Design Space: Technomancer mind-affecting spells I

Sometimes a game has rules or options that suggest there are things that should exist, but they don’t. Or at least, they don’t existing in the form or to the degree they should. This is often a sign of a good ‘design space,’ a place where a game seems to need more material designed for it, where the existing rules don’t feel every reasonable iteration of the concept, and where such material won’t feel extraneous or uninteresting.

As a negative example, in PF1 there’s not much design space between a shortsword that does 1d6 damage, and a longsword that does 1d8 damage. There are certainly things you can do (some companies make 7-sided dice, you can add or remove other elements such as cost and weapon traits and proficiency, and so on). So yes, you could make a ‘broadsword’ that cost more than a short sword, and weighed more, and did a d8 damage, but was easier to gain proficiency in than a longsword. But it’ll feel “shoehorned in,” and not be as useful an addition to the game as a weapon with a totally different damage die or some more clear differentiating feature.

A positive example is in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, where technomancers have a magic hack (“robot influence”) that allow them to affect constructs, robots, and other creatures that have the technological subtype, even if they’re mindless or would normally be immune.

Now, think about what mind-affecting spells a technomancer would use that with. … Right. Daze monster doesn’t suck, but it’s not worth a whole magic hack. The problem, of course, is that mind-affecting spells don’t normally feel like they are closely connected to technology. But that’s a conceptual hurdle that can be overcome, and mind-affecting spells are such a broad category that we can design them to feel very different from existing spells that mystics and witchwarpers get.

So, let’s create some! Specifically some low-level, technology and computer culture-inspired mind-affecting technomaner spells!

Check the Comments [Technomancer 1]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration one minute/level
Save Will negates

The target creature announced each action it is about to take before it takes it. If it is aware of a shared language it has with you, it uses that language to make these announcements, otherwise it uses its native language. If it announces an attack or effect that requires a saving throw, any creature that understands its announcement gains a +2 circumstance bonus to their AC or save against that effect. Additionally, if someone who understands the announcements readies an action to be triggered by an action the target announced, the readied action is triggered by the announcement, and thus is resolved before the triggering action. 

Dropped Pixel [Technomancer 1]
School enchantment (mind-affecting)
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration one minute/level
Save Will partial

The target creature cannot maintain any direct observation of you with a precise sense. They can track you with imprecise senses, but whenever they try to determine your exact  location or appearance they find themselves looking away, fixating on an item near you, or similarly not directly observing you. You gain concealment from the target. If the target succeeds at a Will save, the spell’s duration is reduced to 1 round.

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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 February 27, 2020, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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