Developing to Spec: Part 17c – The UnFamiliar

This is the third section of Part Seventeen 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 well into the long list of “Improved” feats and we’ve hit a big one — Improved Familiar. This is important in a couple of ways. First, people tend to be strongly connected to their familiars, meaning they have strong feelings about the rules that define and control them. Secondly, Starfinder doesn’t have familiars, making an Improved version of the concept difficult to implement quickly or easily.

Luckily, Starfinder does have rules for Creature companions, as of Alien Archive 3. The feat chain that allow you to control and gain actiosn with your creature companion are obviously very carefully balanced so we don’t want to impact what actions are possible, but we can add more familiar-like options without impacting that element.

We could add spellcasting ability to this feat’s prerequisites, or limit the feat to working with Tiny or smaller creatures, but honestly why? Starfinder has a more flexible feat system with fewer prerequisites and more open character concepts, so if someone wants to play a mind-blind human soldier who happens to have a laser-world familiar, let’s allow it.

You have a strong supernatural link to a single creature, known as your familiar.
Prerequisites: Creature Companion Adept, Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: Select a single creature companion of yours. You gain limited telepathy with this creature with a range of 60 feet and are considered to share a language with it (if you already have full telepathy, instead your creature companion gains the ability to understand and speak one language you know of your choice). You double the range at which you can control your creature companion. You also gain an empathic link with your familiar, allowing you to share general emotions with a range of up to 1 mile.

Your familiar gains evasion, as the operative special ability. If you are 7th level or higher, it gains improved evasion. If you are 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for you. If you and the familiar are in contact at the time you cast a touch spell, you can designate the familiar as the spell’s “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as you would. As usual, if you cast another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates. If you are 11th level or higher, your familiar gains spell resistance equal to your level + 5.

You can change what creature is selected as your familiar with 1 full day of quiet meditation with a new creature companion.

That brings us to Improved Precise Shot, which has the not-in-Starfinder-yet Point-Blank Shot and Precise Shot as prerequisites. So, we need to write those up first.

Point-Blank Shot would work fine in Starfinder as far as the rules are concerned… but again throwing around unlimited attack bonuses with feats the Starfinder designers could have put in the game is likely to unbalance the game’s combat math. On the other hand, ranged weapons obviously have a big advantage in combat when you use them from far away with cover. So we probably can use a Point-Blank Shot feat to give some bonuses when you sacrifice that advantage, as long as we do so cautiously. And since we are asking a player to risk an attack of opportunity, let’s add some mechanics addressing that to the feat.

You are an expert at the close-quarters use of ranged weapon.
Prerequisites: Dex 15+
Benefit: The first time each round you make a ranged attack against an adjacent target and it makes an attack of opportunity against you, you gain a +2 bonus to your AC against that attack. If the target cannot or does not choose to take its attack of opportunity, you instead gain a +1 bonus to your attack roll.

That means we’re free to wrap up the week with Precise Shot and Improved Precise Shot tomorrow.

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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 26, 2019, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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