Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Detect Zealotry

More work on creating a Starfinder version of the Inquisitor class from PF1. We’ve decided what is core to the classwritten up a draft of the basics, created a spell list, and written up the adversary codex class feature. It’s time to write-up “detect zealot.”

So, Starfinder doesn’t have the detect evil or know alignment spells, and for good reason. Those spell have looong traditions of being used as shortcuts to bypass critical thinking, empathy, roleplaying, or worldbuilding, and as excuses to kill anything that detects as evil (or whatever other alignment element the player of GM wants to make their nemesis). It doesn’t matter if the spells themselves note things like low-level creatures not having powerful enough auras to ping a spell, or alignment subtypes sticking with creatures even if they change their ethos–the tradition amongst some gaming groups to use those spells and similar abilities as carte blanche to kill npcs is rooted too deeply for subtle changes and context to change how those groups operate.

They can also just kill certain kinds of plotlines in ways that aren’t as much fun as figuring out who the bad guys are through investigation, discussion, and trust or lack thereof.

But, being able to detect alignment is a core power of the PF1 version of the inquisitor, and certainly science-fantasy inquisitors from various franchises often have an ability to detect (and then decry) heretics, daemons, the infected, and so on. Once again, we find ourselves with a legit design goal that is at odds with the game systems best practices.

Time to get creative. This still gives out inquisitor SOME ability to detect alignment forces, but rather than knowing if a creature is evil, you learn if it has the evil subtype or a weapon that deals evil damage. Hopefully that will let inquisitor players feel like they have an advantage in sniffing out the enemies of their ethos, without short-circuiting all interesting plots.

(Art by likozor)

Detect Zealot (Sp): As a move action, you can detect the presence of strong supernatural forces aligned to a specific alignment. This functions as the detect magic spell, except as noted in this ability. Rather than magic, you can detect the presence of the chaotic, evil, good, and lawful subtypes, and of any spell, weapon fusion, or effect that allows an attack to bypass alignment-related DR (such as the anarchic, axiomatic, holy, and unholy weapon fusions). You can only detect a single alignment subtype or damage type (chaotic, evil, good, lawful) at a time. If you detect an alignment subtype in a creature, it must succeed at a Will save (DC 11 + your key ability modifier), or you learn it’s creature type and any subtypes as well. Once a creature has succeeded at a save against this ability, it need not do so again until you gain a new class level.

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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 August 12, 2021, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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