Category Archives: Starfinder Development

Things You Need to Know in ShadowFinder

Yep, it’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

Unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H1]New Things You Need to Know

While ShadowFinder is 100% Starfinder compatible, there are still a few things that are ShadowFinder-specific you need to know when going through this book. The key such things are detailed below.

And, yes, some of these things are straight-up benefits for player characters. It’s okay. The GM has a section on how things from the Shadowblast work, and why your PCs need these benefits.

Boosted Reroll: Some d20 reroll rules in ShadowFinder specify they allow a “booster reroll.” This means that when you reroll the d20 using that rule, if the result on the die is a 1-10, you add 10 to your total result. Thus, if you make an boosted reroll attack roll with a +5 attack bonus, and the d20 shows an 13 on your roll, you total is (13 + 5) 18. But if your d20 shows a 6 on your reroll, you add another +10 bonus, and your total is (6+5+10) 21.

Even on a boosted reroll, a natural 1 on an attack roll is an automatic failure, though if you need to know how much you miss by, you do get to add the additional +10 for rolling under an 11 on the die.

Heroic Defense: Characters in ShadowFinder are imbued by destiny to be major players in the battle against the worst parts of the Shadowblast, and as a result they just get harder to hurt when wearing their typical gear as they gain levels, without the need for heavy or bulky armor. When wearing their typical adventuring gear, every ShadowFinder character (regardless of character class), has a base armor bonus to EAC equal to their character level + the number of armor types (light, heavy, and powered) they are proficient with, and an armor bonus to KAC two higher than that.

Normally if you aren’t ready-for-trouble (sleeping, in a prison uniform, and similar circumstances where you haven’t had a chance to gear up), you don’t get your Heroic Defense. It’s up to the GM whether any given circumstance counts as being geared for trouble, but normally unless the PC willfully removed their gear or had it stripped from them while helpless, they get Heroic Defense.

You can wear armor if you want and can get hold of it—but its armor bonus doesn’t stack with the armor bonus from Heroic Defense.

There are also personal defense items, like protective vests, which can help you survive other-wise lethal weapon attacks and be used with or without other forms of armor. Additionally, you may be able to access armor upgrades as stand-alone “gizmos.” See Chapter XX for more details on this equipment.

Heroic Resolve: ShadowFinders are literally people who can change the force of the Shadowblast by setting their will against it. As a result, all ShadowFinder characters (regardless of class) have access to Heroic Resolve, allowing them to expend Resolve Points to reroll failed attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. You must decide to use Heroic Resolve after you know what your d20 roll is, but before the result of that roll is revealed by the GM.

A reroll with Heroic Resolve is a “boosted reroll,” as defined in this section.

Recuperate: Whenever ShadowFinder mention recuperating, it’s using that as a game term to describe when a character takes a 10-minute rest and expends a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points. This if an ability says “Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you next takes a 10-minute rest and expends a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points.

Saying “recuperate” is just faster, and makes it clear we’re always talking about the same thing. You can recuperate even if you don’t need to recover Stamina Points, but it still costs 1 Resolve Point.

Minimum Damage Dice: Whenever a ShadowFinder character (regardless of class) uses a weapon with which they are proficient, they can choose to roll that weapon’s damage dice, or use the minimum damage dice for their level and that weapon. For example, Seelah uses a longsword, an item-level 1, 1-handed advanced melee weapon that does 1d8 damage. When Seelah is 7th level, she can choose to use the longsword’s d8 damage, or her minimum damage dice in that category of 2d6. She adds her Strength bonus and Weapon Specialization bonus normally in either case.

See Page XX for the full rules on determining your minimum damage dice with a specific weapon.

Wealth Checks: Most things on Earth and Lost Golarion are bought with credit cards, paper money, signature-promised loans. Whenever you want to buy a typical piece of mundane, public-available gear, from an alarm clock to a car, you just need to make a Wealth Check, based on either half your level + one ability score (depending on the tye of work you wish to do), or a Profession skill check.

However, that economy simply does not cover strange gizmos of weird science, magic items of any type, black-market goods, and other things most common citizens don’t need, but adventurers often do. These things are purchased with Coin of the Realm (or “cr.” for short), special metal money minted by various secret societies and that are ultimately backed by a complex web of promises, rules, and reputation.

And by remarkable coincidence, the cr. cost of magic, gizmos, and so on in ShadowFinder, is exactly equal to the credit cost in a typical Starfinder game. See page xx in Chapter X: Equipment and Wealth, for more information on wealth checks, and Coin of the Realm.

(I can’t WAIT to actually show you the ShadowFinder art by Jacob Blackmon! .. Well, okay, obviously I CAN wait, but I don’t want to.)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder Classes

Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

Since that announcement, a lot of people have asked me what classes will be in ShadowFinder. The short answer is “anything designed for Starfinder.” The long answer is a little more complicated, because the first ShadowFinder book will specifically be designed around eight classes – enigma, envoy, mystic, operative, soldier, sword saint, technician, and warlock.

So, if every class works, why focus on just a subset of them? Well it turns out I wrote a whole sidebar about that! here it is, complete with layout formatting just so people can see what my 3pp manuscripts tend to look like.

[BEGIN SIDEBAR][H2]“Why Can’t I Play A Vanguard In ShadowFinder?”
Good news, you can play a vanguard, if your group wants that!

Oh, still here? Want more of an explanation? Okay, let’s talk.
The ShadowFinder Play Mode is designed to evoke a different set of tropes and sub-genres than standard Starfinder. It’s much more Modern Urban Fantasy than Science-Fantasy, so we expect you’ll mostly adventure on one planet, hunt cryptids, run down cults, and fight things you find in the shadows (see what we did there?), rather than have battles in starships, hop from world to world, explore strange new sections of space, and combat the forces of entire star kingdoms.
So, for that different Play Mode, we focus on the 8 classes that feel most appropriate for the kinds of stories we expect to be part of that – envoy, mystic, operative, soldier, the new enigma and warlock classes, the hybrid mechanic/technomancer technician class, and the sword saint alternate class for the solarian. As a result, those classes are given more support (and in the case of new/hybrid/alternative classes, introduced, blended, and modified) to fit the tone of ShadowFinder.
But that’s the game we envision. If you’re reading this, they’re YOUR ShadowFinders now! Yes, we played with Armor Class rules, damage, equipment… but that can all be applied to any Starfinder class (even other classes on Starfiner Infinite, or things Paizo hasn’t released yet). The whole point of making ShadowFinder be 100% Starfinder compatible is that anything in ShadowFinder can be used in a typical Starfinder game, and anything designed for Starfinder can be used in the ShadowFinder Play Mode.
A single player want to be the only vanguard in the known world and the GM is cool with that idea? Great, no issues here. You want to port in more fantasy-themed classes from Rogue Genius Games’ Starfarer Companion? Be our guest. Don’t like our technician class, and you want to give its class features out to mechanics and technomancers? That’ll work just fine. ShadowFinder is both a toolbox and a goody bag. Use it however you want—be designed it that way.
TL;DR – Anything that works in Starfinder works in Shadowfinder. This is a Play Mode, not a different game or campaign. If you want to have biohackers and vanguards and technomancers finding shadows, go for it!

[END SIDEBAR]

Obviously, I’ll talk more about this both running up to the book’s release on Satrfinder Infinite, and afterward.

(Yep, more Jacob Blackmon ShadowFinder art you don’t get to really see yet!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

Owen Explains It All – Musical Challenges for Starfinder

Before we get to any OGL content, an editorial aside:

First, this blog has spoilers for an animated series, so if you want to avoid those, don’t read this.

Second, you may be wondering why is this tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post, when that’s very unlike my normal marketing tone? Well, because this links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do an episode every two weeks, picking new things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

We have a logo and everything!

If you haven’t already gone and watched the September 27, 2021 episode, we talk about the Star Wars Visions animated shorts, and how one of them features a band that has to overcome challenge with their music, but NOT in a battle of the bands.

Which leads me to Musical Challenges, as OGL content

Musical Challenges

I already created a set of Battle of the Bands rules, designed to resolve a conflict between two or more musical groups, using a modification of the Starfinder chase rules. That’s great, as far as it goes, but what if you want a musical challenge that isn’t a direct competition among multiple groups? For example, what if a band of scifi musicians need to win over a crowd, and become so clearly popular a local gangster decides it’s more profitable to sponsor them than kill one of their members for a pervious misunderstanding?

Luckily, all you need to turn Battle of the Bands into any musical challenge is a way to create a set of statistics for a “Challenge Stat Block,” (CSB) that is decide that a given task requires the PCs to overcome a stat block with a Musical AC and Musical Item level, and an appropriate skill check. Once you do that, you can run each stage of the encounter as a 1-on-1 “battle of the bands” between the PC band and the challenge’s stat block.

Since those values are based on ranks, just decide the CSB has a number of ranks equal to the CR you want that stage of the challenge to be. So for 3rd level heroes, build the CSB off 3 ranks for a typcial challenge, or 5 ranks for a severe encounter. Then write up each stage of the Musical Challenge as a CSB, and run it like an opposing band.

If you need to have the Musical Challenge work with a specific existing NPC, use their CR for ranks if they have an appropriate master skill, or their CR -2 if they don’t. Similarly, for their own skill checks, use the total master skill bonus of an expert array creature of the same CR if they have appropriate master skills, and the god skills bonus of the array otherwise.

Here’s an example.

Our 3rd level scifi band of adventures, Heavy Sabre, is performing at a festival run by the gangster Massio, who plans to kill their drummer when they are done to enforce an old debt. The band needs to win the crowd over (Challenge Step 1), then convince Massio he’ll make more money promoting them than killing them (Challenge Step 2), which happens while his thugs are trying to get them off the stage.

Since Heavy Sabre is 3rd level, the Challenge Step 1 CSB is built using the 3 ranks as the assumed baseline. That gives “Winning Over the Crowd” a Musical Armor Class (MAC) of 13, and a Musical Item Level (MIL) of 13. When the “Winning Over the Crowd” CSB takes an action for relative positioning, it uses the master skill bonus of a 3rd level expert array (+10). Now run a battle of the bands between Heavy Sabre and the CSB, which gets one action a turn.

Once Heavy Sabre wins that, they must win over Massio. Massio is a 5th level gangster, so this will be much tougher. He has a MAC and MIL of 15. However, since he’s not an expert on music and is likely to be swayed by the crowd’s reaction, you can just use his good skill bonus of +11. Also, since there are thugs trying to get the band off the stage, the PCs will have to both fight a Battle of the Bands with this CSB, and fight off 2 thugs during the combat phase.

And that’s it! Any challenge that the GM decides can be overcome by musical expertise — winning over patrons, lulling savage monsters to sleep, putting ghosts of slain battle-drumming to rest–can now be handled by deciding how many steps it takes, and treating each as a Challenge Stat Block.

This is an Expanded Post, with some notes on how to adjust these rules to allow for ANY skill based challenge to be run available to my Patrons, who provide me with the support that makes these posts possible.

ShadowFinder is Coming!

So, first some legal stuff.

Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials.

And I am doing it because with the announcement of Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite, I am, in fact, going to be doing ShadowFinders, like I have ben carefully not focusing on for a few years now.

So, what the heck is ShadowFinder? Well I’ll talk about it more once the first ShadowFinder product is up on Starfinder Infinite, but until then, let’s look at part of the introduction from that book.

What is ShadowFinder?

ShadowFinder is a Play Mode for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. What do we mean by “Play Mode?” We mean this is not a new game, or even a new campaign. It’s just a way to play Starfinder and get a different feel, and be focused on different kinds of stories. You don’t need to learn a new system, and while we tweaked a few things to better support the playstyle we expect game groups to use for ShadowFinder, none of that is mandatory.

Specifically, ShadowFinder is a game about being on a world with a technology level very like the Earth currently has, and yet a world with a great deal of magic as well. In fact, one of the two places we assume you’ll play ShadowFinder is Earth… but an Earth that has been very different since heroes from Golarion arrived during WWI to kill Rasputin. The other world is Golarion, but not only is it much further along in its technological development, it’s been cut off from all the rest of the universe by some sort of cosmic Gap, and Torag is the only god that directly talks to people anymore.

In both these worlds there is what is known on the surface… and then greater threats that lurk in the Shadows. Specifically, there is the Shadowblast  (“Shadобласть,” in the first Soviet notes to talk about it), a hazy and semi-substantial place that seems to be a overlapping blend of the Shadow Plane, First World, and some infernal planes. Journying from Golarion to Earth apparently left a scar in the Astral plane, and the Shadowblast is a demiplane that has formed within that scar.

On Earth, the Shadowblast has been the source of magicand magic creatures to seep into the world, bringing back energies and secrets kept locked away since the Old Egyptian Gods left the world. On Golarion, the Shadowblast is a way for the planar flotsam and jetsam to wash ashore in this Gap-severed pocket of the Material Plane, causing things from Earth to arrive… but also horrors and travelers from other realms who are pretty annoyed that, once on Golarion, they seem stuck here forever.

And in both worlds, the Shadowblast is clearly a thing being explored by alien empire far from known space, as shirren, ysoki, vesk, and other species find themselves dumped out of the planar darkness, generally suffering great confusion and memory loss. And, it seems, less savory things from the Void have been visiting, and perhaps even leaving, with grays and reptoids the least horrific of these threats.

Whether playing in a relatively normal-looking Deep Shadows game on Earth, where the general public is still in the dark about the growing eldritch threats, or a Shadows Everywhere game on either world, where magic and mythic species are well-known, but the true danger from the Shadowblast remains a problem only a small fraction of people are willing to do anything about, the PCs take on the role of ShadowFinders, trying to mitigate the damage from things leaking out of (and sometimes plotting from within) the Shadowblast, while seeking answers to the true nature of the incursions that are growing in frequency and intensity.

Welcome to ShadowFinder.

(I literally cannot show you this amazing ShadowFinder image by Jacob Blackmon yet. But, soon!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

Guarded Trick Exploit for Starfinder

Okay, today it’s just an idea I have been mulling for a while.

Operative Exploits

2nd Level

You must be at least 2nd level to choose these exploits.

Guarded Trick (Ex): When you make a trick attack, in place of any other movement you could normally take, you may take a guarded step.

PATREON
If you are enjoyed this, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

Making Combat Interesting: The Really Wild West Clockwork Platform Fight

I recently ran a fight in my Really Wild West campaign, using Starfinder rules, that took place atop a series of spinning, moving, shifting gears. Overall, it was big hit.

(Plus a hodge-podge of objective markers, miniatures, models, and standees)
(and one 3D printed mechanical dog, used to represent the old west mechanic’s steampunk canine drone)

Now, this was made much easier by the fact that one friend of mine made these big green gridded disks from flower/cake foam (to use as hills and such), and other got this spinning, sliding lazy susan tabletop. So all I had to do was tell folks the disks were big bronze gears, spin and turn them (they both rotated on their own axis, and spun around each other at different speeds), and players could rotate the whole map if they needed to see what was on the far side of the gear-pile.

I warned people that the mechanism was so complex as to be essentially unpredictable, so while I tried to follow some basic rules on how things spun and moved, if I messed up players knew that randomness was intended. While the gears were officially in constant movement I just relocated them at the end of each round, so players always had a chance to react to one position before they formed a new one (and, after all, realistically the characters are in “constant motion” as well).

On top of the big moving gear platforms, there were two sets of “control cogs,” parts of a Babbage system that controlled the movement of the gears (orange markers), and the actions of the constructs defending them (green markers). The mechanic in the group managed to get access to those things, though it wasn’t easily, and one-by-one shut down the constructs while their allies used mobility (including good Acrobatics or Athletics checks and actual mobility to avoid attacks from spinning gears as the dodged about), flight, and climbing to move around.

So, this encounter had fairly normal combatants, but a lot of other things going on as well. In fact I kept the combatants pretty straightforward (well… one had a steam-pressure triphammer than could boost for multiple rounds to gain more and more bonus dice to its next attack) just so I wasn’t throwing too much at the players.

I’ve done similar things with moving elements before–fighting on rafts in rivers choked with floating logs, conflicts on trains both mobile and stationary, running battled through tunnels with teleportation gates, stampedes as hazards with big rocks to hide behind and every other space counting as an attack of opportunity as you try to avoid being trampled–but I think this is the most complex and multi-moving-part encounter I’ve done. And my players are all veterans of gaming and general and, at 9th level, this campaign and these characters in particular.

And it’s fairly easy to spice things up with doing so far as to have two Jedi battle it out on rocks bobbing along streams of lava with guard skiffs flying by. A battle behind a waterfall makes everything wet, and drowns out all noise. Defending a wall gives all the PCs cover–or all the PC’s foes cover, depending on which side of the wall they are on. A cliffside fight is all about climbing up, down, and sideways rather than running N, S, E, and W. Fights on frozen ponds, or in hurricanes, or in grass fields that stand 12 feet tall — not only do these things give the players a new experience, it can make various class and ability options they take worthwhile. Who wants to move freely through natural terrain if there isn’t the occasional thorny bramble covering 13 of the map, with grig archers shooting out of it?

You don’t need to shake things up in every battle, but just a few props now and then, or a different kind of terrain or local hazard, can help a specific encounter be memorable.

PATREON
If you are enjoyed this, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!

The Traumatic Weapon Property for Starfinder/ShadowFinder

Sometimes, you have to decide if an idea is worth the mental load adding it causes the game to gain.

Stamina Points and Hit Points are wildly unrealistic simulations of how creatures and objects take damage. After all, people who are stabbed once sometimes die, people who are stabbed 30+ times sometimes survive. Similar numbers are true for gunshot wounds, and often the people involved are sufficiently typical there’s no reason to suspect they are secretly 11th level heroes with a vast pool of damage points… or that the people who kill with a single attack are pulling off massively high-level trick attacks.

But SP and HP aren’t efforts to model reality. They are gameist rules designed to make it easy to know if a character is being hurt, near death, or dead. Often the situations they create are pretty clearly at odds with typical reality, even if possibly within the realm of things that have happened a few times in medical history. But the rules do a good job of indicated levels or harm, allowing resource management to help track available healing and rest times, and allowing players a metric by which they can gauge the threat posed by a wide range of threats.

Normally, you look at changing rules to make them easier, faster, more realistic, or more “fun,” (which can, admittedly, encapsulate a lot of potential elements). While it would be pointless to try to make weapon damage more “realistic” in a system using SP/HP, due to the inherent gameist nature of that system, there is, however, another potential reason to have firearms work differently than melee weapons in Starfinder (or a compatible modern version, perhaps ShadowFinder) – genre emulation. While lots of supernatural monster hunters in genre fiction have shotguns and pistols, others with access to such materials restrict themselves to knives, axes, and wooden stakes, and go so far as to claim firearms never help.

And there IS a difference between the way a bullet damages a soft target and the way it damages a hard one. The vast speeds of bullets means they often deform and warp soft tissues in a much larger area than the wound track, whereas a stiletto punching the same size whole in someone lacks that additional damage mechanic.

So, maybe we want bullets (and maybe some other weapons) to work differently than other damage-dealers… sometimes. Kinda.

So, what if we create a new weapon property, called “traumatic”?

Traumatic: A traumatic weapon is one that does a significant amount of soft-tissue and propagating damage, such as a gunshot’s effects through hydrostatic shock. When used to damage a target that has no hardness and no DR, traumatic weapons deal additional damage equal to the listed amount (such as “traumatic +1d6”).

Kinda like Boost and some other traits, traumatic gives you more damage, but only in specific circumstances. I’d have to do a lot of math and comparisons to know exactly how much extra damage traumatic can add at any given level… and I’m not sure it’s worth it

Sometimes you have to craft a rule before you know if you like it. I’m really on the fence with this one. So I can try to adjust it until I like it, ir discard it and start over… or just decide it’s a bad idea.

But even fi I do that, I’m saving it in my archived files. Sometimes a bad idea for one game or function turns out to be just what you need for another project.

Patreon

If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, or are just looking for a way to support my work, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

Slenderman, for ShadowFinder (Starfinder-Compatible)

So, if I DO a ShadowFinder rpg, or campaign book, or Starfinder hack, or whatever, obviously it’s going to involve adventures that include fighting things (because if it didn’t, I’d pick a different game system). While part of the point of doing something compatible with an existing game system is to make all the existing options available for use as a GM pleases, we’d obviously need some other, new things.

So, what will PCs oppose in a ShadowFinder campaign?

Creepy things. Like a SlenderMan.

(Slenderman art (c) Jacob Blackmon, and used with permission. Check out his Patreon here!)

Apóleipa, Innocence-Eater (Slenderman) (Combatant)
CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Medium fey (Extraplanar)
Init +6; Senses blindsight (emotion) 30 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14
Defense HP 98
EAC 19; KAC 20
Defensive Abilities Only the Fearless (DR/Resist all energy 10 vs attacks from frightened foes), Tilted Away
Fort +6; Ref +8; Will +10;
Offense
Speed 40 ft.
Melee touch +13 (2d4+7 B), critical: staggered 1d4 rounds, 15-foot reach
Ranged warped world +15 (2d4+7 A)
Statistics
STR +4; DEX +2; CON +0; INT +2; WIS +1; CHA +5
Skills Bluff +19, Culture +14, Diplomacy +19, Intimidate +19, Sense Motive +19, Stealth +19
Languages alltongue
Other Abilities alltongue, feats (Improved Demoralize), isolation (DC 19), warped world
Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or infestation (3–6)
Special Abilities
Alltongue (Su): The Slenderman can speak and understand all spoken or signed languages, and is always able to be heard, even in areas of deafening sound and by creatures without a sense of hearing.
Isolation (Su): The Slenderman is a creature of isolation, and this extends to efforts to communicate with people far away by magical or technological means, or even just shouting. Anytime a creature within 300 feet of the Slenderman attempts to send or receive communication with anyone or anything not in their line-of-sight, they must succeed at a DC 19 Will save. On a failed save their radio turns to static, magic spell returns just whispered howls of pain, or their scream seems to die as soon as it leaves their throat. Once a creature fails this save, the condition prevents any communication beyond line-of-sight until it gets more than 300 feet from the Slenderman.
Any effort to record or preserve any image or sound of the Slenderman also requires a successful DC 19 Will save, with failure resulting in just a vague blur or feint whisper, or a picture of what appears to be a tall, thin, but mortal man in a suit, with a blurred face.
Only the Fearless (Su): Those who know fear find themselves nearly unable to damage the Slenderman. When a creature is suffering a fear effect (including the Slenderman’s own Intimidate check with Improved Demoralize), the Slenderman reduces damage from any attack they make by 10 points, regardless of damage type.
Tilted Away (Su): The space the Slenderman is in seems to ripple and roll away to make it difficult to make ranged attacks against it. Any ranged attack made against the Slenderman at a range greater than 2 feet grants the Slenderman concealment.
Warped World (Su): The Slenderman can reach out a long, crooked finger and cause someone to have a sense the world is spinning and twisting, wrenching their organs and insides as if they were being wrung out like a rag. This is a ranged acid attack against EAC, has a range increment of 50 feet, and has Knockdown as a critical hit effect.

Apóleipa are a form of fey native to the Plane of Shadow that represent the unformed fears of spaient creatures. As cultures form specific fears or hatreds, various apóleipa form to both try to stoke these negative feelings of natives to the mortal world, and to feed on them. Among the most recent form of apóleipa are innocence-eaters, also known as Slendermen, who feed of a sense of loss of innocence and self-loathing at having done horrid things. They operate mostly in places already suffering from great tragedy or resentment, often on the fringes of society, and seek to convince the most vulnerable members of these places to take actions that will deepen the fear and despair of the population.

Patreon

If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, or are just looking for a way to support my work, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

Archetypical Theme for Starfinder

So far this week, we’ve looked at using archetypes to access theme abilities and playing living fabric as player characters, both for Starfinder.

No shock, we’re sticking with that game system today, as we offer a way to access archetype abilities using a theme. For the reasons why you might want to “cross the memes” this way, check out the justification in Monday’s “InterThemed” article. I’ll also add that this can be a way to pick up some of two archetypes in one class, which otherwise can extremely difficult, despite how obviously things like a vaster priest or cyberborn law officer could easily exist within the game setting. While a theme can’t hand out a LOT of archetype abilities (and remain balanced, and not allow a theme to be better at being the archetype than the actual archetype), it can give enough to make a difference, and possibly act as a more customized variant of the “themeless” theme.

(Art by getmilitary photos)

Archetypical Theme

You have a connection to one archetype so strong it defines you as much as your class or background, and you gain a few of its key features without giving up any class abilities of your own.

Archetypical Knowledge: You gain a class skill of your choice when you create an archetypical character. Also, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to any ability score you choose. Based on the archetype you wish to access, you may want to pick a related skill and/or ability score to benefit from this ability.

Archetypical Dedication: At 6th level, you select one archetype that you have not taken and which you meet all the prerequisites for, that has an archetype ability at 2nd, 4th, or 6th level. You gain it’s lowest-level ability you do not already have that is granted by the archetype by 6th level or earlier. Once you have selected an archetype with this theme, you cannot change it, and you cannot use the normal rules to take that archetype’s abilities in place of class abilities.

Archetypical Mastery: At 12th level, you gain the lowest-level ability of the archetype you selected at 6th level you do not already have, that is granted by the archetype by 12th level or earlier.

Archetypical Resolve: At 18th level, twice per day you can rest and focus yourself for 10 minutes to regain 1 Resolve Point.

Patreon

If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, or are just looking for a way to support my work, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

Owen Explains It All – Textile Characters for Starfinder

Before we get to any OGL content, an editorial aside:

First, this blog has spoilers for an animated series, so if you want to avoid those, don’t read this.

Second, you may be wondering why is this tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post, when that’s very unlike my normal marketing tone? Well, because this links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do an episode every two weeks, picking new things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

We have a logo and everything!

(I guess I need to build that chair, now…)

If you haven’t already gone and watched the September, 2021 episode, we talk about the fifth episode of Marvel’s What If… series, titled “What If… Zombies?” Obviously there are spoilers for that episode both in the OEIA episode, and this tie-in blog, so go no further if you want to avoid those.

I mean, obviously, while it’s pretty clear from the title that this is the Marvel Zombies inspired episode of What If…, I’m going to be talking about some things that aren’t necessarily clear just because there are zombies involved. So, if you want to avoid spoilers for this (or, weirdly, the Disney Alladin movies), I’ve given you fair warning.

Ready?

So in the episode, we see Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation act entirely of its own accord. It does this in the Strange movie, of course, but here the doctor is no longer around to even subconsciously direct it, and the cloak makes tactical decisions, puts itself at risk, and makes a friend. In other words, the cloak acts not like an object, or a power, but as a character. And I was immediately reminded of Carpet, in the Disney Alladin movies, which similarly shows bravery, or fear, or whimsey, and is clearly more a person than a thing.

And, I realized, that would NOT be hard to make an option in a ttRPG.

Now with that explanation out of the way, let’s get to the OGL game content!

Playable Textile Characters

Okay so, look. This is for people who have decided sentient magic items that happen to look like capes or carpets or sashes or whatever are no sillier than, and need not be restricted any more than, robots with healing circuits, floating brains with atrophied limbs, or 6-armed overhelpful furballs. Either you like the idea, or you don’t. I’m here to provide rules for people who do, not try to convince people who don’t to change their minds. 🙂

Weft

The weft are living, self-aware fabric magic items, and no one is sure where they came from. Are the living cloaks and rugs an offshoot of cloakers? Are cloakers some kind of morlock offshoot of the weft? Are fabric magic items simply more prone to gaining self-awareness than other forms of eldritch items? Is there some artifact loom, somewhere in the galaxy, cranking out cloth-people?

Like androids, weft are constructs that have sufficient complexity to attract a soul. Also like androids, when a weft is old enough, it simply chooses to let its soul move on, it’s body briefly being an inert length of cloth that changes color in a process known as “dyeing,” before a new soul moves in, and a new weft person arises in the same body. No weft remembers its creation, and it is unclear if this is because all original weft dyed long ago, of because even a “newborn” weft doesn’t become self-aware until removed from its place of origin.

While the majority of weft appear to be carpets or cloaks and capes, some instead take the appearance of coats, sashes, shawls, curtains, and other fabric objects.

(Art by vivali)

Ability Modifiers +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Wis
Hit Points 2

Size and Type
Weft are Small, Medium, or Large constructs with the magical subtype, though unlike other constructs, they have Constitution scores. This decision is made at character creation and can’t be changed.

Blindsense
Weft’s sensitive fibers grant them blindsense (vibration)—the ability to sense vibrations in the air—with a range of 30 feet.

Living Threads
In addition to being constructs and thus able to benefit from spells like make whole, weft count as living creatures for the purposes of magic healing effects that work on living creatures, though the number of Hit Points restored in such cases is halved. A character must use the Engineering skill (or a fabric creation/repair Profession skill) to perform the tasks of the Medicine skill on weft. Weft also heal naturally over time as living creatures do, and can benefit from magic or technology that can bring constructs back from the dead, as well as effects that normally can’t (such as raise dead).

Silent, Sign, and Limited Telepathy
Weft do not speak, but can hear normally and communicate through signed versions of the languages they know. Also, they can communicate telepathically with any creatures within 30 feet with whom they share a language. Conversing telepathically with multiple creatures simultaneously is just as difficult as listening to multiple people speak.

Drape
A weft can share the space of an ally without penalty to either the weft or ally. A weft can also drape itself on a creature willing to let it do so. At the beginning of its turn, the weft must decide if it is riding (in which case it can take no movement that turn, and only moves when the creature it is draped on does), or carrying (in which case it can carry the creature as it moves, but that creature cannot take any other movement until the beginning of the next turn). An ally can decide to stop allowing a weft to drape at any time as part of any action, but if the character was carried by the weft, it still can’t move on its own until after the weft’s next turn begins.

Additionally, whether is it draping or not, as a full-round action a weft can lay and move in such a way as appear to be a typical cape, or carpet (or whatever one mundane cloth object it matches the appearance of, as selected at character creation) to gains a +20 bonus to Disguise checks to appear to be that thing.

Woven
Weft are immune to bleed, disease, death effects, poison, nonlethal damage, and sleep effects unless those effects specify they affect constructs. Weft can be affected by effects or spells that normally target only humanoids, but receive a +4 racial bonus to saving throws against such effects. Weft can drink (absorbing liquids into their fabric), though they don’t need to, and they must rest by entering an passive torpor that is similar to sleep for 8 hours every day. Weft do not breathe or suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum.

Wrap Up

So, have different ideas for a weft character? Got other magic items you think could be turned into playable species? Interested in having me Explain It All for some other media-inspired content? Leave a comment and let me know!

(This is an Extended Post, with additional material discussing weft as drones for mechanics and technomancers, exclusively on my Patreon for my supporting Patrons.)