Category Archives: Pathfinder Development

Developing to Spec: Part 22a (Beginning of the End)

This is the first section of Part 22 of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

We’re in the last week of the feat-conversion part of this project. Next week I’ll likely talk about supplemental material I’d recommend putting in a book that includes these conversions (and which I DO plan on putting in the book I compile at the end of this), but the actual feats will all be done by Friday’s post.

But for now, let’s look at Stunning Fist.

Stunning Fist is a little surprising as a PF to Starfinder conversion subject because… it doesn’t need any changes. I mean, we need to remove language about monks (that’s class-specific stuff, and we shouldn’t port it automatically to any Starfinder class–if someone wants to give a Starfinder class special Stunning Fist powers, they can mention it as a class ability rather than have us preload that into the feat), but otherwise it works fine as-is.

Which is weird. I mean if it works perfectly well in Starfinder, why hasn’t anyone converted it before. (Why the heck didn’t *I* include it when I was doing the first draft of the Starfinder core rulebook feat chapter?) I can only assume it was considered too goofy for a science-fantasy game to include people using a bare fist to stun someone in powered armor. But the feat already requires you to actually damage your foe, and if you are getting damage through the powered armor (maybe using the edge of a shield, now that those exist and some can deliver unarmed strikes) there doesn’t seem to be any reason you couldn’t deliver a nerve-strike type ability to them.

While there’s nothing we *have* to change, there are a few things worth tweaking. First, having a high Dexterity and high Wisdom isn’t really directly tied to stunning things, so in keeping with the lower prerequisites common for Starfinder feats, we’ll cut those. Second, the PF Stunning Fist includes a lot of the rules in the feat (what being stunned means, when someone recovers from an ability with a duration of 1 round), and Starfinder doesn’t normally do that either.

In fact I considered if this feat was under-powered, since it’s a melee option in a game of jetpacks and ray guns. But there are way to do ranged unarmed strikes, and stunning someone is still a pretty good condition to apply. I also considered if this should require Resolve points to use, but since it felt like it might be underpowered, decided to leave it with its own uses per day to compensate.

Interestingly I suspect most PF players consider Stunning Fist to be a low-level ability because they only see it with monks, who get it at first. Minus monks, this becomes a mid-level power without needing to change any crucial elements of the text.

STUNNING FIST(Combat)
You know just where to strike to temporarily stun a foe.
Prerequisites: Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +8.
Benefit: You must declare that you are using this feat before you make your attack roll (thus, a failed attack roll ruins the attempt). Stunning Fist forces a foe damaged by your unarmed attack to make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your key ability score modifier), in addition to dealing damage normally. A defender who fails this saving throw is stunned for 1 round. You may attempt a stunning attack once per day for every four levels you have attained, and no more than once per round. Constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to critical hits cannot be stunned.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Tower Shield Proficiency, which is another PF feat that does something that isn’t relevant in Starfinder, because Starfinder doesn’t have “Tower Shields.” But it does have riot shields, so maybe we can do something with that.

TOWER SHIELD PROFICIENCY (Combat)
You can get the most out of the biggest shields.
Prerequisites: Shield Proficiency.
Benefit: You reduce the armor check penalty of any shield you use by one (to a minimum of 0). You can make unarmed strikes with riot shields. These unarmed strikes are not considered archaic.

The biggest part of that is allowing the unarmed strikes with a class of shield that doesn’t normally, but since there are rules for shields that allow unarmed strikes in COM, that should work fine.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

d20 Design Diary (Part 5)

This is the fifth in my series of class-focused d20 Design Diaries. I suspect I only have a couple more posts to go on this topic, but we’ll see how the topics actually shake out (and what kind of feedback I get).

If you followed class design steps in the order I have written about them, there’s one big step left to actually creating your class, even after you settle on an appropriate and interesting concept, set up the right class progression tools, made sure you are following (or at least only breaking by intent rather than by accident) the game’s style and etiquette, and looked at how many options you want for each level of your class and how that impacts complexity.

You still need to design the actual class features, the special abilities you class gets that (at least mostly) others don’t.

I mean, technically you don’t HAVE to give a class features beyond it’s progressions. If you gave a Starfinder class 10 SP and HP/level, all good saving throws, 12 skill points + Int/level, any key ability score, all class skills and weapon and armor proficiencies (and Weapon Specialization as appropriate), and a full attack bonus, it would honestly probably be pretty balanced with no other class features at all.

It would also be boring and flavorless as heck. And I have no idea what concept you’d start with that would lead you to that design. but yes, it COULD be done.

And that does touch on an important element of designing interesting and balanced classes — the more useful things the class gets outside its class features, the less room you have to make its class features useful without making the class overpowered. A 5e barbarian has d12 hit dice, and 2 skill proficiencies (selecting from 6 options) and 5 weapon and armor proficiencies. A fighter has d10 hit dice, and 2 skill proficiencies (selecting from 8 options) and 6 weapon and armor proficiencies. A rogue has d8 hit dice, and 4 skill proficiencies (selecting from 11 options), one tool proficiency, and 2.5 weapon and armor proficiencies. It’s not hard to see that while their proficinecy starting points are different, when combined with their hit dice they all come out on a fairly even playing field, allowing their classes to have equally-useful class features.

One of the biggest and most impactful potential class features is spellcasting. Assuming you are building classes for a game that already has a full set of classes you can use as examples, it’s normally best to stick to the spell progression and acquisition schemes that already exist, unless you feel it’s a severely underdeveloped design space. (Classes with some number of spell-like abilities are a different matter than the spellcasting class feature we are discussing in this article.)

For example, first edition Pathfinder has both spontaneous and prepared spellcasting acquisition, as well as spell lists that go from 1st-4th level, 0-4th level, 0-6th level, and 0-9th level. However, every spontaneous class in Pathfinder with access to a 0-6th level spell list has the same base access to spells known and spell slots per day (though OTHER class features, such as domains or archetypes, can vary their total beyond the simple base). Starfinder, on the other hand, *only* has spontaneous spellcasters with access to 0-6th level spells. While adding a whole new spell progression or access to Pathfinder would likely muddle a crowded field, there’s easily room in Starfinder for class with reduced spell access (perhaps level 0-3 spells).

Wizard with Green Disk Spell

The more spell power a class has, the less room it has for any other options. For example, in all the most popular d20 games classes with the greatest spell access never have the highest Hit Point/health value of classes, or beginning proficiency with all types of armor. This has two significant impacts on their design. First, it means that they generally need to use some of their spell power to bring their defenses up to their best level and, even at that level, it’s generally not as good as the best defenses of the most defense-focused class. Secondly, it means they aren’t as durable without depending on their spells (and even then some classes with major spell access have very little in the way of healing or damage mitigation spells — a 1st edition Pathfinder cleric can heal themselves much more easily than a wizard).

Again, using other classes as benchmarks can be extremely useful for making your first stab at granting spellcasting to a class. In 5th edition D&D, paladins and rangers gain up to 5th level spells, clerics and wizards gain up to 10th level spells, and specific specializations of fighters and rogues get up to 4th level spells. Those benchmarks make it pretty easy to see what kinds of class features, both in terms of scope and utility, a class with each of those options can gain. For example, a great deal of the class features of sorcerers and wizards are focused on their spells–allowing them to be more flexible, used more often, or even just boosted in power. Paladins and rangers however, have very few spell-focused class features, with their class features more likely to actually give them entirely new abilities.

Even once you know how your spellcasting class is going to acquire spells and to what degree, there still another crucial question–what spell list do they use?

We’ll tackle that one next week.

PATREON

These Design Diaries are among the most popular of the things I wrote, but they are also the biggest, hardest, and most time-consuming to create. If you want to keep seeing them, I encourage you to join my Patreon. Just a few dollars a month can make the difference between me having the time to tackle these larger, in-depth design articles, and sticking to shorter, simpler topics.

Developing to Spec: Part 21d (Finding Design Space)

This is the fourth section of Part 21 of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

So here we are at the last post of the next-to-last week of this season-long project. There are still some real problem feats in front of us, but today won’t be too bad.

And it starts with Spirited Charge.

In PF, Spirited Charge helps charge-based characgers keep up with damage-per-round (DPR), since a major factor of  DPR is getting multiple attacks per round and you (generally) can’t do that with a charge. However, in Starfinder, the primary way DPR increases is through bigger weapon damage dice and Weapon Specialization. So a damage multiple would be, to put it simply, broken as heck.

However, charging has big drawbacks in Starfinder, in the form of penalties to attack and AC. That gives us some design space, if we are clever and careful. We can mitigate those… but we need to keep an eye on other abilities that do this. For example, the uplifted bear’s ferocious charge and the soldier’s blitz fighting style already negate the normal penalties to attack rolls and AC. Since people playing an uplifted bear blitz solider are likely among those most interested in a Spirited Charge feat. (And, by the way, I want to play an uplifted bear blitz soldier now… )

SPIRITED CHARGE (Combat)
Oh lawd, you be comin’.
Benefit: When you charge, you can attempt a trip combat maneuver in place of the normal melee attack. In addition, you can charge without taking the normal charge penalties to attack rolls or AC. If you have another ability that allows you to charge without taking these penalties (such as the charge attack ability from the soldier’s blitz fighting style or an uplifted bear’s ferocious charge), you gain the ability to charge through difficult terrain. If you already have the ability to charge through difficult terrain (such as from being an uplifted bear with the blitz fighting style), you can charge even if you do not have a clear path directly to your target (running around obstacles, for example), and if the space adjacent to the target that is nearest your starting space is blocked or occupied, you can charge to the closest available adjacent space.

That brings us to Stealthy. Like all our PF +2-to-2-skills feats, this needs a total conceptual rewrite. Luckily, reading through terms like “Hide” and “Stealth” in a pdf of the rulebook gives us lots of places we can grab some design space.

STEALTHY
You can always find a way to avoid detection.
Benefit: You can attempt to make a Stealth check without cover or concealment. Doing so applies a -20 penalty to your Stealth check. This is cumulative with the penalties for attempting Stealth while moving more than half your speed.
Additionally, if you are using Stealth and you would be detected by a sensor or spell (such as detect thoughts) from a creature that is not currently observing you with a primary sense. This acts as nondetection, but the DC for those attempting to detect you is 11 + ranks in Stealth + any insight bonus you have to Stealth.

This design took some careful consideration. Since it’s already a -10 to make a Stealth check after a successful Bluff check, it needs to be harder to make Stealth with no cover or concealment at all. This is mostly only useful for sneaking past low-level threats… but that often includes things like guard animals and patrols. And besides, the chance to duck other ways of being detected is a nice back-up for nonmagic sneaks who should have SOME change to have trained in ways to avoid cameras and crystal balls.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

Developing to Spec: Part 21c (One pro-spell feat, one anti-spell feat)

This is the third section of Part 21 of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

We’re up to Spell Mastery, which once again references a rules element in PF (preparing spells) that does not exist in Starfinder (where all spellcasters are spontaneous). But it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something spells related that matches the feel of the feat’s name and is useful for spellcasters.

SPELL MASTERY
Some spells you have learned to use in place of your normal repertoire.
Prerequisites: Spells class feature.
Benefit: For each spell level you can cast as a result of the spells class feature, select one spell from your class spell list that you do not have as a spell known. When you regain your spells per day, you may swap out one of your spells known at each level for a Spell Mastery spell of the same spell level. This lasts until you next regain your spells per day.
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Each time it is selected, you choose another spell for each level of spells you can cast which you can temporarily gain in place of a spell known when you regain your spells per day.

On to Spellbreaker… which is designed to work with the PF rule that if you cast a spell it provokes an attack of opportunity unless you cast it defensively, which is not a thing in Starfinder. But the core idea that your melee attacks make it harder for a creature to cast spells is something we can work with.

SPELLBREAKER (Combat)
You know how to hit spellcasters where it hurts.
Prerequisites: Base attack bonus +5.
Benefit: When you make a melee attack against a creature you may choose to take a -4 penalty to the attack roll to make it a spellbreaker attack. If you attack hits and damages the target, it must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + your key ability modifier +1/2 your base attack bonus) or be unable to cast spells or use spell-like abilities for 1 round.

That attack penalty is enough to ensure characters are unlike to combine this with other difficult attack options (such as a full attack action), and in fact will likely want to use this as part of a team effort to give them enough bonuses to be able to hit (with flanking, Get ‘Em, and similar options taken by other characters in an effort to help), but since no extra resource is used the players are free to try that any time.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

Developing to Spec: Part 21b (Troublesome, Archaic Feats)

This is the second section of Part 21 of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written, and I have time over the holidays to update the list) here.

So, here’s something I have been dreading. Of all the feats I do not have an obvious starting point in my head on how to make a Starfinder version, this is the top of the list. And it’s because it is SO simple, and basic, and unneeded in Starfinder.

Simple Weapon Proficiency.

Not only does Starfiner not have simple weapons, the things that might be considered simple weapons (such as basic melee weapons) all classes already have proficiency with. Unlike PF, no class has a list of individual weapons it is proficient with. Every class gets at LEAST basic melee and small arms.

We had similar issues with Exotic Weapon Proficiency and Martial Weapon Proficiency, but at least the names of those feats gave us a sliver of conceptual design space we could latch onto. Simple weapons? Not so much. Any PC is going to have all “simple” weapons anyway. So, maybe this isn’t a feat to make Player Characters better?

You want laser wolves with buzzblades? Because this is how you get laser wolves with buzzblades.

SIMPLE WEAPON PROFICIENCY (COMBAT)
You have trained your companion to use the most basic of weapons.
Prerequisites: You have a creature companion
Benefit: Your creature companion is proficiency with one-handed basic and advanced melee weapons, and small arms–but only those 2 or more item levels below your character level. Being proficient with weapons does not automatically allow a companion to physically use the weapon. Unless a GM decides otherwise, a companion must have a special control interface made to use such a weapon, at a cost of 20% of the weapons base cost.

That brings us to Snatch Arrows which, again, is pretty niche. But in PF Snatch Arrows plays off Deflect Arrows, and we built tat feat, so…

SNATCH ARROWS (COMBAT)
You can pluck slow-moving projectiles out of the air and fling them back at their source.
Prerequisites: Dex 15, Deflect Arrows.
Benefit: When you choose to have an archaic ranged weapon miss you with Deflect Arrows, you may as a reaction choose to snatch it from the air and hurl it back at the attacker who launched it. It has a range increment for you of 20 feet or its own range increment, whichever is less. You use your thrown attack bonus and Weapon Specialization (if any) to determine the effect of this attack.

Additionally, if a grenade is targeted on an intersection of your space, you may catch that and throw it anywhere you wish as a reaction. You use normal grenade throwing rules for this attack.

It’s still pretty niche, but at least is could lead to an awesome moment or two under exactly the right circumstances. Heck, if you had a friendly grenade-using character, he could launch grenades at you, and you could redirect them, allowing the grenade to make a turn in its attack.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

Developing to Spec: Part 21a (Shield Feats)

This is section one of Part 21 of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints. The point of these is to offer practical examples of how I approach developing and writing supplemental rules for tabletop RPGs. Rather than just blather on about things as I think of them, I go over issues as I encounter them in a real-world example.

This also represents the Beginning of the End. We should have just two more weeks to go before we’ll have gone through and converted every PF Core Rulebook feat that doesn’t already have a Starfinder version. At which point I’ll have to start doing something else for my Tu-Fri posts. So if you have ideas of what you’d like to see, let me know!

We’ve hit two more shield-related feats — Shield Mastery and Shield Slam. These are more entries in a long line of PF feats designed to make attacks with your shield easier and more effective. In Starfinder, since shield attacks in melee use your unarmed attack rules, they are already as effective as any unarmed attack you have (potentially more so, since they are not archaic and may have fusions added to them).

So we need to make the Starfinder versions of both to appeal to characters who want to have more useful shield options in combat, but we can’t increase the actual effectiveness of shield attacks in terms of accuracy or damage (or we risk breaking the game’s combat math). Luckily, there is more to combat than just how well or hard you hit. We can break these up so you take take either on its own, depending on what aspect of shields you wish to improve. We probably *could* get away with not having Shield Focus as a prerequisite to Shield Mastery, but it just feels weird to me for a character to mastery something without having focused on it, and beyond proficiency with shields its the only prerequisite we;re suing, so I’m fine with adding it.

SHIELD MASTERY (Combat)
You and your shield are as one.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with shields, Shield Focus.
Benefit: You reduce the armor check penalty of a shield by 2 (though this can never turn into a bonus). You reduce the bulk of one shield you are carrying or wielding by 2, to a minimum of light bulk.

SHIELD SLAM (Combat)
You are skilled at hitting things with your shield when the opportunity arises.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with shields.
Benefit: When wielding a shield that allows you to make unarmed attacks with it, you can take one attack of opportunity each round to attack with your shield, without expending your reaction. You cannot do this if for any reason you could not have made an attack of opportunity even if you had had a reaction available to do so.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

Design Diary: Creating d20 Classes (Part 4)

Last month we began a line of Design Diary entries discussing how to create a character class from scratch for a d20 class/level based game. We’ve gone over concept, and discussed the class progression tools various games give you to fill out the mechanical roles your class might fill, and begun discussing the etiquette of the presentation of special abilities (the heart of any d20 class).

So, we need to dig into Class Features… and that’s a big topic. So this week we get a big post, that tackles some of the context and frameworks you can use when designing how a class and a character interface with class feature choices.

When looking at what special abilities to give a class, you should consider the category of each ability. Some abilities are access abilities, such as a spellcaster’s access to a spell list (and we’ll talk more about spells and spell lists in a later post) or access to a list of feats. Some are unique powers available only to that class. Some classes (and some game systems) blur that line — Pathfinder 1st edition has fighter-only feat, which some later classes can can access as their own class features. Pathfinder 2nd edition has feats for every class that are unique to that class, except that any other character can pick many of them up by taking a mutliclass dedication feat.

In addition to the access-unique spectrum, class abilities can be divided into static abilities, group abilities, and selectable abilities. Static abilities are things the class gets with no variation or choice (and least without accessing optional or advanced rules). In Starfinder, every operative gets trick attack. Group abilities are things where a player makes a choice between one group of abilities and another, but once that choice is made the abilities it grants are set. Looking at the Starfinder operative again, each operative select one specialization. That specialization has a few abilities it grants over the course of the operative’s career, but once the choice of which specialization to take is made the abilities within that choice are set. Selectable abilities are individual things that can be chosen from a list (though they might have prerequisites). The operatives exploits are a good example of this.

Some of the access choices are things every character class can take some portion of, so when designing a class you need to consider not just what access options help their role within the game and a party, but how that interacts with other classes in the game. Skills are a perfect example of this. Most classes have access to more skills than they can take (whether through a skill-point system, scaling proficiencies, or just what ability score they focus on, depending on how the game system handles classes). If you give a class access to all a game’s skill options, the chances they’ll overlap with some other class that needs a skill more for its core function increases. Even if no one character can take all the skills, adding some limits to what subset they have to choose from can help give a class focus and clarity of purpose.

There are some pseudo-choices a character can offer as well, where every member of the class has the same ability, but characters may be differentiated by which choice they make. For example, all fighters in most d20 game systems have access to all martial weapons, armors, and shields. However, most fighters select a small set of weapons to use most often. Even though two different fighters can both use a greatsword or a longsword and shield, most characters go with one or the other. While that’s a minor difference at first, as the character evolves the other choices they make are likely to reinforce one equipment selection over another.

One of the less-obvious consequences of how you allow ca class to access its abilities is complexity. A character that has access to a wide range of spell choices, for example, is less likely to have lots of selectable abilities. The need to read through and pick spells is already a lot of footwork to ask of a player. (Even if a character ends up with only a small number of spells, the need to pick them from a large list slows and complicates character creation). If you are designing a class to add to an existing game you likely can afford to make the design more complex overall–players who don’t like more work to make their character can stick to existing class options. But if you are designing all the classes designed to be used in a campaign (such as if you are creating new classes that are all that is expected to be available for a campaign setting), you should consider having at least one class that is simpler and has fewer choices, to allow players who prefer simple design an easy entry point.

That’s not universal, of course. Many players prefer highly customizable characters with lots of options. Many just enjoy being able to build a character closer to their pre-existing concept, while others want to have enough flexibility that if another player chooses the same class their two characters act and play differently from one another.

However that plays off another important fact, which we need to discuss before we move on to ability balance–the more selectable options a character class has at a given level, the more potential for min/maxing exists. Even if the options are tied to a set of options that are (theoretically) all at the same power level, the wider the set of options you give access to the more powerful a character can become. For example, if you give a class access to a single specific feat at 5th level, that’s a typical and easily balanced level of power. If you give the character their choice of one of 6 feats, that is slightly more powerful, even if all those feats are perfectly balanced against one another. If you allow a character to take any feat they meet the prerequisites for that is much more powerful, even if you assume every feat in the game is perfectly balanced.

This is because players who achieve a high-degree of system mastery can use synergy between options to make a character that can do more than an off-the-rack build. Especially in games with growing rules additions (which are most games that are seen as “well-supported”), every adjustable class feature is a chance to find some combination that works better than a typical combo. Even if none of the new options are built into you class’s features (a character who has a set of 7 specific feats they can choose from doesn’t have that list automatically expand just because new feats are added to the game, unlike a character with access to all of a type of feat–or one with access to all of one set of spells), a synergy could develop between an old choice and new options any character can access.

There’s no right or wrong choices with these elements, to be clear. They are just things to consider when looking at the ways you can organize and hand out class features.

With all that in mind, we can look at power level of class features and appropriate choices by character level… next time! (Maybe in a week… maybe in 2-3… )

PATREON

These Design Diaries are among the most popular of the things I wrote, but they are also the biggest, hardest, and most time-consuming to create. I was thrilled to be able to really take some time to write and develop this particular entry over a few weeks, thanks to your kind support! If you want to help me keep producing these Design Diaries, I encourage you to join my Patreon. Just a few dollars a month can make the difference between me having the time to tackle these larger, in-depth design articles, and sticking to shorter, simpler topics.

Developing to Spec: Part 20d – Lots of Healing Feats

This is the fourth section of Part Twenty of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written) here.

We’re well into the S feats, with Selective Channel, which requires us to examine one of the consistent differences between PF and Starfinder.

So in PF, when a cleric channels energy, they affect all creatures within range. This can set you up to heal your enemies, which is both both bad tactics and awkward to explain later at Thanksgiving dinner. The Selective Channel feat allows you to choose who you affect, so you can channel to heal allies and skip affecting foes, which is extremely useful.

However our closest analogue to channel energy in Starfinder is the healing channel ability of the mystic’s healer connection… and it already just affects your allies. Man, sometimes it’s like the designers of Starfinder decided to specifically simplify the game and make some of the most popular and common options baked-in to class design. ([MorganFreeman]”They did.”[/MorganFreeman]).

So that use of Selective Channel is out.

Luckily “selective” is a pretty broad term, so all we need is to create a new option for healing channel that involves someone making a choice of some kind.

SELECTIVE CHANNEL
Your allies can help fuel your healing powers.
Prerequisites: Healing channel class feature.
Benefit: When you use your healing channel ability, every ally you heal can choose to donate a Resolve Point to the effort. This decision is made in secret by each ally, then all revealed at once. For every ally that expends a Resolve Point, each healed all may choose to gain an additional 3 Hit Points per mystic level you possess, or 2 Stamina Points per healer level you possess.

That brings us to Self-Sufficient and, yeah, it’s another +2 to two skills feat we need to totally redesign. We can still apply the benefits to Medicine and Survival, but we need to take some liberties to make it a feat a player would consider taking.

SELF-SUFFICIENT
You are an expert at looking out for yourself.
Benefit: When you make a Medicine check with yourself as the only target, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your result. Additionally, anytime you spent Resolve Points to stay in the fight, you may make a Medicine check on yourself for first aid, treat deadly wounds, treat disease, or treat poison without taking an additional action to do so. Additionally, if you make a Survival check with yourself as the only target to endure severe weather or live off the land, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to your result.

PATREON
This series of posts about my specific game writing and development process (along with concrete examples and Starfinder feats) is — like all my blog posts — is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

Developing to Spec: Part 20c – Ride and Run

This is the third section of Part Twenty of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written) here.

We are now at Ride-By Attack and Run. Ride-by Attack as written mostly isn’t needed in Starfinder (assuming you are using the creature companion rules in AA3), because when you ride a mount you gain its movement, which means Spring Attack works with your mounted speed. However, since there are companion riding rules, we can work with them to give some kind of mounted combat bonus.

This begins to push past the number of prerequisites I prefer to have on Starfiner feats given how rarer long prerequisite chains are, but since this is designed to directly work with Spring Attack, we have to list that feat and all its prerequisites.

RIDE-BY ATTACK (Combat)
You and your mount have mastered hit-and-run tactics.
Prerequisites: Dex 15, creature companion, Mobility, Spring Attack, base attack bonus +4.
Benefit: Any round you are riding your companion and make a melee attack, if your companion has only taken one action, it may additionally make a move action.

Run doesn’t do much by Starfinder standards, but we can read the Starfinder rules on running to see if we can punch it up a bit.

RUN
You are able to run quickly and under adverse conditions.
Benefit: When you run as a full action, you can move up to five times your speed in a straight line. You do not gain the flat-footed condition as a result of running, and you can run even if you must cross difficult terrain or can’t see where you’re going. You can run for a number of rounds equal to double your Constitution score.

PATREON
This series of posts about my specific game writing and development process (along with concrete examples and Starfinder feats) is — like all my blog posts — is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!

Developing to Spec: Part 20b – Forms of Rapid

This is the second section of Part Twenty of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can read along as we convert every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  share my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats (as they are written) here.

We hit our first “r” feat, Rapid Reload.

Which is easy to adapt to Starfinder mechanically… but has major power power implications that may not be obvious.

Having to take an action to reload weapons is used to reign in some combat options. Automatic mode attacks, for example, are designed to not be able to be used every round because they use all your remaining ammunition. So if you could reload without taking an action, you could make automatic attacks every round.

But we can boost reload utility without going that far.

RAPID RELOAD (Combat)
You can quickly reload a while while doing other things.
Benefit: When you take an action that does not include making an attack or reloading a weapon, you may additionally reload any one weapon you could reload as a move action. Alternatively, if you take a move action to reload a weapon, you may reload one weapon for every 2 arms you have.

That brings us to Rapid Shot, which has similar issues–it’d be easy enough to allow additional ranged attacks at -2, but it would be extremely unbalancing. PF primarily scales damage output at increasing level by giving characters more and more attacks. Starfinder primarily scales damage output by giving characters more damaging attacks. That means that giving yet another attack on top of whatever else Starfinder gives a character, especially at a mere -2 to attack rolls, would boost a character’s potential damage output well out of scale with any other feat.

Nearly anything that impacts the action economy of making one or more attacks is going to be nearly impossible to balance, especially since some Starfinder official material has already given very minor boosts and we can’t predict how future minor boosts might interact with some very constrained option we create here.

But we can create something that let’s you shoot rapidly without shooting more often.

RAPID SHOT (Combat)
You can get off the first shot with surprising rapidity.
Prerequisites: Improved Initiative
Benefit: When you roll initiative, you can choose to gain a +4 bonus to your check. If you do so, your first round of combat is restricted to drawing weapons and making a single ranged attack roll.

The prerequisite is designed to restrict this feat to characters that can get the most use out of it. Since Improved Initiative gives you a +4 initiative bonus with no restrictions on your first round actions it’s clearly something you should take before getting a second +4 with drawbacks.

PATREON
Like all my blog posts, this is brought to you by the wonderful patrons of my Patreon! Want more of this content? Want to suggest specific game systems, topics, of kinds of articles? All of that is only possible if people join my Patreon, help me have the free time to write these things, and let me know what you want to see!