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.

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.

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.

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 Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil 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. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on November 12, 2019, in Business of Games, Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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