Fun with Starfinder Damage Benchmarks

So, yesterday I posted a big entry with long lists of tables that gave benchmark damage values for weapons of all types at all item levels in Starfinder, and mentioned there were lots of fun things we could do with a list like that. Here’s one of them.

We can scale weapon damage without having pre-written weapons.

For example, here’s a new version of the hammer fist ability from the soldier’s armor storm fighting style.

Hammer Fist (Ex) – 1st Level
You treat any unarmed attack you make while wearing heavy or powered armor as being made with a battleglove with an item level equal to or lower than your soldier level. Calculate damage for these attacks using the 1-handed basic melee benchmark damage, and adding bonuses as if you had the melee striker gear boost. If you have the melee striker gear boost, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with your unarmed attacks when using this ability. These unarmed attacks don’t benefit from other abilities that apply specifically to unarmed attacks (such as the Improved Unarmed Strike feat).

Scifi hand

(art by photoslaz)

With the core rulebook version of hammer fist, you have long dead levels where your damage with this ability doesn’t keep up. Now it goes to 1d6 at 2nd level and so on, keeping up with relevant weapons you could gain at those levels.

We can now also create class features that allow you to exceed the limits of your weapon’s damage, built on the idea a character *can* get access to an item up to their level +2, without creating some stacking nightmare that could be combined with higher-level gear to break the game.

Let’s say we wanted a Melee Weapon Master archetype, and we wanted them to do more damage with their melee weapon than other folks. The archetype can require to you to focus on an advanced melee weapon type, and then give you advantages with it.

Masterwork Damage (Ex): When using a weapon of your focused type that has an item level no greater than your character level, you may do more damage with it. Find the benchmark damage* matching your advanced melee weapon (KAC or EAC, 1-handed or 2-handed). You deal damage one level above your weapon’s benchmark.
*If your weapon damage dice do not exactly match a listed benchmark, your benchmark damage is considered to be the highest damage dice that have an average result that does not exceed your weapon’s damage dice’s average result. For example, if using a 1-handed EAC advanced melee weapon that does 1d20 damage, your benchmark damage is considered to be 3d6 (average of 10.5), as that is the highest total that does not exceed your weapon’s average (also 10.5). You would thus do 3d8, one benchmark level higher, when using this ability.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue 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.

Posted on June 16, 2020, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hello, I’m someone who is interested in game development, and I was curious what got you into doing game development. I’ve only really played Dungeons and Dragons 5e, and I’m starting to get into Starfinder and saw you on the inside cover of the book. As someone who wants to go into the field that is developing roleplaying games and such, I was wondering if you could explain to me how you started. This is just curiosity, mainly, but I’d really appreciate the help.

    • In many ways I’m not a great example, because my route isn’t really available anymore.
      In the 1990s, I started writing for the print Dragon Magazine. Then in 2000, I got hired by Wizards of the Coast to work on various games of the brand-new d20 System.
      Once I had experience as a designer and developer at WotC, I contacted anyone I could and let them know I was available to do freelance design and development work.
      Nowadays, you are likely better off contacting smaller companies that publish material for games you want to write for (many small publishers use the Open game License for these things. You can select a game at DriveThruRPG.com and see what publishers are producing reent material for it, then search out their contact info online and send them an email.

  1. Pingback: Starfinder weapons design Q&A – Evil Robot Games

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