Developing to Spec: Part 21d (Finding Design Space)

This is the fourth section of Part 21 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.

So here we are at the last post of the next-to-last week of this season-long project. There are still some real problem feats in front of us, but today won’t be too bad.

And it starts with Spirited Charge.

In PF, Spirited Charge helps charge-based characgers keep up with damage-per-round (DPR), since a major factor of  DPR is getting multiple attacks per round and you (generally) can’t do that with a charge. However, in Starfinder, the primary way DPR increases is through bigger weapon damage dice and Weapon Specialization. So a damage multiple would be, to put it simply, broken as heck.

However, charging has big drawbacks in Starfinder, in the form of penalties to attack and AC. That gives us some design space, if we are clever and careful. We can mitigate those… but we need to keep an eye on other abilities that do this. For example, the uplifted bear’s ferocious charge and the soldier’s blitz fighting style already negate the normal penalties to attack rolls and AC. Since people playing an uplifted bear blitz solider are likely among those most interested in a Spirited Charge feat. (And, by the way, I want to play an uplifted bear blitz soldier now… )

Oh lawd, you be comin’.
Benefit: When you charge, you can attempt a trip combat maneuver in place of the normal melee attack. In addition, you can charge without taking the normal charge penalties to attack rolls or AC. If you have another ability that allows you to charge without taking these penalties (such as the charge attack ability from the soldier’s blitz fighting style or an uplifted bear’s ferocious charge), you gain the ability to charge through difficult terrain. If you already have the ability to charge through difficult terrain (such as from being an uplifted bear with the blitz fighting style), you can charge even if you do not have a clear path directly to your target (running around obstacles, for example), and if the space adjacent to the target that is nearest your starting space is blocked or occupied, you can charge to the closest available adjacent space.

That brings us to Stealthy. Like all our PF +2-to-2-skills feats, this needs a total conceptual rewrite. Luckily, reading through terms like “Hide” and “Stealth” in a pdf of the rulebook gives us lots of places we can grab some design space.

You can always find a way to avoid detection.
Benefit: You can attempt to make a Stealth check without cover or concealment. Doing so applies a -20 penalty to your Stealth check. This is cumulative with the penalties for attempting Stealth while moving more than half your speed.
Additionally, if you are using Stealth and you would be detected by a sensor or spell (such as detect thoughts) from a creature that is not currently observing you with a primary sense. This acts as nondetection, but the DC for those attempting to detect you is 11 + ranks in Stealth + any insight bonus you have to Stealth.

This design took some careful consideration. Since it’s already a -10 to make a Stealth check after a successful Bluff check, it needs to be harder to make Stealth with no cover or concealment at all. This is mostly only useful for sneaking past low-level threats… but that often includes things like guard animals and patrols. And besides, the chance to duck other ways of being detected is a nice back-up for nonmagic sneaks who should have SOME change to have trained in ways to avoid cameras and crystal balls.

Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that 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 January 24, 2020, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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