Developing to Spec: Part 18a –Scary Improv

This is the first section of Part Eighteen 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 finally through the Improvised feats, and that brings us to Improvised Weapon mastery. Looking at it we see the core PF mechanic works, but we also see that Starfinder has a special rule about treating most improvised weapons as clubs. It seems most likely that this feat will be primarily used by operatives who want their spies to be able to grab a coffee mug off an interrogator’s desk and use it to kill someone, so we should look for ways to make this appealing to such characters without being overpowered. Also, even though we wrote up Catch-Off-Guard and Throw Anything, which the PF Improvised Weapon mastery uses as prerequisites, we really don’t need them here.

You are a master of using unexpected weapon.
Prerequisites: Base attack +3.
Benefit: When you use an improvised weapon, you may add your Weapon Specialization damage to it. If it is a weapon you treat as a club, you may also either treat it as not being archaic, or you may treat it as an operative weapon. If it is an improvised weapon the GM determines functions as something other than a club, you do not take the normal -4 to attack rolls for it being an improvised weapon.

That brings us to Intimidating Prowess, which in PF is designed to specifically make it easier for bulky half-orcs to intimidate someone by bending a bar in half. that’s cool, but Starfinder doesn’t generally allow you to add two ability score modifiers to one check, and it has a key ability score system. Why can you only intimidate by being strong? Why not by spinning a dagger on a fingertip, or using Sherlock-like deduction to ask someone how they liked their roast slarn lunch, making them think you have had them under surveillance. Also, if you want to be good at Intimidate in Starfinder, where everyone has at least 4 skill points/level, you ought to make sure it’s a class skill before anything else.

But we can build all that into one fairly simple feat.

You are scary good at being scary.
Prerequisites: Intimidate as a class skill, trained in Intimidate.
Benefits: You may use your key ability score bonus to add to your Intimidate checks, in place of you Charisma bonus. Additionally, if you have fewer ranks in Intimidate than half your character level, use half your character level rather than your ranks to determine your bonus.



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 December 31, 2019, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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