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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