Greater Partial Effects for Starfinder “Save Negates” Spells

As discussed yesterday in the article “Greater Combat Maneuvers for Starfinder,” there’s very little as frustrating for a player than to take their whole turn and have absolutely no impact on a conflict. Obviously in addition to combat maneuvers, which are much more difficult to succeed with than other attacks, the same frustration can be felt by spellscasters using spells that have no effect if their target succeeds at a saving throw. In many ways that is additionally frustration, because a limited resource has been expended.

On the other hand, boosting the power of spellcasters is an extremely tricky balancing act. Numerous “save: negates” spell can incapacitate a target with a single bad saving throw, and making them more effective (and thus less of a gamble for the spellcaster using them) can easily swing them from underpowered to overpowered. Further, we need to make sure that we don’t boost the power of lower-level and large-area spells by too much on a failed save, since if they retain a high degree of utility higher-level spellcasters end up with both high-level spells that work as originally designed, and a backup of more-useful low-level spells.

So, the following feat is designed to allow spellcasters to get SOME utility from save: negates spells, while carefully costing them some of their other options when casting them, and ensuring lower-level spells don’t become overpowered in higher-level games. If a GM finds spellcasters are simply all underpowered in their games, they could just make this a universal rule that applies to all spellcasters.

And again, if anyone has questions about the why of the design choices for spellcasters in Starfinder, that’s the sort of thing I am happy to discuss when patrons ask about it on my Patreon.

Greater Partial Effect

You can take time to weave more complex spells, which have a partial effect even on targets that resist them.
Prerequisites: Caster level 1
Benefit: When you cast a spell with a casting time of 1 standard action that affects only one target, and the spell is listed as having no effect if the target makes its saving throw, you can choose to cast the spell as a full-round action. If you do so, and the target succeeds at its saving throw and the spell would normally thus have no effect, the spell instead as a minor partial effect for 1 round. The partial effect is based on the target’s CR compared to the spell level of the spell you cast, as noted below.

Target CR is Equal To or Lower Than Spell Level: Target is Sickened for 1 round.

Target CR is Above Spell Level, Below x2 Spell Level: Target is Flat-Footed for 1 round.

Target CR is Above x2 Spell Level, Below x3 Spell Level: Target is Off-Target for 1 round.

Target CR is x3 Spell Level or Greater: Target is Dazzled for 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 July 7, 2021, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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