Developing to Spec: Part 22a (Beginning of the End)

This is the first section of Part 22 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 in the last week of the feat-conversion part of this project. Next week I’ll likely talk about supplemental material I’d recommend putting in a book that includes these conversions (and which I DO plan on putting in the book I compile at the end of this), but the actual feats will all be done by Friday’s post.

But for now, let’s look at Stunning Fist.

Stunning Fist is a little surprising as a PF to Starfinder conversion subject because… it doesn’t need any changes. I mean, we need to remove language about monks (that’s class-specific stuff, and we shouldn’t port it automatically to any Starfinder class–if someone wants to give a Starfinder class special Stunning Fist powers, they can mention it as a class ability rather than have us preload that into the feat), but otherwise it works fine as-is.

Which is weird. I mean if it works perfectly well in Starfinder, why hasn’t anyone converted it before. (Why the heck didn’t *I* include it when I was doing the first draft of the Starfinder core rulebook feat chapter?) I can only assume it was considered too goofy for a science-fantasy game to include people using a bare fist to stun someone in powered armor. But the feat already requires you to actually damage your foe, and if you are getting damage through the powered armor (maybe using the edge of a shield, now that those exist and some can deliver unarmed strikes) there doesn’t seem to be any reason you couldn’t deliver a nerve-strike type ability to them.

While there’s nothing we *have* to change, there are a few things worth tweaking. First, having a high Dexterity and high Wisdom isn’t really directly tied to stunning things, so in keeping with the lower prerequisites common for Starfinder feats, we’ll cut those. Second, the PF Stunning Fist includes a lot of the rules in the feat (what being stunned means, when someone recovers from an ability with a duration of 1 round), and Starfinder doesn’t normally do that either.

In fact I considered if this feat was under-powered, since it’s a melee option in a game of jetpacks and ray guns. But there are way to do ranged unarmed strikes, and stunning someone is still a pretty good condition to apply. I also considered if this should require Resolve points to use, but since it felt like it might be underpowered, decided to leave it with its own uses per day to compensate.

Interestingly I suspect most PF players consider Stunning Fist to be a low-level ability because they only see it with monks, who get it at first. Minus monks, this becomes a mid-level power without needing to change any crucial elements of the text.

You know just where to strike to temporarily stun a foe.
Prerequisites: Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +8.
Benefit: You must declare that you are using this feat before you make your attack roll (thus, a failed attack roll ruins the attempt). Stunning Fist forces a foe damaged by your unarmed attack to make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your key ability score modifier), in addition to dealing damage normally. A defender who fails this saving throw is stunned for 1 round. You may attempt a stunning attack once per day for every four levels you have attained, and no more than once per round. Constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to critical hits cannot be stunned.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Tower Shield Proficiency, which is another PF feat that does something that isn’t relevant in Starfinder, because Starfinder doesn’t have “Tower Shields.” But it does have riot shields, so maybe we can do something with that.

You can get the most out of the biggest shields.
Prerequisites: Shield Proficiency.
Benefit: You reduce the armor check penalty of any shield you use by one (to a minimum of 0). You can make unarmed strikes with riot shields. These unarmed strikes are not considered archaic.

The biggest part of that is allowing the unarmed strikes with a class of shield that doesn’t normally, but since there are rules for shields that allow unarmed strikes in COM, that should work fine.

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 28, 2020, in Pathfinder Development, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: