Developing to Spec: Part 15b – Better Combat Without Higher Bonus Maximums

This is the second section of Part Fifteen 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’re going through the Greater feats at the moment, and that brings us to Greater Shield Focus, which has Shield Focus as a prerequisite. It’s obvious why there are no such feats in the Starfidner core rulebook–it has no real shields. But the COM adds shields, and special rules for shields, and still doesn’t add Shield Focus or Greater Shield Focus. That suggests the math behind Starfinder’s shield bonuses is too tight to allow a feat to simply increase it.

So, once again, we need to find a way to make a combat option good enough to be worth spending a feat on, without having it increase the maximum bonus a character can take. Worse, we have to do it twice–once for Shield Focus, and once for the greater version.

Reading the special shield rules in COM, we run into the action economy rules needed to get maximum bonus from such equipment, That gives us a thin area of potential game design space–not to increase the maximum bonus a character can get from shields, but to make it easier to get that bonus quickly in in a wider range of circumstances.

You are a master of fighting with a shield.
Prerequisites: Shield proficiency, Shield Focus.
Benefit: When wielding a shield, you are always considered to have aligned it against attacks of opportunity made by foes you are observing (see States of Awareness in Chapter 8 of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game). Additionally when you align a shield against a foe, you gain the benefit of doing so against all foes you are observing.

You are skilled at fighting with a shield.
Prerequisites: Shield proficiency.
Benefit: When you take a move action to move your speed, you can pull a shield out from storage or put one away. If already wielding a shield, you can alternatively align a shield you are wielding against a foe as part of a such as move action.
Normal: Pulling a shield from storage, putting one away, or aligning it against a foe are each their own move action.

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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 December 11, 2019, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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