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.

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).

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. 🙂

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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 14, 2019, in Business of Games, Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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