Category Archives: Starfinder Development

The Magic of Little Details

Worldbuilding can often get bogged down in big-picture questions and large-scale issues. Yes, there’s use to knowing how rivers flow from mountains to sea level, what kinds of natural barriers are likely to become borders, and how socio-economic statuses can form political lines. But those questions still just outline nations and factions. At the scale that most players are interacting with your world, it doesn’t really matter in play if the border between Heroton and Badlandia is a river, a mountain range, or a big blue dotted line that runs through a flat plain. What DOES matter to players is how those places feel and act differently while you are within them.

And for that, it’s often useful to throw in just a few little details.

If the common drink for a culturally-interlinked area is a tea just known as Steeps, maybe the people in Heroton like it strong and bitter, while the peasants of Badlandia make it weak and sweetened with honeysuckle. Elves prefer red Steeps, while human throw away the red stems as tasteless. The dwarves of Ironbeard make Steeps with weak beer to ensure no diseases remain in the local water, while the gnomes of Rillridge ferment it until foam forms on the surface which is then skimmed off.

None of that *matters*, but those kinds of tiny details, when used in sparing moderation, can help bring regions and cultures alive. Players who don’t care can wave it off, but those who enjoy engaging in fictional cultures have the option of paying attention, and offering the Big Bad of Badlandia honeysuckle-sweetened Steeps at the peace conference. And maybe he smiles, and notes he actually always preferred it strong and bitter, like his parents made it… suddenly given a new context into his background, based on how he takes his tea.

Nearly anything can be made into this kind of cultural detail and, as long as you don’t load ever city with 27 things you expect players to keep track of. Adding just one or two tiny differences can help immerse players, and make regions distinctive.

Nearly anything can be made into this kind of detail, but it helps if it’s something publicly noticeable (how the Halfling war bakers of Gnabysko bless their battle muffins in secret ceremonies isn’t going to impact player perception much, unless someone is playing a Halfling war baker), minor (so players don’t feel they must remember the detail or get into cultural trouble, which can feel like homework), and relatable (details that tie into activities players understand are more easily understood and remembered—the fact there are 17 “proper” foot stances for fighting with an orroc gutting axe is interesting… but for players with no melee combat training experience it doesn’t connect to anything they’ve done).

You can also build off a detail, creating slang and cultural notes that play off the detail. This can help the detail be memorable, but it also invites the players to dream up such phrases and ideas as well.

For example, let’s say you have decided that in the Free City of Campaign, street performers put out a boot for people to toss coins into, rather than a hat or other collection device. That’s easy to work into a campaign as an observed behavior, unlikely to make any player feel they have to memorize it, and replaces a common occurrence in a way players are likely to understand.

Once you’ve done that, it’s easy to see how some local slang might develop around the tradition. “Giving you the boot” could mean firing someone, so they now have to earn money on the street, while “Earning your boot” might indicate you are good enough at some performance to make a living as a busker. Having a “hole in your boot” could indicate someone is stealing from you, and “looking in the toe” could mean you’re scrounging for every last coin (like checking the cushions of your sofa).

If players show interest in a detail, and explore it, you can build on it. Maybe the boot tradition dates back to when soldier came back from a war, and without enough work used their hard military boots to gather coins as beggars, and the tradition grew from there. Maybe there was a tax on all labor performed ‘without boots” that was designed to exclude hard workers, but street performers used this to get around it. You don’t HAVE to do that kind of background work, but if players dig around it shows they have an interest in that element of your world.

Tiny details like this should be sparing, to ensure a world remains familiar enough for players to be comfortable with it. These are seasoning for the main course of your world, rather than the entrée itself. But used properly, that kind of seasoning can elevate the flavor of your creations, and make them much more memorable.

Putting My Boot Out

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Microfeat: “20”

A microfeat usable in nearly any d20-based game.

Some people will love this feat. Some will hate it. There will be disagreements if it is overpowered, or underpowered, or a feat tax, or shows a quantitative misunderstanding of how any particular d20 game works.

Which is funny, given that a feat in a blog that doesn’t even tie itself to a specific game system is about as unofficial as you can get.

20
Sometimes, things just go your way.
Benefit: Once per game session when you make a d20 roll, after seeing the result, you may immediately decide to instead have the d20 result be treated as a natural 20 (as if the die roll had shown a 20).

Patreon

I have a patreon. 

Some people will love this Patreon. Some will hate it. There will be disagreements if it is a great value, or a terrible value, or shows a quantitative misunderstanding of how crowdfunding works.

 

 

Envoy for Pathfinder

Fantasy Envoy

It’s possible to take the space-faring envoy class, and revise it to work for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Mostly you can ignore the rules tied to the science-fantasy ruleset (Stamina points, 10-minute rests, resolve Points, and so on), and run the character using straight Pathfinder rules. Some universal adjustments are needed (anything that requires a 10-minute break in which you spent 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina instead can be done by taking 10 minutes and spending 1 point from your Envoy Intensity pool, a reaction can be done as a swift or immediate action, ignore rules that refer to spells, equipment, feats, or weapons that do not exist in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, if an envoy effect creates a condition that does not exist in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, apply the same penalties and rules the condition would have applied in the star-faring version of the rules).

For a few features, alternatives must be presented. Each of the items below replaces the envoy feature of the same name. those that do not share names with envoy features note when they are gained and what (if anything) they replace. The following also presents hp, skill, and proficiency rules for the envoy for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules.

Othwerwise, you can use the normal tables and class features of the envoy.

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills: The envoy’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 8 + Intelligence modifier

Proficiencies: The envoy is proficient with light and medium armor, all shields (except tower shields), all simple weapons, and light martial weapons.

Envoy Intensity Pool: The fantasy envoy does not need or use Resolve Points, as they are not a part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Instead at 1st level the envoy gains a Envoy Intensity Pool, with a number of points equal to half the envoy’s class level plus her Charisma bonus. Whenever a class feature calls for the envoy to spend a Resolve Point, she instead spends a point from her Envoy Intensity Pool. This pool is refreshed once a day after 8 hours of rest. At 16th level, she can restore up to two points per day when she succeeds at a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check against a creature that is not friendly to her and has a CR no less than 3 lower than her character level.

Expertise (Ex): You are an expert at dealing with challenges that test your skills, be the challenges social or otherwise. At 1st level, when attempting a Bluff or Sense Motive check, you can roll 1d6 (your expertise die) and add the result of the roll to your check as an insight bonus. You can use this and other expertise abilities as long as you have at least 1 point in your Envoy Intensity Pool. At 5th level, anytime you roll your expertise die, you gain a +1 bonus to the result. At 9th, 17th, and 20th levels, this bonus increases by 1. At 13th level, you roll 1d8 as your expertise die instead of 1d6.

Beginning at 9th level, you have even greater expertise with skills to which you can add your expertise die that you have also selected with the Skill Focus feat. For each such skill, once per day when rolling your expertise die to add to that skill, you may roll the expertise die twice and take the better of the two results.

Additionally whenever you successfully feint a foe (such as with the Bluff skill), you add your expertise die to the damage of your attack. This is considered precision damage, and creatures immune to critical hits or sneak attack are immune to this additional damage.

Skill Expertise (Ex): At 1st level and every 4 levels thereafter, you can use expertise with one additional class skill. You must have at least 1 rank in a skill to select it, and it must come from the following list: Appraise (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (any one) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Weapon Focus (Ex): At 3rd level, you gain Weapon Focus as a bonus feat for any one weapon with which you are proficient. This replaces the Weapon Specialization class feature.

Improvisations

The following improvisations are changed.

1st level

Get ’Em (Ex) [language-dependent, mind-affecting, sense-dependent]

As a move action, you can choose one enemy within 60 feet. Until the start of your next turn, you and your allies gain a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls made against that enemy. The bonus persists even if the enemy moves beyond 60 feet or out of line of sight or hearing.

At 6th level, you can spend 1 Resolve Point to grant this bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls against all enemies who are within 60 feet.

This bonus increases to +2 at 5th level, and by an additional +1 at every 5 envoy levels thereafter.

Inspiring Boost (Ex) [language-dependent, mind-affecting, sense-dependent]

As a standard action, you can signal an ally within 30 feet and grant them a number of temporary hit points equal to twice your envoy level + your Charisma modifier; at 15th level, this increases to three times your envoy level + your Charisma modifier. These last 1 minute per envoy level, or until depleted. Once an ally has benefited from your inspiring boost, that ally can’t gain the benefits of your inspiring boost again for 24 hours, unless you spend 1 point from your envoy Intensity Pool.

At 6th level, you can spend 1 point from your envoy Intensity Pool to add your envoy level to the number of temporary hit points granted.

Look Alive (Ex) [mind-affecting]

All allies within 60 feet of you gain a +2 morale bonus to Perception and initiative checks as long as you are conscious and able to act.

4th Level

Focus (Ex) [mind-affecting, sense-dependent]

This ability can cause an ally to no longer be flat-footed, asleep, confused, or dazed.

Watch Out (Ex) [language-dependent, mind-affecting, sense-dependent]

The ally gains +4 AC and +4 to Reflex saves against the attack,

6th level

Draw Fire (Ex) [sense-dependent]

The foe’s ranged attacks and effects that do not include you suffer -4 to attack rolls and the save DCs are reduced by 2.

Improved Get ’Em (Ex)

Rather than being a +2 bonus, this increases your bonus from get ‘em by 1.

8th Level

Sustained Determination (Ex) [language-dependent, mind-affecting, sense-dependent]

This ability allows the ally to use any ability it would normally need to spend points to use (ki points, grit, panache, magus arcane pool, and so on—nearly any point-based mechanic other than a mythic ability), or use an ability they can use a limited number of times per day (as long as they can use it more than once per day).

Expertise Talents

Cultural Savant (Ex)

You can take 20 on Diplomacy checks to gather information, and Knowledge checks to learn about a creature that has an Int of 3 or greater, in only double the normal time

Engineering Adept (Ex)

You can forgo your expertise die on Craft or Disable Device to half the time of the check. You must be able to apply your expertise die to the skill to use this ability.

Fast Hack (Ex)
This just isn’t available.

Inspired Medic (Ex)

This ability works with Heal checks.

Skilled Linguist (Ex)

You gain an extra language for each rank of Linguistics you have.

Student of Technology (Ex)

You can take 20 on Appraise and Knowledge (engineering) checks in only double the normal time.

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Tech Noir Setting Rules

Tech Noir is a genre that mixes the tropes, themes, and archetypical characters and stories of noir and hard boiled fiction with science-fiction technology and aesthetics. It’s the genre of stories about illegal psychics on the run from a government that wants to put them in internment camps and the one ex-psy-cop who can help them escape; or a missing microchip that can hack any computer and the detective hired by corrupt cops to find it since it’s believed to be somewhere in Neon Town; or the billionaire inheritor of a megacorporation who wants to know why her parents were killed in an aircar accident, and doesn’t know who to trust so she turns to outsiders to solve the crime.

The Starfinder Roleplaying Game isn’t specifically designed to emulate Tech Noir, but if everyone in a group is willing to give the tropes a try, there’s only a few things that need to be adjusted for it to do the job quite well.

Gear

Tech Noir isn’t about killing monsters or taking their stuff, though both those things can happen. It’s about investigating, surviving, exploring themes, and earning experience points. The GM ignores wealth per level, and “treasure” may be as little as 5 credits a day plus expenses. Instead, you get to pick gear at every character level, with some gear getting special rules on how its recovered or recharged.

“Gear,” in this context, is anything that would go in the equipment chapter of the Starfinder Core Ruleook, so cybernetics and such count. You can even take “services” as gear, in which case they count as contacts (and treat “item level” as the npc contact level), but you have to go to them for help (no more often than once per game session)—they aren’t cohorts.

This equipment has a minimum item level of 1, but even at first level it’s important to know which gear fills which slot (since recharge/reuse rules are different).

Armor has no environmental protections, and always looks like typical clothing. Mostly suits and trenchcoats.

*You get one piece of gear of your level+1 or less. If it uses charges or batteries you never run out of supplies for it, though you do need to take time to reload normally, and you can’t use those supplies for any other equipment. If you lose this, it is restored or replaced within 24 hours or as soon as you get back to your base of operations.

*You also get one pieces of gear of your level or less. If it uses charges or batteries you get one spare every time you hit your home base. If you lose this, it is restored or replaced as soon as you get back to your base of operations (but not more often than once per 2 days.)

*You get two pieces of gear of your level -1 or less. If it uses charges or batteries you get one spare every time you hit your home base, no more than once per game session. If you lose these, they are restored or replaced near the beginning of the next game session.

*You get four pieces of gear of your level -3 or less. If you lose these, you’re out of luck until you gain a new character level.

*If you are 5th level or higher, you get four pieces of gear of your level -4 or less. If you lose these, you’re out of luck until you gain a new character level.

Adventures

Tech noir adventures are much more likely to be mysteries than jungle exploration, first contact with new alien species, or raids into ancient dungeons—though tech noir CAN tell those stories, with an additional mystery/drama subplot.

In the first or second session of a new tech noir adventure, the GM should make clear why the mystery or complication of the adventure is. After each successful encounter, the GM must give the PCs a lead. No skill check is needed for this (though additional clues may be available with successful skill checks). The lead is, at minimum, a way to get to another encounter related to the mystery or complication, which in turn leads to another, and so on. After 13 successful encounters, the mystery or complication is solved (by shooting the bad guy and finding his diaries explaining everything, if nothing else). Noir detectives and agents often fumble about most of the story, getting jumped by foes they’ve never met and finding allies suddenly getting cagey for no good reason. By tenaciously pulling through, the noir protagonist eventually uncovers the truth. A tech noir adventure should be set up the same way.

Example of Tech Noir in Fiction
Akira
Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
Brazil
Dark City
Dredd
Gattica
Ghost in the Shell (anime)
Metropolis
Minority Report
Soylent Green

Source of Inspiration
Shadowrun—all forms of this RPG are well suited to draw ideas for magic-infused tech noir.
Garrett Files Series. These books by Glen Cook have no tech, but they combine noir with fantasy in a way that should be inspirational for anyone looking to create Starfinder Noir adventures.

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Fictional Sites for Sci-Fi RPGs

Infosphere Sites

These sites are designed for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, but can be adapted to different sci-fi games as desired.

Each of these sites is popular and powerful enough to exist in the infosphere of hundreds or even thousands of settled worlds. While each planetary infosphere has its own local iteration of these sites, where residents on that planet can interact with it in real time, the offworld sections are regular updated by automatic downloads from the databanks of ships and transmissions from other worlds.

Each site also lists a focus. For every 5 ranks in Computers and Culture a character has (whichever skill they have the most ranks in – you don’t get twice as many foci for having ranks in both), they receive a focus in one infosphere site for free. (A GM may also use inforsphere site focus as benefits for things like themes or story awards.) This represents a strong understanding of how the site works (both technically and in regards to its culture.) Focus with each site gives you a minor bonus when you take specific actions, or allows you to take actions you normally couldn’t. This requires you to have access to the planetary inforsphere, and if the action requires the involvement of people on other planets, its effect is delayed until a ship or transmission  carries the request to and from that world (normally double the time requires for a hyperspace trip.)

Blather: A popular venue for extremely short-form messages (known as “blats”), Blather is used both as a way to have public conversations and to push specific marketing ideas. Many Icons and leaders use Blather as a way to send a message directly to their fans, followers, foes, and the general public.

Focus: You can gather information (as the Diplomacy task) with a Computers or Culture check. The first gather information check you make each day takes no time, as it represents your general knowledge gained from being up to date on Blather.

Chekkit: A distributed messageboard with specific-topic sections (subchekkits) on tens of thousands of topics. Chekkit is largely free of corporate control (though it is owned by a coalition of companies) and is self-moderated by members. This freedom allows it to be used as a populist place for discussion, research, and crowdsourcing obscure questions, but also allows it to be used to promote and organize antisocial, bigoted, fringe, and actively harmful social movements.

Focus: You can attempt Diplomacy and Intimidate checks with individuals connected to an infosphere by driving campaigns of popular opinion in the appropriate subchekkits. This takes a minimum of 1d6 days, and you can’t have more than one pending skill check of this type at a time.

Infopedia: Infopedia is a user-driven repository of information, with articles written by, and edited by, the general public. In general this method produces articles with considerable accuracy, and it often allows subjects that do not draw scholarly notice to be thoroughly covered. However, it is also vulnerable to both accidental and intentional falsification of facts.

Focus: You can take 20 on a skill check for a skill you have no ranks in, even for checks that normally require you to be trained in that skill, but doing so takes twice as long as is normally required to take 20. Additionally, with a Computers or Culture check you can attempt to make a Bluff check to introduce a false piece of information to the search results of a planet’s infosphere. The base DC of this Bluff check is the same as the DC to discover the accurate information. Anyone who researches the question with a skill check result below your total to introduce false information cannot determine which fact is real. If they also fail the original research DC by 5 or more, they accept the false fact you introduce as true. Your skill check may be modified by the same kinds of modifiers that make Bluff checks more difficult, and the effective total of your check goes down by 5 per day as the general public corrects the misinformation.

MyFace: The most popular social media infosphere site through the homeworlds and their allies. Users have profiles with extensive personal information, and generally post thoughts, pictures, and even video of everything from their political beliefs to what they had for breakfast. A powerful tool for keeping in touch with friends who are far away, but also a massive tool for corporate opinion-shaping and data-mining and a growing encroachment into the privacy of everyone, as any public event may be broadly broadcast on MyFace.

Focus: You can disguise your online activity by using a false MyFace account as the sign-in and basis of everything you do. Individuals attempting to figure out who you are must make a Computers check with a DC of 10 + your Computers or Culture bonus, or they are fooled into assigning your online activity to a fake MyFace account. You also gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Diplomacy checks with creatures that you have successfully identified the true MyFace accounts of.

Speaking of Sites…

I have a Patreon, and so does one of my Sponsors, Justin Andrew Mason! He’s the sponsor for this post, so if you want to thank him, go check out HIS Patreon!

I got so excited I even wrote up a fifth, self-referential, site on my Patreon — the fundraising sci-fi site “Sponseor.”

The Cinematic Sci-Fi Timeline

This is a cinematic sci-fi timeline, and effort to create a rich history of advancing technology and the issues, heroes, and morality tales that lead to a moment rich for player character involvement. That moment might be at the end of this progression, or at any point along the way the GM finds interesting.

This isn’t an effort to actually jam all these differing stories into a single continuity, and I am not claiming RUNAWAY is actually the precursor to RoboCop. I am also aware that some of these do have official crossovers (half of then through Dark Horse comics), and I don’t care if I invalidate those either.

Nor am I trying to fit ever science-fiction movie in existence into a single reality. Just a specific subset I feel have some themes and throughlines in common that make for an interesting potential universe.

This is just a thought experiment, designed to place actual inspirations into slots where a pastiche of each *could* form a logical continuous timeline with just a little tweaking.

Each movie includes the year the movie was released, for clarity. No specific set time is suggested for when these movies should occur, but I assume the timeline runs roughly 200 years from 1970 to 2170. The timeline movies forward with each italicized breakdown of how the listed movies represent the events of that point in the timeline.

The Timeline (1970-2070)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The governments of the world come to accept that alien life is real and travelling the stars, but keep the information from the general public.

Terminator (1984)
Crucial moments in the development of the world are impacted by a very small number of time travelers, resulting in multiple, overlapping alternate timelines, proof of some variant of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Carrie (1976)
Firestarter (1984)
The Fury (1978)
Perhaps as a step in evolution, perhaps as a response to the first cases of time travel and alien contact, verifiable psychic phenomenon begin to sporadically manifest. The governments of the world alternate between exploiting and just killing such talents, but needless to say thigns often go poorly.

Predator (1987)
Aliens continue to visit Earth in small numbers and without the public learning, but such visits are not always friendly.

Looker (1981)
As technology advances, the wealthy and powerful begin to realize it can be used to control the lower classes, to focus even more power in the hands of the few.

Runaway (1984)
As society groans under the need to provide for an expanding population and worsening natural resources, autonomous robots become increasingly common in advanced societies. Something they go rouge, and must be put down. Sometimes an increasingly tech-savvy criminal class makes use of them.

Push (2009)
Scanners (1981)
Suspect Zero (2004)
The number of individuals with psychic powers grows, and organizations begin to form to deal with them exclusively.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Predator II (1990)
The pressure on society begins to lead to the collapse of institutions and social norms. As the middle class ceases to exist, the underclass becomes increasingly violent and hard to control. The tiny sliver of the wealthy and powerful, and their increasingly independent corporations, seek to control the masses through any means. This is a rich environment for a small number of alien visitors to exploit conditions for their own amusement or gain.

Red Lights (2012)
Slowly, the scientific community begins to publicly study psychic powers, though skepticism remains high.

RoboCop (1987)
Governments begin to collapse and corporations gain more power. This leads to efforts to have corporate-controlled paramilitary forces, and to use cybernetic technologies to enforce obedience on a soldier-servant class.

Event Horizon (1997)
The strain humanity is putting on Earth is clearly unsustainable. The oligarchs and mega-corporations experiment with ways to spread to other worlds, though their reckless willingness to attempt anything that might succeed leads to horrific failures.

Outland (1981)
Total Recall (1990)
Thanks to advanced in space travel, humanity begin to move to new worlds, though all still within the solar system.

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
The need for cheap labor leads to attempts to uplift other simians. But if we made apes intelligent and independent enough to serve as slave labor, they are intelligent and independent enough to rebel. Such efforts are outlawed.

Furtureworld (1976)
Rollerball (1975)
Solent Green (1973)
Westworld (1973)
The world is in near collapse. The upper classes have literally fantasy worlds to play in with their nearly unlimited wealth, while everyone else fights for scraps and is distracted by death sports. Early cyborg technology begins to advance to primitive androids, though these require fairly regular maintenance and human-augmented control.

(If society does totally collapse, a new timeline forms here, with Damnation Alley, Mad Max, A Boy and His Dog, and so on, eventually reaching Thundarr. Our timeline doesn’t go that route.)

Minority Report (2002)
The existence of psychics is publicly accepted, and they begin to be integrated into the government and corporate efforts to control a growing population that is increasingly dissatisfied and dangerous.

Blade Runner (1982)
The total collapse of human civilization is prevented by creating autonomous androids to serve as the ultimate slave labor force, while humanity begins to truly move to the stars. But only those who are healthy and talented are chosen my megacorporations to be shipped off Earth, and it turns out intelligent and independent android slaves have many of the same issues intelligent and independent ape slaves did.

Alien (1979)
Silent Running (1972)
Robots begin to be replaced by androids in most tasks, though simpler robot technology is more stable. Though some governments have gone to the stars, it is the corporations who have the money and resources to push the boundary of the final frontier. What they find doesn’t always go well for the corporate employees who find it.

Blade Runner 2049
Back on Earth, things still boil (details left out as spoilers for the movie)

Aliens (1986)
Colonization becomes standard, and most android behavior issues are solved. But as humanity’s sphere of influence spreads, so does its interactions with other alien life.

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Spoiler-Free Blade Runner 2049 Thoughts

I saw Blade Runner 2049 with some friends.

I think it does a wonderful job matching the style and world and storytelling style of Blade runner.

This despite doing some things I normally think of as terrible ideas for sequels. But in this case, they were good calls.

I also think it was full of thematic and philosophical nuggets that are more interesting in conjunction and contrast with the original than they would be alone, but going into detail would be spoilers, so I’m not doing that yet.

In any case, I’d be happy to watch Blade Runner 2079 when it’s released in 2052.

Tech of the Magi

An (unofficial, third-party) Starfinder-compatible option for mechanics, which is taken in place of artificial intelligence (thus selected in place of the drone or exocortex).

Tech of the magi represents technological study into the use and manipulation of magic. While other mechanics were focusing on creating a unique technology to calculate and analyze and have conversations as if it was sentient and sapient, you turned to technomancy, integrating the understanding of magic into your understanding of technology.

Your mechanic level adds to your caster level. You can cast a limited number of spells drawn from the technomancer spell list. Your spells known and spells per day are determined by the tables below, and you also gain bonus spells for a high Intelligence score as determined by the Technomancer Bonus Spells table. You can cast your 0-level spells an unlimited number of times per day.

Tech of the Magi Spells Known

Class                Spells per Day
Level               (by Spell Level)
            1          2          3
1
2
3          1
4          1
5          2
6          2          1
7          3          1
8          3          2
9          3          2          1
10        3          3          1
11        3          3          2
12        3          3          2
13        3          3          3
14        3          3          3
15        3          3          3
16        3          3          3
17        3          3          3
18        3          3          3
19        3          3          3
20        3          3          3

Class                Spells Known
Level               (by Spell Level)
            O          1          2          3
1          2
2          2
3          3          2
4          3          2
5          3          3
6          3          3          2
7          3          3          2
8          3          3          3
9          3          3          3          2
10        3          3          3          2
11        3          3          3          3
12        4          3          3          3
13        4          3          3          3
14        4          3          3          3
15        4          4          3          3
16        4          4          3          3
17        4          4          3          3
18        4          4          4          3
19        4          4          4          3
20        4          4          4          4

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Star-Crossed Races: The Vorruk

Continuing the idea of (totally unofficial, third-party) Starfinder-compatible crossbreed races, we present the vorruk. You can go back and find our first twos crossbreed, the aeshun (here) and the lashirren (here).

Vorruk

Vorruk are a genetically engineered blend of the genes of orcs (specifically those than combine naturally with human genes in half-orcs), and vesk woved together and placed in in birthing matrices. While it might theoretically be possible for a vorruk zygote or embryo to be transferred to a mother for gestation and live birth, normally vorruk are engineered, machine-nourished, and watched over in large numbers in artificial wombs. Vorruk were originally bred by drow mercenary companies specifically to create hearty, quick-maturing, capable warriors during a long war that threatened the drow base planet. Those first few generations were the largest vorruk population, though many died during the fighting. When the war suddenly ended, those vorruk already implanted in birthing machines were brought to maturity, but since that time the creation of vorruk has largely been performed in small batches, as labs and weapon dealers seek to improve on the genetype and maturation and training process.

Because most vorruk are raised from birth being told they are living weapons (and nothing more), and the majority of other species only encounters vorruk in battlefield conditions, they have a reputation as simple-minded, amoral, brutal killers. It is certainly true than many vorruk who have known only a life as indentured soldiers often focus on their fighting skills and find anything not related to warfare to be a luxury they cannot afford. Vorruk raised in more nurturing environments are no more brutal or bloodthirsty than any other race, however, and even among those who have lived lives of endless conflict many develop more nuanced ethical and aesthetic perspectives.

Appearance: Vorruk have a basic appearance very similar to half-orcs, but with more pronounced brow ridges, and fine scales (visible only at fairly close range) over their whole bodies. Their coloration focused heavily and reds and greens or more rarely purple, generally in dark shades, and some show striping or spots of darker and lighter colors. They have strong, sharp canines and retractable claws.

Racial Traits

HP: 8

Ability Adjustments: Vorruk are strong and swift, faster than either genetic donor, but can have difficulty grasping deep theoretical concepts. A vorruk gains +2 Str, +2 Dex, and -2 Int.

Size and Type: Vorruk are medium humanoids with the orc and vesk subtypes, and a 40 foot speed.

Vision: Vorruk gain darkvision and low-light vision

Resilient: Once per day, a vorruk that is unconscious but stable can stay in the fight without spending Resolve to do so. (See the rules for death and dying.)

Natural Weapons: Vorruk are always considered armed. They can deal 1d3 lethal slashing or piercing damage with unarmed strikes and the attack doesn’t count as archaic. Vorruk gain a unique weapon specialization with their natural weapons at 3rd level, allowing them to add 1–1/2 × their character level to their damage rolls for their natural weapons (instead of just adding their character level, as usual).

Vital Statistics

Vorruk stand between six and seven-and-a-half feet tall and weight between 200 and 325 pounds, with no distinction in height or weight between male and female vorruk. They reach maturity at five years of age, with a maximum age of 40 + 2d10 years.

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Speaking of my patreon, it has some (currently) patron-exclusive content vaguely linked to the vorruk, the war rig character theme!

Star-Crossed Races: The Lashirren

Continuing the idea of Starfinder-compatible crossbreed races, we present the lashirren. You can go back and find our first crossbreed, the aeshun, here.

Lashirren

Lashirren are the product of two shirren parents, and one lashunta parent, and only exist as a result of powerful magic. In general the two species are not in any way genetically compatible, but with delicate application of transmutation and conjuration magic, it is possible for one shirren and one lashunta parent to combine their genetic material into an embryo that then gestates in a shirren host. This step is rarely taken but the shirren drive for individuality, even from the shackles of species, sometimes leads to situations where it is seen as desirable.

Lashirren view the world differently than any of their parents, and indeed each lashirren appears to form a worldview unique to them, and often incomprehensible to others. This often leads to valuable insights missed by those who accept common theories as to how and why things work, but it also sets lashirren apart, and sometimes sets them down long rabbit-holes of false equivalence or misunderstood phenomena. While shirren delight in the individualist approach of lashirren, other races often find them obtuse and frustrating.

Appearance: Lashirren look much like lashunta, but have ridges of chitin across their brow and protecting most joints, knuckles, and the soles of their feet. Their coloration generally matches one of their shirren parents, with their hair generally green, black, or deep brown.

Racial Traits

HP: 6

Dimorphic: All lashirren have a deep understanding of how differences drive the universe, but can become so engrossed in contemplating such differences they overlook practical matters. Lashirren all have +2 Wisdom, and -2 Intelligence. Like their lashunta parents, lashirren are dimorphic and at puberty can choose to become muscular korasha (+2 Strength), or nimble damaya (+2 Dexterity).

Size and Type: Lashirren are medium humanoids with the lashunta and shirren subtypes, and a 30 foot speed.

Blindsense: As the shirren racial ability.

Focus: Lashirren often become strongly focused on one idea or skill early in their lives. Select one skill. If it not a class skill for your theme or first class level, gain it as a class skill. If it is a class skill from some source other than your race, you gain a +1 bonus to all skill checks.

Individualism: A lashirren knows that ultimately it is alone in the universe, and must depend on itself above all others. Once per day, as long as no ally is within 10 feet, a lashirren can roll a single attack roll or skill check twice and take the higher result.

Limited telepathy: As the lashunta racial trait.

Vital Statistics

Lashirren stand between 5’ and 7’ tall, weigh between 120 lbs. and 180 lbs., with korasha skewing on the shorter but heavier side of those numbers. They reach maturity at 10,
aging similarly (though not as quickly) as their shirren parents, and have a maximum age of 60 +3d10 years.

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