Races.pdf
  80. Bullet Point 4 Ghostbusting Items.pdf
  81. Bullet Point 4 Invisibility Feats.pdf
  82. Bullet Point 4 Raise Dead Feats.pdf
  83. Bullet Point 4_Death_Mage_Feats.pdf
  84. Bullet Point 5 Dragonscale.pdf
  85. Bullet Point 5 Fireball Feats.pdf
  86. Bullet Point 5 Handy Haversacks.pdf
  87. Bullet Point 5 Haste-Slow Feats.pdf
  88. Bullet Point 5 Machinesmith Feats.pdf
  89. Bullet Point 5 Meta-Combat Feats.pdf
  90. Bullet Point 5 Mount Steed Spell Feats.pdf
  91. Bullet Point 5 Silver Weapon Magic Properties.pdf
  92. Bullet Point 5 Unseen Servant Feats.pdf
  93. Bullet Point 5 Witch’s Daggers.pdf
  94. Bullet Point 5_Control_Water_Feats.pdf
  95. Bullet Point 6 Anachronistic Armors.pdf
  96. Bullet Point 6 Antimagic Field Feats.pdf
  97. Bullet Point 6 Archon Feats.pdf
  98. Bullet Point 6 Feats for Summon Spells.pdf
  99. Bullet Point 6 Godling Feats.pdf
  100. Bullet Point 6 Jester Feats.pdf
  101. Bullet Point 6 New Exotic and Martial Swords.pdf
  102. Bullet Point 6 Nonmagic Weapon Qualities.pdf
  103. Bullet Point 6 Spell-Less Ranger Feats.pdf
  104. Bullet Point 6 Teleportation Spell Feats.pdf
  105. Bullet Point 6-Mythic-Feats.pdf
  106. Bullet Point 7 Bard Feats.pdf
  107. Bullet Point 7 Cure Light Wounds Feats.pdf
  108. Bullet Point 7 Feats For Flying Foes.pdf
  109. Bullet Point 7 Feats for Sword and Board.pdf
  110. Bullet Point 7 Feats for the Undead.pdf
  111. Bullet Point 7 Magic Firearm Properties.pdf
  112. Bullet Point 7 Magic Missile Feats.pdf
  113. Bullet Point 7 Shadow Assassin Feats.pdf
  114. Bullet Point 7 Shield Feats.pdf
  115. Bullet Point 7 Sinful Feats of Gluttony.pdf
  116. Bullet Point 7 Sinful Feats of Lust.pdf
  117. Bullet Point 7 Spiritual Weapon Feats.pdf
  118. Bullet Point 7 Stupid Weapons April Fools.pdf
  119. Bullet Point 7 Tendril Tentacle Spell Feats.pdf
  120. Bullet Point 7 Time Feats.pdf
  121. Bullet Point 7 War Master Feats.pdf
  122. Bullet Point 7 War_Master_Feats.pdf
  123. Bullet Point 7-Sinful-Feats-of-Pride.pdf
  124. Bullet Point 8 Animal Feats.pdf
  125. Bullet Point 8 Barbarian Feats.pdf
  126. Bullet Point 8 Dragonrider Feats.pdf
  127. Bullet Point 8 Lightning Bolt Feats.pdf
  128. Bullet Point 8_Barbarian_Feats.pdf
  129. Bullet Point 9 Armiger Feats.pdf
  130. Bullet Point 9 Witch Hunter Feats.pdf
  131. Bullet Point 9-Alchemical Bomb Discoveries.pdf
  132. Bullet Point Cold Iron Magic Weapons.pdf
  133. Bullet Point Legendary-Weapons.pdf
  134. Bullet Point Magic_Diseases.pdf
  135. Childhood Adventures.pdf
  136. CO The Feat Reference Document.pdf
  137. Codex Draconis – Black Lords of the Marsh.pdf
  138. Codex Draconis – Green Menace of the Woodlands.pdf
  139. Codex Draconis – Red Tyants of the Mountains.pdf
  140. Codex Draconis – Satraps of the Deserts.pdf
  141. Codex Draconis – White Terrors of the North.pdf
  142. Corruption Codex.pdf
  143. CSP TA The Witch ML.pdf
  144. CSP Waysides Rock Bottom.pdf
  145. CSP-RR-Aardvolk.pdf
  146. CSP-RR-Gnolls.pdf
  147. Dragon Companion Handbook.pdf
  148. Dynastic Races Compendium.pdf
  149. EMI Kyr’shin Unchained.pdf
  150. EMI Taka’shi.pdf
  151. EMM 1 Interval Spellcasting.pdf
  152. EMM 10 Brawler Archetypes.pdf
  153. EMM 11 Mysteries of Spring.pdf
  154. EMM 12 Malborgoroth.pdf
  155. EMM 13 Unchained Kangaroos.pdf
  156. EMM 14 Spells of Comedy.pdf
  157. EMM 15 Way of the Eight.pdf
  158. EMM 16 Mystic Scrivener.pdf
  159. EMM 17 Microsized Templates .pdf
  160. EMM 18 Motherly Options.pdf
  161. EMM 19 Gloom Discoveries.pdf
  162. EMM 2 The Skinsuit Ritual.pdf
  163. EMM 20 Esoteric Implements.pdf
  164. EMM 21 Unchained Fighter Options.pdf
  165. EMM 22 Mysteries of Summer.pdf
  166. EMM 23 Mesmerist Feats.pdf
  167. EMM 24 Patriotic Options.pdf
  168. EMM 25 Yroometji.pdf
  169. EMM 26 Black Blade Options.pdf
  170. EMM 27 Spells of Childhood.pdf
  171. EMM 28 Cleric Options.pdf
  172. EMM 29 Favored Enemy Focuses.pdf
  173. EMM 3 Childhood Feats.pdf
  174. EMM 30 Haunt Invocations.pdf
  175. EMM 31 Injuries and Scars.pdf
  176. EMM 32 School Day Options.pdf
  177. EMM 33 Mysteries of Autumn.pdf
  178. EMM 33 Unchained Monk Options.pdf
  179. EMM 34 Mysteries of Autumn.pdf
  180. EMM 35 Investigator Options.pdf
  181. EMM 36 Ghost Hunting Options.pdf
  182. EMM 37 Occultic Singularity Ritual.pdf
  183. EMM 38 More Unchained Fighter Options.pdf
  184. EMM 39 Pumpkin Kami.pdf
  185. EMM 4 Ley Line Qualities.pdf
  186. EMM 40 The Tall One.pdf
  187. EMM 41 Cult Classic Heroes.pdf
  188. EMM 42 Shapeshifter Options.pdf
  189. EMM 43 Bountiful Harvest Ritual.pdf
  190. EMM 44 Family Options.pdf
  191. EMM 45 Festive Armory.pdf
  192. EMM 46 Festive Options.pdf
  193. EMM 47 Yearbound Phoenix Ritual.pdf
  194. EMM 48 Unchained Favored Classes.pdf
  195. EMM 49 Far-Flung Races.pdf
  196. EMM 5 Kumiho.pdf
  197. EMM 50 Haunted Archetypes.pdf
  198. EMM 51 Arcane Discoveries.pdf
  199. EMM 52 Paladin Mercies.pdf
  200. EMM 53 Rage Options.pdf
  201. EMM 54 Alchemical Power Components.pdf
  202. EMM 55 Front Liner’s Options.pdf
  203. EMM 56 Mystery of Riddles.pdf
  204. EMM 57 Magus Arcana.pdf
  205. EMM 58 Bloodline Mutations.pdf
  206. EMM 59 Unchained Kangaroos, Dire Edition.pdf
  207. EMM 6 Mysteries of Passion.pdf
  208. EMM 60 Kitsune Kineticist Options.pdf
  209. EMM 61 Animal Teamwork Feats.pdf
  210. EMM 62 Mystery of Music.pdf
  211. EMM 63 Dynastic Armory.pdf
  212. EMM 64 Hecaviogos Levialogi.pdf
  213. EMM 65 Catfolk Options.pdf
  214. EMM 66 Eidolon Knight.pdf
  215. EMM 67 Animal Companion Archetypes.pdf
  216. EMM 68 Superior Alchemical Items.pdf
  217. EMM 69 Fey Shaman Spirit.pdf
  218. EMM 7 Deific Passengers.pdf
  219. EMM 70 Unchained Fighter Archetypes.pdf
  220. EMM 71 Wild Shape Variants.pdf
  221. EMM 72 Vessel Passengers.pdf
  222. EMM 73 Microsized Monsters.pdf
  223. EMM 74 Centaur Options.pdf
  224. EMM 75 Gculcilite.pdf
  225. EMM 76 Lost Children.pdf
  226. EMM 77 Unchained Ninja Options.pdf
  227. EMM 78 Allakhadae.pdf
  228. EMM 79 Unchained Bard Masterpieces.pdf
  229. EMM 8 Gnoll Options.pdf
  230. EMM 80 Arcanist Exploits.pdf
  231. EMM 81 Mutative Muck.pdf
  232. EMM 82 Age Shifting Options.pdf
  233. EMM 83 Dynastic Spells.pdf
  234. EMM 84 Kineticist Archetypes.pdf
  235. EMM 85 Transpositional Creatures.pdf
  236. EMM 86 More Unchained Bardic Masterpieces.pdf
  237. EMM 88 Creepy Creatures.pdf
  238. EMM 89 Everyman Races.pdf
  239. EMM 9 Sleeping Rules.pdf
  240. EMM 90 Occultist Panoplies.pdf
  241. EMM 91 Bloodrager Bloodlines.pdf
  242. EMM 92 Squishikin Options.pdf
  243. EMM 93 Soulless.pdf
  244. EMM 94 Familiar Archetypes.pdf
  245. EMO Kineticist.pdf
  246. EMO Paranormal Classes.pdf
  247. EMO Shaman Spirits.pdf
  248. EMO Unchained Fighters.pdf
  249. EMU Bards.pdf
  250. EMU Eidolons.pdf
  251. EMU Fighter.pdf
  252. EMU Teamwork Feats.pdf
  253. EMU Unchained Cunning.pdf
  254. Engines of Destructions.pdf
  255. Everyman Archetypes, Skald.pdf
  256. Everyman Archetypes, Swashbuckler.pdf
  257. Everyman Iconics Drake.pdf
  258. Everyman Iconics Kyrshin.pdf
  259. Everyman Iconics Shira.pdf
  260. Everyman Unchained – Eidolons.pdf
  261. Everyman Unchained Monk Archetypes II.pdf
  262. Everyman Unchained Monk Archetypes.pdf
  263. Everyman Unchained, Unchained Cunning.pdf
  264. Everyman Unchained-Skills and Options.pdf
  265. Everyman Unchained-Unchained Rage.pdf
  266. Everyman_Unchained__Unchained_Cunning.pdf
  267. Faeries of the Fringe.pdf
  268. FTF 13 Evil Spells.pdf
  269. Genius Adventures – Spring of Disorder.pdf
  270. Genius Adventures – The Black Skull Laughs.pdf
  271. Genius Adventures – There’s Yer Problem.pdf
  272. Genius Guide to 110 Spell Variants Vol. 01.pdf
  273. Genius Guide to 110 Spell Variants Vol. 03.pdf
  274. Genius Guide to 110 Spell Variants Vol. 04.pdf
  275. Genius Guide to Air Magic.pdf
  276. Genius Guide to Another 110 Spell Variants Vol. 02.pdf
  277. Genius Guide to Apeiron Staves.pdf
  278. Genius Guide to Apprentice-Level Characters.pdf
  279. Genius Guide to Arcane Archetypes.pdf
  280. Genius Guide to Archer Archtypes.pdf
  281. Genius Guide to Chaos Magic.pdf
  282. Genius Guide to Crystal Magic.pdf
  283. Genius Guide to Divination Magic.pdf
  284. Genius Guide to Divine Archetypes.pdf
  285. Genius Guide to Dream Magic.pdf
  286. Genius Guide to Earth Magic.pdf
  287. Genius Guide to Exalted Domains of Light and Lore beta.pdf
  288. Genius Guide to Exalted Domains of Storms and Savagery.pdf
  289. Genius Guide to Exalted Domains of War and Ruin.pdf
  290. Genius Guide to Favored Class Options.pdf
  291. Genius Guide to Feats of Battle.pdf
  292. Genius Guide to Feats of Critical Combat.pdf
  293. Genius Guide to Feats of Divine Might.pdf
  294. Genius Guide to Feats of Immediate Action.pdf
  295. Genius Guide to Feats of Metamagic.pdf
  296. Genius Guide to Feats of Multiclassing.pdf
  297. Genius Guide to Feats of Psionic Might.pdf
  298. Genius Guide to Feats of Runic Might 2.pdf
  299. Genius Guide to Feats of Runic Might.pdf
  300. Genius Guide to Feats of Spellcasting.pdf
  301. Genius Guide to Feats of Subterfuge.pdf
  302. Genius Guide to Fire Magic.pdf
  303. Genius Guide to Gruesome Undead Templates.pdf
  304. Genius Guide to Hellfire Magic.pdf
  305. Genius Guide to Hoof and Horn Racial Options.pdf
  306. Genius Guide to Horrific Haunts.pdf
  307. Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Feats.pdf
  308. Genius Guide to Ice Magic.pdf
  309. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 1 – Armor and Weapons.pdf
  310. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 10 – Fezzes Are Cool.pdf
  311. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 2 – Pretty, Pretty Rings.pdf
  312. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 3 – Hot Rods.pdf
  313. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 4 – Fantastic Footwear.pdf
  314. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 5 – All You Need Is Gloves.pdf
  315. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 6 – Cloaks and Daggers.pdf
  316. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 7 – Krazy Kragnar.pdf
  317. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 8 – Belt One On.pdf
  318. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less 9 – Bell, Book, and Candle.pdf
  319. Genius Guide to Loot 4 Less Things that Make You Go Boom.pdf
  320. Genius Guide to Martial Archetypes.pdf
  321. Genius Guide to Mystic Godlings.pdf
  322. Genius Guide to Name Traits.pdf
  323. Genius Guide to Races of Fire and Fury.pdf
  324. Genius Guide to Races of Hoof and Horn.pdf
  325. Genius Guide to Races of Wind and Wing.pdf
  326. Genius Guide to Rune Staves and Wyrd Wands.pdf
  327. Genius Guide to Simple Monster Templates.pdf
  328. Genius Guide to the Archon.pdf
  329. Genius Guide to the Armiger.pdf
  330. Genius Guide to the Death Mage.pdf
  331. Genius Guide to the Dragonrider Revised.pdf
  332. Genius Guide to the Godling Ascendant.pdf
  333. Genius Guide to the Godling.pdf
  334. Genius Guide to the Magus.pdf
  335. Genius Guide to the Mosaic Mage.pdf
  336. Genius Guide to the Order of Vigilance.pdf
  337. Genius Guide to the Shadow Assassin.pdf
  338. Genius Guide to the Talented Cavalier.pdf
  339. Genius Guide to the Templar.pdf
  340. Genius Guide to the Time Thief.pdf
  341. Genius Guide to the Time Warden.pdf
  342. Genius Guide to the Vanguard Revised.pdf
  343. Genius Guide to the War Master.pdf
  344. Genius Guide to the Witch Hunter.pdf
  345. Genius Guide to What’s in my Pocket – Part Deux.pdf
  346. Genius Guide to What_s in my Pocket – Part Deux.pdf
  347. GG to Bravery Feats.pdf
  348. GG to Feats of Spellcasting II.pdf
  349. GG to Gruesome Dragons.pdf
  350. GG to More Horrifically Overpowered Feats.pdf
  351. GG to More Ranger Talents.pdf
  352. GG to the Dracomancer.pdf
  353. GG to the Hellion.pdf
  354. GG to the Magister.pdf
  355. GG to the Riven Mage.pdf
  356. GG to the Shadow Warrior.pdf
  357. GG to the Talented Ranger.pdf
  358. GG-to-More-Horrifically-Overpowered-Feats.pdf
  359. GG-to-the-Hellion.pdf
  360. GG-to-the-Magister.pdf
  361. GG-to-the-Riven-Mage.pdf
  362. GGT Domain Channeling II.pdf
  363. GGT Domain Channeling.pdf
  364. GGT Expanded Class Options.pdf
  365. GGT Gruesome Giants.pdf
  366. GGT HOMFeats.pdf
  367. GGT Homophone Spells.pdf
  368. GGT More Barbarian Talents.pdf
  369. GGT More Bard Talents.pdf
  370. GGT More Cleric Talents.pdf
  371. GGT More Simple Class Templates for Monsters.pdf
  372. GGT More Witch Talents.pdf
  373. GGT Mythic Subpaths.pdf
  374. GGT Simple Class Templates for Monsters.pdf
  375. GGT the Cruorchemist.pdf
  376. GGT The Opportunist.pdf
  377. GGT The Talented Barbarian.pdf
  378. GGT the Talented Bard.pdf
  379. GGT the Talented Bestiary PDF Webview.pdf
  380. 2GGT the Talented Bestiary PDF.pdf
  381. GGT the Talented Cleric.pdf
  382. GGT the Talented Druid.pdf
  383. GGT the Talented Otter Dragon.pdf
  384. GGT the Talented Witch.pdf
  385. GGT Variant Multiclass Rules.pdf
  386. GGT-Expanded-Class-Options.pdf
  387. GGT-More-Barbarian-Talents.pdf
  388. GGT-The-Talented-Barbarian.pdf
  389. GGtoHOMFeats.pdf
  390. GG_to_Feats_of_Spellcasting_II.pdf
  391. GG_to_More_Ranger_Talents.pdf
  392. GG_to_the_Dracomancer.pdf
  393. GG_to_the_Shadow_Warrior.pdf
  394. GG_to_the_Talented_Ranger.pdf
  395. GO Masters of Time.pdf
  396. GO-Masters-of-Time.pdf
  397. Green-Menace-of-the-Woodlands.pdf
  398. Halfling-Burglar-Feats.pdf
  399. Heralds of the Apocalypse.pdf
  400. HFNotes-001-Spellpoint-Feats.pdf
  401. HFNotes-002-Stocking-Stuffers.pdf
  402. HH 002 Spellpoints Expansion.pdf
  403. Houserule Footnotes Spell Point Feats.pdf
  404. Houserule Handbooks Spell Points.pdf
  405. Houserule Handbooks Spellpoints Compilation.pdf
  406. Into The Veil.pdf
  407. Kitsune Compendium.pdf
  408. Krazy Kragnar Magic Staff Emporium.pdf
  409. Krazy Kragnar’s Black Market Magic Items.pdf
  410. Krazy Kragnars Alchemical Surplus Shop.pdf
  411. Krazy_Kragnars_Alchemical_Surplus_Shop.pdf
  412. Krazy_Kragnar_Magic_Staff_Emporium.pdf
  413. Leadership Handbook.pdf
  414. Lunar Knights.pdf
  415. Microsized Adventures.pdf
  416. MM A Council of Genies.pdf
  417. MM Bulette Points.pdf
  418. MM Draconis Arcanus.pdf
  419. MM SS Giraffenomicon.pdf
  420. MM SS Pumpkin Stalker.pdf
  421. MM The Swarminomicon.pdf
  422. MM Troops.pdf
  423. MM_Winter_Ravagers.pdf
  424. MO Core Mythic Class Features.pdf
  425. MO Mythic Base Class Features.pdf
  426. MO Mythic Dragonrider Class Features.pdf
  427. MO-Mythic-Rogue-Class-Features.pdf
  428. Monster Menagerie – Construct Companion.pdf
  429. Monster Menagerie – Covens of Chaos.pdf
  430. Monster Menagerie – Demonic Harlots.pdf
  431. Monster Menagerie – Horrors of the Aboleth.pdf
  432. Monster Menagerie – Howl at the Moon.pdf
  433. Monster Menagerie – Kingdom of Graves.pdf
  434. Monster Menagerie – Kith of the Harpy Queen.pdf
  435. Monster Menagerie – Lurkers in the Dark.pdf
  436. Monster Menagerie – Threats from Beyond.pdf
  437. Monster Menagerie – Winter Ravagers.pdf
  438. Monster Menagerie Griffmeras.pdf
  439. Mythic Fighter Class Features.pdf
  440. Mythic Menagerie – Rise of the Goblinoids.pdf
  441. Mythic Options The Missing Core Feats.pdf
  442. Night of the Starbird.pdf
  443. Occult Options 1.pdf
  444. Oceans of Blood.pdf
  445. Paranormal Adventures.pdf
  446. Paranormal Classes.pdf
  447. PF Trash Gryphon.pdf
  448. Psychological Combat.pdf
  449. Races Revised – the Kitsune Clans.pdf
  450. Ranger Options – Knacks of Nature.pdf
  451. Ravagers of Time.pdf
  452. Relic Files – From Beyond the Stars I.pdf
  453. Relic Files – From Beyond the Stars II.pdf
  454. Relic Files – Treasures of Camelot I.pdf
  455. Relic Files – Treasures of Camelot II.pdf
  456. Relic Files – Treasures of Camelot III.pdf
  457. RF Manticore Power Armor.pdf
  458. RF Treasures of the Earth – Svarduun.pdf
  459. RP Kyubi Paragon.pdf
  460. RP Noble Aspirant.pdf
  461. SA Laser Grenades.pdf
  462. SA Shotguns.pdf
  463. Samsaran Compendium.pdf
  464. Satraps-of-the-Deserts.pdf
  465. SC Coordinated Combat Feats.pdf
  466. SC Horrifically Overpowered Feats.pdf
  467. SC Legacy Cavalier.pdf
  468. SC Legacy Dragonrider.pdf
  469. SC Legacy Gunslinger.pdf
  470. SC Technomancy Manual.pdf
  471. SC Toonimancy.pdf
  472. SFA Cannibal Clowns from Outer Space.pdf
  473. SFA Deluxe Drider.pdf
  474. SFA Sluagh.pdf
  475. SFS Psychic Space Cats.pdf
  476. SGP A Brace of Pistols.pdf
  477. SGP Argonax the Mad.pdf
  478. SGP Power Word Spells.pdf
  479. SGP Races Revised The Kobold Kings.pdf
  480. Skill Challenge Handbook.pdf
  481. Sorcerers Options Beyond Bloodlines-1.pdf
  482. Spell-Point_Compilation.pdf
  483. Starfarer’s Codex Witch Legacy Class.pdf
  484. The Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill.pdf
  485. The Genius Guide to More Cavalier Talents.pdf
  486. The Genius Guide to More Fighter Talents.pdf
  487. The Genius Guide to More Monk Talents.pdf
  488. The Genius Guide to More Rogue Talents.pdf
  489. The Genius Guide to the Death Knight.pdf
  490. The Genius Guide to the Relics of the Godlings II.pdf
  491. The Genius Guide to the Relics of the Godlings.pdf
  492. The Genius Guide to the Talented Cavalier.pdf
  493. The Genius Guide to the Talented Fighter.pdf
  494. The Genius Guide to The Talented Monk.pdf
  495. The Genius Guide to the Talented Rogue.pdf
  496. The Pirate Haven of Blackrock.pdf
  497. The-Genius-Guide-to-the-Death-Knight.pdf
  498. The-Genius-Guide-to-the-Relics-of-the-Godlings.pdf
  499. Ultimate Charisma.pdf
  500. Ultimate Occult.pdf
  501. Ultimate Options – Arcane Discoveries.pdf
  502. Ultimate Options – Grit and Gunslingers.pdf
  503. Ultimate Options – Power of the Ninja.pdf
  504. UO Bardic Masterpieces.pdf
  505. UO New Magus Arcana..pdf
  506. UO Story Feats.pdf
  507. VC Radical Pantheon.pdf
  508. VC The Black Knight.pdf
  509. 4VCPDF.pdf
  510. Veranthea Codex – Lost Legends of Urethiel.pdf
  511. Veranthea-Codex.pdf
  512. Wind and Wing Racial Options.pdf
  513. Yuletide Terror.pdf

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Developing to Spec: Part 11b – Matching Mechanics to Flavor

This is the second section of  Part Eleven of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along 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.

We’re chewing through feats at a good pace now, and running into many fewer that refer to rules that just don’t exist in Starfinder. but we also need to make sure that even if a feat can be adapted directly, we are doing good thematic conversions as well. And that brings us to Combat Expertise and Command Undead.

So, once again, Combat Expertise works as written in Starfinder… which leads to ask why it isn’t IN Starfinder? When so much of Starfinder is clearly based on PF, and so many feats are adapted over, why was this one left behind?

A careful analysis shows the answer is: math.

Starfinder combat math is different from PF, despite so much of the system being built on the same base mechanics. Part of this is because Starfinder replaced iterative attacks with increases in damage as you gain levels. But part of it is because what bonuses are given out are more tightly controlled. We CAN introduce new bonuses on top of those–they game mechanics will still produce results that make sense to players–but doing so begins warping the system in a way that is going to make play results unpredictable.

If we can avoid that, we want to.

But since we know Starfinder has rules for making multiple attacks a -4 to both, and has rules for giving up attacks to gain a +4 bonus to AC, maybe we can create a new option that allows a player to take the same penalties as a full defense and multiple attacks in a round, but still gives them one attack and some movement. It’ll only be useful for corner-case tactics, but it’s also optional. If players can’t figure out a way to make this useful (mostly likely with a high-Dex energy-weapon optimized soldier when facing a horde of lower-CR foes), they just don’t take this feat.

And it’s clearly superior to JUST taking a full defense action, so it has its uses. It’s the kind of thing someone with expertise in combat might take as a 7th or 9th feat. In fact, since not a lot of Int builds are combat focused, let’s just slap a +9 attack bonus onto the prerequisites, to make it clear this isn’t designed for 1st level characters.

COMBAT EXPERTISE (Combat)
You can increase your defense at the expense of your accuracy and mobility.
Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +9.
Benefit: As a full action you can choose to take a –8 penalty on attack rolls to gain a +4 bonus to your Armor Class and make a single attack. You may choose to take a guarded step as part of this action. You cannot take attacks of opportunity. You cannot combine this with any other action that increases AC. The effects of this feat last until your next turn.

Okay, that brings us to Command Undead. We could just make this a new option off the healing channel connection power, but that means we’re saying healers make the best undead controllers and that feels… wrong. The devastator and shadow mystic connections feel more appropriate, so…

COMMAND UNDEAD
Using foul powers of necromancy, you can command undead creatures, making them into your servants.
Prerequisites: Mystic (devastator or shadow connection) level 5.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can expend one Resolve Point to enslave undead within 30 feet. Undead receive a Will save to negate the effect at your normal connection power DC.  Undead that fail their saves fall under your control, obeying your commands to the best of their ability, as if under the effects of control undead. Intelligent undead receive a new saving throw each day to resist your command. As long as you are controlling any of these undead, you cannot recover the Resolve Point used activate this feat. You can control any number of undead, so long as their total levels do not exceed your mystic level. If an undead creature is under the control of another creature, you must make an opposed Charisma check whenever your orders conflict.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! I’m happy to do this kind of Practical TTRPG Designer masterclass free to the public… but it’s only possible for me to take the time to do so if people join my Patreon and help me have the free time to write these things!

Developing to Spec: Part 11 – Building Momentum

This is a Part Eleven of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along 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.

There often comes a time in any big project where I feel I have gained momentum–most of the big design challenges are settled, I have gotten very familiar with the details of the rulesets involved, and the words just flow more easily. Once I hit this point, it’s time to just maintain a good pace and work on getting the project finished without adding any more complications than I need to, but also make sure I don;t get complacent.

So, the next feat we need to adapt is Catch Off-Guard which… works perfectly in Starfinder. There’s absolutely nothing you HAVE to do to make this feat SF compliant… but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we *should* change. having momentum also means making sure we don’t tear past something without taking a moment to consider the implications of its rules design.

Unarmed opponents are less common in Starfinder, the flat-footed condition is tied into a lot of class builds already, and damage-per-round is calculated using Weapon Specialization and increasing damage dice for higher-level weapons rather than multiple attacks per round. Also, this seems like a feat operatives would want (much as rogues are more interested in the PF version), so we want them to find it more useful.

CATCH OFF-GUARD (Combat)
Foes are surprised by your skilled use of unorthodox and improvised weapons.
Benefit: You do not suffer any penalties for using an improvised melee weapon. You may add half your level to damage dealt with such weapons as a special form of Weapon Specialization (and in place of any other weapon specialization bonus), and treat such weapons as having the operative weapon special property.
Normal: You take a –4 penalty on attack rolls made with an improvised weapon and never add damage from Weapon Specialization.

That brings us to Channel Smite, which again applies to a game mechanic that doesn’t exist in Starfinder. But the Harm Undead feat that allows healing connection mystics to use healing energy to harm undead clearly serves the same function as channel, so we can adapt from there. In this case, there’s no need to build a complex rules subsystem, we just want to make sure the details work well in Starfinder’s game environment.

CHANNEL SMITE (Combat)
You can channel your mystic energy through a melee weapon you wield.
Prerequisite: Harm Undead, healing channel connection power, mystic level 1st.
Benefit: Before you make an attack roll, as part of the same action you can choose to expend your healing channel to add its value to the attack as bonus damage that only applies to undead. The damage applies to any undead hit by the attack. This does not apply to any attack that does not require an attack roll (though it does apply to area attacks that also require attack rolls, such as most grenades). The undead can attempt a Will save to reduce this bonus damage by half, at your usual connection power DC.

It may seem like we’re still at the beginning of this process since we’re still in feats beginning with a C, but given we’ve done all the metamagic feats, all the critical feats, and all the item crafting feats, we’ve actually made major progress towards being done. It may not be the beginning of the end of this project, but we’ve definitely hit the end of the beginning.

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!

Writing Basics: Bringing Your Publisher Concerns

In part one of my recent ongoing series of articles looking at converting every feat from the PF Core Rulebook that doesn’t already have a namesake in Starfinder to the Starfinder game system, I mention that if you think a project you are being hired for has bad decisions behind it, you should bring those to your publisher. I also mention that once you agree to do the job you should do it, without offering any exceptions for cases where you have moral or ethical concerns about completing the work. these can be tricky waters to navigate, but it’s worth discussing some best practices for bring your concerns to your publisher/editor/developer/producer.

Some of the following examples are going to sound extreme, and I don’t want to give the impression that every project is filled with objectionable, harmful, short-sighted material you have to fight back against. But I can’t pretend it never happens, and obviously it’s when the stakes are highest that this is both the most important, and the most nerve-wracking.

Also, I am aware of my own shortcomings enough to know I don;t always see the ways in which material can be harmful. So if you are writing for me, and you have concerns? LET ME KNOW. Push back. Point to this article if you want some back-up. I ASKED you to tell me if I’m requesting bad ideas from you.

As always, I’ll also note that I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Also, I come at this as a writer, developer, and publisher, as those are the kinds of roles I have filled for RPG creation. Artists, graphic designers, editors, and layout artists face similar challenges at least as great, but my advice may not work as well for them.

Try Not To Create Any Surprises

Ideally when working on a project you’ll have access to an outline and a general vision of the project prior to agreeing to write for it, so if you have any concerns you can bring them up early on. For example, if a project’s outline suggests covering topics you don’t feel are appropriate for an RPG, you can discuss that at the beginning with your contact. Even if that means you backing out of the project because you just can’t get on the same page as the publisher, it’s much better for all concerned if you do that early.

If your project is going to involve a lot of discrete bits, it’s worth scanning those for potential trouble spots extremely early in the process. For example if you are asked to do expanded write-ups on six cities, go through the existing material at least briefly as soon as you can. If one of the cities is mired in material you see issues with (whether those are as simple as it having a stupid name or as complex as having an explicit social set-up filled with stereotypes you find harmful), bringing those to your contact as soon as possible both allows everyone plenty of time to try to figure out a solution (while the rest of the project moves forward), and proves you’re taking your responsibilities seriously.

The closer you are to deadline, the less flexible your publisher is likely to be. While that is often because the publisher places money over your concerns, it’s worth remembering they have mouths to feed as well, and people counting on them. That doesn’t excuse making money on harmful material, but it is worth remembering if you’re trying to build a working relationship.

Of course sometimes things develop you could not have foreseen. You may only be contracted to write part of a project, and when you see someone else’s section it’s full of material you have issues with or, worse, it changes the context of your own material in harmful ways. Or you might be shown cover art you dislike so much you don’t want your name associated with it. Or you might get developer feedback that explicitly asks you to alter things in a way you have problems with. The point is that the sooner you can raise a flag, the easier the process is likely to be for all concerned.

There’s A Thing Line Between Asking for Clarification and Passive-Aggressive

A great first step when something from the publisher seems like a bad idea is to ask for clarification. Going back to my series of articles as an example, if a publisher told me to convert *every* missing PF feat from the core rulebook to Starfinder, I’d pretty quickly ask if they meant even feats that refer to rules that don’t exist in Starfinder and already have their basic concept covered, like Exotic Weapon Proficiency. The publisher might come back and agree that some feats don’t need conversion.

However, once I get told that yes, EVERY feat needs to be converted, constantly asking if that’s the case even if the end result is dumb, or even if that means confusing people, or any other objections, I’m moving beyond just asking for clarification. Once you have your answer work with it, for better or worse.

If the answer means you can’t work on a project for personal or ethical or legal reasons, at that point just say so.

Be As Polite As The Situation Allows

Ideally, you’ll always be in a place where you can be polite and considerate to your publisher. If nothing else, with luck you’ll have some idea what kind of material the publisher produces before working for them (or even pitching them ideas) and will have just avoided anyone who is going to ask for things you think are stupid or problematic.

Even just five years ago, I’d have made this advice to ALWAYS be polite. And, honestly, my privileged and luck have meant I have always had that choice (though I haven’t always used it, to my regret). But I have seen other writers put in situations where I confess, polite might not convey how serious an objection is.

I strongly recommend defaulting to as polite as you think you can possibly be, and reserving more stringent language and complaints for serious legal or ethical objections, but that has to be your call.

Explain Your Concerns

Saying “this piece of art is terrible” isn’t helpful to a publisher. Be as specific, and as nonjudgmental, as the situation allows for. Does the art depict the 8-armed Klyzon species as having 6 arms? Are the colors so muted and fuzzy that from 2 feet back it just looks like mud? Does the Klyzon look EXACTLY like a character from the Trek Wars animated series? It it’s tattoo of a symbol with real-world religious or political meaning? Is the Klyzon man a horrific monster in full armor, and the Klyzon woman a near-human with tiny horns wearing sexualized attire?

Specific details on what is your concern, and why it concerns you, helps move quickly to seeing if improvements or resolution can be found.

If there is a broader social issue in play, it may help to link to resources education on that issue. Yes, this is asking you to do extra work, and that’s both unfair and not your ethical duty. I offer the suggestion because I have found it effective, but you have to decide how much effort you’re willing to put into any issue.

Offer Solutions

If you can think of an easy way to address your concern, pitch it. Publishers love solutions to problems, especially compared to problems they have to spend time working on themselves.

In fact if approving your solution is less work than figuring out some way to get what the publisher originally asked for, the publisher may just agree to save time and effort.

Try To Do It All At Once

This isn’t always an option, but a publisher can much more easily deal with a unified, concise list of 7 issues with a project, than getting a new issues brought up 7 different times during production.

Pick Your Battles

There’s nothing wrong with noting you think a sketch of a monster you are writing up is too goofy to convey the theme of menace and fear you have been asked to write… but that’s also not something I’d ever take beyond the bringing-it-up stage. The publisher has people they trust to make publication decisions, and they are unlikely to take your freelance opinion over that of their staff or trusted contract producers.

Even when mentioning concerns, it can be worth it to note when you are just bringing something up for consideration, (and will finish your work as agreed, on time, to a high standard of quality even if nothing changes), and when you think there is a serious issue you need to find clarification on before you can continue, or that you fear may impact the value of your work.

To Thine Own Self Be True

I wish I didn’t even have to cover this, but that’s not the world we live in. Your own sense of ethics, morality, and right and wrong should take precedence over giving a publisher what they want… to whatever degree you decide you’re willing to pay the price for making a stand.

It’d be nice to claim you’ll always be rewarded for doing the right thing but again, that’s not the world we live in. Only you can decide what to do when legal obligations (such as a contract), financial obligations (such as looming rent payments), and moral obligations (such as creating work you think might harm others) aren’t in alignment.

But I don’t personally think advancing your career, or getting one freelance paycheck, is worth feeling you have made the world a worse place. Be honest with yourself, and make the best call you cab.

Don’t Assume The Publisher Is Making a Change Until They Say So

Some freelancers will write in they have a concern, propose a solution, and then immediately continue their writing as if their proposal had been accepted. In some cases this has included things such as saying a topic can’t support 1500 words, so they are going to write 1100 words on it, and 400 words on some new topic.

Don’t. Do. This.

The project outline and remit hasn’t changed until the publish says it’s changed.

Be Clear On Your Position

I never recommend starting with ultimatums or even making threats, but especially once you have voiced a concern, if you are dissatisfied with the publisher’s solution, it’s worth talking about how you would like to proceed.

You may just note you won’t want to take similar projects in the future. You might ask that your name be taken off a project. You might need to ask for extra time because you feel the scope of the project has shifted or requires more research than you expect.

I personally have never, on ethical grounds, backed out of a project without the publisher’s approval once I had signed a contract. But I’m not going to claim there are never circumstances where that might be the moral choice. Myself I’d always finish wordcount and turn a project over by deadline, even if I had to write something that wasn’t exactly what was asked for because I have conscientious objections to what was asked for.

I have asked a publisher if they would approve of my walking away from a contract for various reasons, and had them agree to it. In general, that means I don’t get paid for work already done (which the publisher then cannot use), and that’s often the cost of doing business.

Don’t Freak Out

As a socially awkward introvert with depression, I know it can be overwhelming to tell a publisher you think they need to change their concept. But it happens, and most publishers are used to it, and many even appreciate it. By being prompt, polite, and specific, you can generally get a dialog going on issues without having to take on a huge emotional burden.

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