Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: First Thoughts

It’s been four years since Rogue Genius Games put out the Starfarer’s Compaion, and while I have since that time published codex books for Starfinder versions of the cavalier, dragonrider, godling, gunslinger, and witch, (not to mention the totally-new aeoncarnate and zoomer), I haven’t done any new conversions of classes for a while.

And the itch for a Starfarer’s Companion II is growing stronger, so…

I’m thinking about doing a Starfinder version of the inquisitor. The inquisitor is one of my favorite PF1 classes, and I feel like it has a niche and concept that have not been fully explored yet in Starfinder. So, I’ve been thinking about what a Sf version would look like. Starfinder game design and math are different enough from PF1 that I can’t just juggle the class skills and proficiencies–I need to take the core concepts of the inquisitor, and redesign them to be Starfinder-compatible.

Which immediately means I need to decide what the core concepts of the inquisitor are, so I can create a Starfinder version.

(Art by grandeduc)

It’s a Secondary Fighting Class

Despite having a 2/3 base attack bonus progression, only being proficient with some martial weapons, getting a d8 hp, and not having heavy armor proficiency, the inquisitor is still largely a fighting class. Clerics are already good secondary fighters, and inquisitors are better at the role than clerics. But they aren’t primary weapon combatants, the way barbarians, fighters, paladins, and rangers are. The closest equivalents to this role in Starfinder are the exocortex mechanic and some builds of operative, so I’ll be looking at those for ways to build a secondary fighting class.

It’s a Secondary Casting Class

The inquisitor has the second-best progression for spontaneous spellcasters in PF1, on par with the bard. Now that tops out at 6 level spells, which is the same place Starfinder core spellcasters top out, but since those are the primary spellcasters of Starfinder, the inquisitor needs to be less good than that.

One answer, since PF inquisitors have a max spell level that is 2/3 of the highest spell level in the game (6th level spells vs 9th level spells), would be to give them a max spell level (4th) that is 2/3 of the max level spell in Starfinder (6th). But spells in Starfinder already have another major limiting factor–their core effectivness doesn’t go up with caster level the way most spells do in PF1. For example, a PF1 magic missile spell becomes five times more damaging as the caster gains caster levels, while the Starfinder version of magic missile‘s damage never increases with caster level.

My first-blush thought is that the right answer for a Starfinder inquisitor is to have them gain spells one level lower that a mystic/technimancer of the same character level, and to have fewer spells known and spells/day. That means that straight damaging spells will rarely be the best choice for the inquisitor (and, indeed, we might just not put any on their spell list), but they have access to lower-level utility spells to augment their effectiveness, which sounds right (but will definitely need playtesting).

Here’s my first crack at what I think Starfinder inquisitor spells known per level might look like.

SF Inquisitor Spells Known

Level01st2nd3rd4th5th
1st1
2nd2
3rd3
4th31
5th32
6th43
7th431
8th432
9th433
10th5431
11th5432
12th5433
13th54431
14th55432
15th55433
16th554431
17th555432
18th555433
19th555443
20th555444

Judgement

The judgement class feature is a core part of how inquisitors are effective, so I’ll need some version of that. But rather than limit it to uses per day and giving it a huge boost to effectiveness, I’m more likely to have it take a move action and bring an inquisitor up to the same attack numbers as soldiers and solarions, like how the mechanic’s exocortes does.

Domain/Inquisition

The main customizable class feature (outside weapons and spells) of the PF1 inquisitor is their domain or inquisition. I think inquisitions work much better than domains in PF1, and would be a great name for a selectable class power similar to operative exploits or solider gear boosts. And if two of the early choices are to gain Divine Blessing and Sacred Strike as bonus feats, this can even inject a good deal of divine flavor into the class.

Solo Tactics/Teamwork Feats

It’s no accident that the inquisitor is introduced in PF1 in the same book as teamwork feats, as those feats essentially serve as class features for the cavalier and inquisitor classes (and are only rarely used by PCs outside those class features). It would be possible to introduce teamwork feats to Starfinder (in fact, I’ve done it before), or do something like the “tactics” class feature we added in the cavalier SF class, or maybe a new solution would suggest itself. But one way or another, some form of tactical class feature is going to have be to added.

Cunning Initiative/Detect Alignment/Monster Lore/Stern Gaze

I don’t consider these “core” to the concept of the inquisitor, but they shouldn’t be forgotten either. Some, such as monster lore, would be super-easy to implement as minor class features. Others, such as detect alignment, are things that Starfinder intentionally doesn’t do. All of them should be things a SF inquisitor should be able to feel they can gain something similar one way or another, perhaps as inquisition choices and often modified (such as being able to detect outsiders and alignment subtypes rather than everything’s alignment).

Next Steps

Once I reach this point in a class concept, I like to see how I can space things out on a class advancement table. I like for classes to get something noteworthy at every level, and have what feels like a logical progression pattern, and knowing how often abilities will show up, and at what levels, helps determine how powerful they need to be.

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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 August 6, 2021, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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