Blog Archives

Empath Connection for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

Having written a draft of the mystic class redesigned for PF1, I want to get through the connections in the Starfinder Core Rulebook alphabetical list. That seems the best way to ensure we’ve covered enough of the original classes flavor and options.


Your connection helps you sense emotions and notice details others can’t, and sometimes manipulate the emotions of others. You might be a diplomat, an investigator, a mind-reading bodyguard, a ship’s psychologist, or a psychic con artist..
Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Perception, Sense Motive
Spells: At the listed mystic class levels you receive the listed bonus spells. The spell level of each spell gained is listed in parenthesis. 3rd – Detect Thoughts (1st), 5th – Detect Desires (2nd), 7thCharitable Impulse (3rd), 9th – Apparent Treachery (4th), 11thPessimism (5th), 13th – Curse of Disgust (6th), 15th – Perceive Betrayal (7th), 17th – Antipathy or Sympathy (choose which when you reach 17th level)(8th), 19th – Symbol of Strife (9th).

Connection Powers

Empathy (Su)(1st Level): As a full-round action, you can attempt a Sense Motive check to read the emotions of a particular creature (DC = 20 or 10 + its total Bluff modifier, whichever is higher). If you succeed, you learn its general disposition and attitude toward creatures within 30 feet of it, and you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive checks against that creature for 1 hour. Whether you succeed or fail, after opening your mind to read emotions, you take a –2 penalty to saving throws against mind-affecting effects for 1 minute.
Greater Mindlink (Su)(3rd Level): You can use your mindlink ability on the same creature as many times per day as you wish, and the communication can be both ways, though the maximum of 10 minutes of communication per round still applies.
Emotionsense (Su)(6th Level): You can detect and locate creatures within 60 feet that have emotions, as if you had blindsense. A creature can keep its emotions calm to avoid detection by this ability by succeeding at a Bluff check with a DC equal to 10 + your Sense Motive modifier, but a creature under the influence of an emotion effect cannot try to avoid detection. Creatures under the effects of nondetection or similar effects automatically avoid detection by this ability. Unless otherwise stated, constructs, mindless creatures, and those with Intelligence scores of 2 or lower don’t have emotions and can’t be sensed this way.
Discern Lies (Sp)(10th Level): You can use discern lies as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to your mystic level, each time targeting a single creature. This effect lasts 1 round. Once a creature successfully saves against this ability, it becomes immune to further uses of this ability for 24 hours.
Greater Emotionsense (Su)(14th Level): Your emotionsense is far more discerning, as if you had blindsight. It otherwise functions as the emotionsense connection power.
Retrocognition (Sp)(18th Level): You can use retrocognition as a spell-like ability at will. When doing so, you take a –2 penalty to saving throws against mind-affecting effects for as long as you concentrate on retrocognition and an equal amount of time afterward.
Empathic Mastery (Sp)(20th Level): You can expend a 7th-level or higher spell slot to use psychic surgery as a spell-like ability. If you are incapacitated by an effect that psychic surgery could remove and have an appropriate spell slot remaining, you can expend the spell slot to use this ability on yourself at the beginning of your turn, even without being able to take any actions.

I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Companion Bond as a Connection for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

So, can we find a way for our PF1-compatible Fantasy Mystic to get an animal companion?

A lot of PF1 classes have a way to gain an animal companion. It absolutely seems on-concept for the mystic (especially some of the weirder options, like genie-touched or monstrous companions), but it is something we can do as a simple and balanced option? Well, let’s look at what other classes in the game have as options that can be replaced with an animal companion.

At 1st level, a druid can take either an animal companion or one of a short list of cleric domains as their nature bond class feature. While that’s not proof that those two options are equivalent, the fact that players still often choose the domain after more than a decade of PF1 game theory and play experience certainly suggests they are close enough in total utility to serve as a starting point.

So, that means to determine if a connection being replaced with an animal companion is reasonable, we need to compare the utility of a typical connection with the utility of a typical druid-allowed domain. Once we do that. we can see if we need to have a mystic give up more than just their connection to get an animal companion, or if we need to give them some benefit beyond a companion in order to balance taking the connection away.

Cleric domains give you a bonus spell you can prepare on top of your normal spell choices for every spell level. Often, domain spells aren’t on the cleric or druid class spell list. That’s not the same as a bonus spell known for each spell level, as a connection normally gives a mystic, but it’s close enough in utility for us to treat them as equivalent. So we can have an animal companion give up its bonus spells known to offset the domain spells.

Each cleric domain has two granted powers, one gained at 1st and one at 6th or 8th. Those granted powers are in the same ballpark as connection powers, so we can say we need to give up two connection powers (out of the seven a connection gives). That means it should be reasonable to have a mystic connection grant 5 connection powers, and a full animal companion.

That is a tad awkward, since we now have to create a set of connection powers that come with an animal companion… butmake them flexible enough they work with any animal companion, and spread out enough you only get 5 of them over 20 levels. Luckily, there are spells not normally available to a mystic that are animal-companion-focused, and animal companion-relared feats, which we can make as options out animal companion mystic can choose from.

So, here is what our Companion Connection looks like. (And now we know what connection the image I used for the original mystic class write-up has taken, which is why she has a hunting dog!)

(Art by Daniel)


Associated Skills: Healing, Handle Animal.
Spells: None

Animal Companion (1st): You gain an animal companion, as the druid’s nature bond option. Your mystic level acts as your druid level for your companion.

Companion Boost: At 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level, you may select a companion boost. This is either a companion feat, or a companion spell, as defined below.

Companion Feat: Select one of the following feats, for which you meet the prerequisites. You gain that feat as a bonus feat. Alternatively, you can select a feat your animal companion meets the prerequisites for, and grant it to your animal companion as a bonus feat. You may select this connection power more than once. Each time, you must select a different bonus feat.

Andoren Falconry, Animal Soul, Beast Rider, Beast Speaker, Beast Speaker Mastery, Bully Breed, Curious Companion, Devotion Against the Unnatural, Distant Spell Link, Evolved Companion, Extra Item Slot, Forceful Charge, Genie-Touched Companion, Greater Tenacious Hunter, Heft Brute, Huntmaster, Improved Forceful Charge, Improved Share Spells, Improved Spell Sharing, Monstrous Companion, Pack Flanking, Pack Tactics, Share Healing, Skaveling Companion, Spirit’s Gift, Stalker’s Focus, Tenacious Hunter, Totem Beast.

Companion Spells: Select one of the following spells. It is considered to be a spell on your spell list and, if you can cast spells of the listed level, you gain it as a bonus spells known. You may select this connection power more than once. Each time, you must select a different spell.

acid maw (1st), carry companion (2nd), scamper (2nd), phantom hunt (4th), share shape (4th), raise animal companion (5th)

I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Oracle Mysteries as Connections for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

There’s a super-easy way to create PF1-ready connections for the Fantasy Mystic, if you don’t want to go to the effort of converting Starfinder connections to PF1 rules–just use oracle mysteries! While there are a number of tiny changes that need to get made, none are difficult or time-consuming. Here are the steps to turn a Mystery into a Connection:

1. Pick two skills to be the associated skills for the connection skill class feature of the mystic. You can pick of two the class skills the mystery grants to oracles, but you don’t have to. Any two appropriate skills is fine.

2. Change at what character level the bonus spells are granted to match the fantasy mystic connection spell progression.

3. Replace references to “oracle” with “mystic,” and switch anything Charisma-based to be Wisdom-based.

4. Write a “revelation” connection power gained at every level the mystic gets connection powers, that allows the mystic to select from the mystery’s revelations. (You can use the version I wrote for the example, below.) Don’t use a mystery’s final revelation for a connection–the mystic already has a 20th level capstone ability (they can pick a normal revelation for their 20th level connection power).

5. Adjust level requirements to select revelations, if any, to be at levels a connection grants powers. (Make sure you don’t let a mystic gain a revelation at an earlier level than an oracle would.)

Here’s a quick example of what a conversion looks like using the Ancestor Mystery. You can apply the same quick conversion to any PF1 oracle mystery.


Associated Skills: Linguistics, any one Knowledge skill.
Spells: Unseen Servant – 3rd, Spiritual Weapon – 5th, Heroism – 7th, Spiritual Ally – 9th, Telekinesis – 11th, Greater Heroism – 13th, Ethereal Jaunt – 14th), Vision – 16th, Astral Projection – 18th.

Revelation: At 1st, 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 20th level, a mystic with the ancestor connection can choose from any of the following revelations.

Ancestral Weapon (Su): You can summon a simple or martial weapon from your family’s history that is appropriate for your current size. You are considered proficient with this weapon. At 3rd level, the weapon is considered masterwork. At 7th level, 15th level, and 19th level, the weapon gains a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus. At 11th level, the weapon gains the ghost touch weapon property. You can use this ability for a number of minutes per day equal to your oracle level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments. The weapon disappears after 1 round if it leaves your grasp.

Blood of Heroes (Su): As a move action, you can call upon your ancestors to grant you extra bravery in battle. You gain a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls, damage rolls, and Will saves against fear for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom bonus. At 7th level, this bonus increases to +2, and at 14th level this bonus increases to +3. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day at 5th level, and every five levels thereafter.

Phantom Touch (Su): As a standard action, you can perform a melee touch attack that causes a living creature to become shaken. This ability lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your mystic level (minimum 1 round). You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Sacred Council (Su): As a move action, you can call upon your ancestors to provide council. This advice grants you a +2 bonus on any one d20 roll. This effect lasts for 1 round. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom bonus.

Spirit of the Warrior (Su): You can summon the spirit of a great warrior ancestor and allow it to possess you, becoming a mighty warrior yourself. You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, and a +4 natural armor bonus to AC. Your base attack bonus while possessed equals your mystic level (which may give you additional attacks), and you gain the Improved Critical feat with a weapon of your choice. You can use this ability for 1 round for every 2 mystic levels you possess. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-round increments. You must be at least 14th level to select this revelation.

Spirit Shield (Su): You can call upon the spirits of your ancestors to form a shield around you that blocks incoming attacks and grants you a +4 armor bonus. At 7th level, and every four levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +2. At 13th level, this shield causes arrows, rays, and other ranged attacks requiring an attack roll against you to have a 50% miss chance. You can use this shield for 1 hour per day per mystic level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-hour increments.

Spirit Walk (Su): You can become incorporeal and invisible. While in this form, you can move in any direction and pass through solid objects. You can take no action other than to move while in this form. You remain in this form for a number of rounds equal to your mystic level, but you can end this effect prematurely as a standard action. You can use this ability once per day at 14th level, and twice per day at 18th level. You must be at least 14th level to select this revelation.

Storm of Souls (Su): You can summon the spirits of your ancestors to attack in a ghostly barrage—their fury creates physical wounds on creatures in the area. The storm has a range of 100 feet and is a 20-foot-radius burst. Objects and creatures in the area take 1d8 hit points of damage for every two mystic levels you possess. Undead creatures in the area take 1d8 points of damage for every mystic level you possess. A successful Fortitude save reduces the damage to half. You must be at least 10th level to select this revelation. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day at 12th level and every four levels thereafter.

Voice of the Grave (Su): You can speak with dead, as per the spell, for a number of rounds per day equal to your mystic level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. At 5th level, and every five levels thereafter, the dead creature you question takes a cumulative –2 penalty on its Will save to resist this effect.

Wisdom of the Ancestors (Su): Once per day, you can enter a trance in which you commune with the spirits of your ancestors. This trance lasts for 10 minutes, which must be uninterrupted and during which you can take no other actions. When you come out of this trance, you have gained mystical insight into the future. At 1st level, this insight acts as an augury spell with 80% effectiveness. At 5th level, the insight takes the form of a divination with 90% effectiveness. At 8th level, the knowledge you gain is equivalent to a commune spell. None of these spell effects require material components.

Expanded Post: This is an expanded post. Over on my Patreon, as a thank-you for their support, I went ahead and selected two skills for every official PF1 oracle mystery. My Patrons help me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and joining it is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Akashic Connection for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

Having written a draft of the mystic class redesigned for PF1, it’s time to start adapting and/or creating some mystic connections to go with the class. I’m going to start with the alphabetical first connection in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, though we may hope around a lot as the week goes on, rather than just adapt the official connections in order.


You’re linked to the collective knowledge of every sentient species that ever lived that’s held in the Akashic Record, an Astral library of perfect psychic records of every moment in history. You might be an ancient lorekeeper, an inquisitive student of the occult, an intuitive consulting detective, or a secret-hoarding spy.
Associated Skills: Appraise, Knowledge (all, each selected separately), Linguistics, Profession
Spells: You gain the following bonus spells known at the listed mystic class level; 3rd – Identify, 5th – Augury, 7th – Akashic communion, 9th – Divination, 11th – Contact Other Plane, 13th – Legend Lore, 15th – Vision, 17th – Discern Location, 19th – Akashic Form.

Connection Powers

Akashic Knowledge (Su)(1st Level): Each day when you recover your spell slots, you can tap into the Akashic Record, enabling you to choose one Knowledge skill or Profession skill to gain a +2 bonus to all checks with for that day. This acts as the connection skill class feature you gain at 4th level, and when you connection skill bonus increases, your akashic knowledge bonus increases by the same amount.

Access Akashic Record (Su)(3rd Level): You can access the Akashic Record to augment your skills. You can take 1d4 hours to take 20 on a Knowledge Skill or Profession skill, and when you do so you make the check as if you had ranks in that skill equal to your mystic level.

Peer into the Future (Su)(6th Level): Once per day, you can spend 10 minutes in uninterrupted meditation to receive visions of possible futures. At any point over the next 24 hours, you can declare that you are using the benefit of this ability before rolling one initiative check, saving throw, or skill check. You gain a +4 insight bonus to that check. At 11th level, you can use this ability twice per day, though you can’t use it the second time until after you’ve used your first bonus.

Mind Probe (Sp) (10th Level): You can use mind probe as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to your mystic level, lasting for 1 round. A creature that successfully saves against your mind probe is immune to further uses of this ability for 24 hours.

Telepathic Memories (Su) (14th Level): You can share memories at will with allies linked by your telepathic bond class feature. As a full round action, you or a linked ally can send a memory of up to 1 minute to as many others in the bond as they choose. Sending a relevant memory counts as a successful aid another attempt for a skill check, even if you wouldn’t otherwise be able to use aid another (to a limit of one such memory per skill check).

Memory Palace (Su) (18th Level): You assemble an extradimensional library to house mental constructs representing your accumulated knowledge. This memory palace has a single shimmering entrance. You can access your memory palace once per day; when you do, the entrance appears within close range. If any creatures or objects that were not part of the memory palace when it was created remain inside it, the entrance remains where it first appeared. Only those you designate can enter the memory palace, and the entrance closes and becomes invisible behind you when you enter. Anyone inside can open the entrance and exit the memory palace at will. The only way to enter and exit the memory palace is via the entrance; even plane shift and similar magic do not access it.

You can create any floor plan you desire for your memory palace, up to a number of 10-foot cubes equal to your mystic level. Inside, the atmosphere is clean, fresh, and warm; outside conditions don’t affect the memory palace, nor do conditions inside it pass beyond. There is no furniture other than bookcases, computers, and a few desks and sofas. A number of unseen servants (as per the spell of the same name) equal to half your mystic level serve as librarians. The library keeps the same layout each time you access it, though you can alter its appearance each time you gain a level or by spending 15 minutes concentrating—you don’t need to be inside it to alter it.

When you gain this ability, choose one Knowledge or Profession skill. Consulting your memory palace gives anyone who studies within—including you—a +4 enhancement bonus to checks with the selected skill, and creatures inside the memory palace can attempt checks of that type untrained. At 16th level, and at each level thereafter, choose another Knowledge or Profession skill to which your memory palace’s skill bonus applies.

Glean Spell (Su) (20th Level): Once per day, you can meditate for 10 minutes to delve into the Akashic Record to temporarily gain a spell from the cleric, psychic, shaman, or wizard spell list as a bonus spell known. You can cast the spell using your spell slots, though it consumes a spell slot 1 level higher than the actual level of the spell. When you next regain your spells, the spell you gleaned is lost (though you could take 19 minutes to regain is as a bonus spell known for another day).

I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

First Look at Fantasy Mystic for PF1

So, while it’s easy to say that Starfinder mystics function as clerics for that game, and technomancers serve as wizards, that’s not entirely accurate. While it is true that many of the same design and role concerns went into the mystic and technomancer as the fantasy classes they are commonly associated with, they are far from 1-to-1 conversions of those concepts. As a result, there is often some interest in creating fantasy versions of such classes (and other Starfinder class options, such that I have written fantasy a version of the solarian for PF1, and have a version for PF2 available on Pathfinder Infinite).

Converting a class over is a big project, and generally takes more than one writing draft and multiple development passes, so this is just a first look at how I’d take the mysterious-supernatural-powered mystic from its SF setting and move it to PF1. Today we just look at the core framework, with connections coming later in the week.

The Mystic (PF1)

Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d8.
Starting Wealth: 3d6 x 10 gp (average 105 gp).

Class Skills

The mystic’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (any 6, selected individually)(Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Points at each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

(Art by Daniel)

Class Features Spells Per Day

LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th
1st+0+0+0+2Connection, connection power, healing touch3
3rd+2+1+1+3Connection power, connection spell5
4th+3+1+1+4Connection skill63
5th+3+1+1+4Connection spell64
6th+4+2+2+5Connection power653
7th+5+2+2+5Connection spell664
8th+6/+1+2+2+6Connection skill6653
9th+6/+1+3+3+6Connection spell6664
10th+7/+2+3+3+7Connection power66653
11th+8/+3+3+3+7Connection spell, telepathic bond66664
12th+9/+4+4+4+8Connection skill666653
13th+9/+4+4+4+8Connection spell666664
14th+10/+5+4+4+9Connection power6666653
15th+11/+6/+1+5+5+9Connection spell6666664
16th+12/+7/+2+5+5+10Connection skill66666653
17th+12/+7/+2+5+5+10Connection spell66666664
18th+13/+8/+3+6+6+11Connection power, transcendence666666653
19th+14/+9/+4+6+6+11Connection spell666666664
20th+15/+10/+5+6+6+12Connection power, enlightenment666666666

Spells Known


Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Mystics are proficient with all simple weapons, and light armor.

Spells: A mystic casts divine spells drawn from the psychic and shaman spell lists. She can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a mystic must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a mystic’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the mystic’s Wisdom modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a mystic can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on her class feature table000. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Wisdom score (see Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

A mystic’s selection of spells is extremely limited. A mystic begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of her choice. At each new mystic level, she gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Mystic Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a sorcerer knows is not affected by her Wisdom score; the numbers on Table: Mystic Spells Known are fixed.)

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered mystic level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), a mystic can choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. In effect, the mystic loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. A mystic may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that she gains new spells known for the level.

A mystic need not prepare her spells in advance. She can cast any spell she knows at any time, assuming she has not yet used up her spells per day for that spell level.

Connection: At 1st level the mystic has a mysterious connection with some force that grants her magical powers. The exact nature of the connection can vary widely, and even mystics who share the same connection may interpret it differently. The mystic picks one connection upon taking her first level of mystic—once made, this choice can’t be changed. (Connections you can choose from, or how to adapt other class abilities into connections, are presented in this blog throughout this week).

Many mystics serve as priests of various gods, and while you can theoretically choose any type of connection with any entity or concept, deities rarely grant connections that don’t fit within their ethos.

Connection Power: At 1st, 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 20th level, the mystic gains a connection power unique to her connection. If a connection power allows a saving throw to resist its effects, the DC is equal to 10 + half the mystic’s class level + her Wisdom modifier. Connection powers are listed with each connection.

Connection Spell: Each connection grants additional spells known, starting at 3rd level and then another every other level thereafter. These spells are in addition to the spells known listed on Table: Mystic Spells Known. The spell level of each spell is listed in each connection’s entry.

Healing Touch (Su): At 1st level, the mystic can heal with a touch. Once per day, as a standard action you can heal a creature touched of 1d6 damage per mystic level. this healing touch does not harm undead or other creatures damaged by positive energy, instead healing them.

Mindlink (Sp): At 2nd level, the mystic can form a mental link with creatures she touch, communicating information rapidly through it. She can use mindlink at will as a spell-like ability, though only once per day on any given individual.

Connection Skill (Su): As the mystic grows in power, her link to her connection grants her supernatural benefits to related skills. At 4th level, the mystic selects two skills associated with her connection (See Connections), and receive a +2 bonus to all checks with that skill. At 8th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, that bonus increases by 2. This bonus does not stack with bonuses to skills from abilities with favored in their title (such as favored enemy and favored terrain), or abilities that function as favored abilities.

Telepathic Bond (Sp): At 11th level, as a standard action, the mystic can form a telepathic link with up to six other willing creatures, allowing her to communicate telepathically at great distances. This functions as telepathic bond, except the duration is permanent. She can have only one telepathic bond active in this way at any given time; creating a new telepathic bond immediately ends the previous one.

Transcendence (Sp): By 18th level the mystic is close to becoming one with her connection. She can cast each of her connection spells once per day without consuming a spell slot. In addition, she learns how to temporarily transcend her physical form. Once per day, she can project her consciousness outside of her physical body in the form of an intangible psychic image of herself. This counts as a 6th-level illusion effect and lasts for a number of rounds equal to her mystic level. While her consciousness is projected, her physical body is considered blind, deaf, and helpless, but she can return to her body as a swift action. She controls her psychic image as though it was her own body, and her senses perceive only what the image can see and hear. She moves with a fly speed of 60 feet and perfect maneuverability. She can pass through solid objects as though she was incorporeal, but she can’t go farther into a solid object than her space (5 feet for a Medium creature). She can’t directly affect physical objects. Her projected consciousness is immune to most attacks or effects, whether or not they affect incorporeal creatures, but mind-affecting effects have their full effect on her, as does any ability that can negate or dispel magic.

The mystic can cast any mystic spell or spell-like ability with a range of touch or greater from her projected consciousness. The spells affect other targets normally. She can’t cast any spells on her projected consciousness except for illusion spells. She need not maintain line of effect to her projected consciousness, but if she crosses into another plane, even momentarily (including via teleportation), her mind immediately returns to her physical body.

Enlightenment (Su): At 2th level the mystic achieves enlightenment, becoming a living incarnation of her connection. She no longer ages, nor does she die of old age. Once per day as a move action, the mystic can enter a state of total communion with her connection that lasts for 1 minute. During this time, she gains a +4 insight bonus to attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks.

I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

ShadowFinder Class Preview: The Enigma

Today, I am going to continue actual OGL rule examples of some material coming in the Starfinder Infinite ShadowFinder book.

I wanted a class to fill the “modern character with weird powers” niche so common in much of the inspirational media that has influenced the form ShadowFinder took. This is more than being a spellcaster, or even something the psionic themetype I wrote up can represent. I needed a class for firestarters, dead zones, shining, heckspawn, and mutants.

I needed a way for a PC to be an enigma. So that because the class.

Here’s a preview of some elements of this new, 100% Starfinder-compatible, character class.

(Yes, I have new ShadowFinder art for all 8 classes I’m supporting in the ShadowFinder Core Book. No, this one is not the enigma. Yes, you’ve seen the enigma digitized tease already. Guess which one it is?!)


An enigma has power, but no one (not even the enigma) is sure why. Unlike spellcasters or combatants, it is not a trained or learned power, and unlike warlocks it is not part of some bargain for power from otherworldly forces. That doesn’t mean the enigma can’t train to use their powers more effectively, or that it might not have been bestowed by an entity beyond the enigma’s understanding, but no science or mystic research has yet to understand enigmas’ abilities, and the growing number of enigmas is seen by many groups as a rising threat.

An enigma has often had to hide for much of their life, at least early on. Their powers are hard to control when they first manifest, and can both disrupt the stability of a support group and attract attention from others. It’s not unusual for an enigma to be the product of some mysterious experiment who escaped, and to be hunted by their former keepers. Others seem to bloom with power on their own, but organizations exist who wish to find the source of that power, even if they have to cut it out of the enigma. As a result, many enigmas learn to be self-sufficient when young, both in urban and wilderness settings.

Once enigmas grow into their abilities, most groups consider opposing an enigma directly to be too dangerous, though organizations with more reach and resources may feel differently. An enigma does well to forge bonds with allies to ensure anyone interest in knowing how they manipulate energy, form, or even reality itself sees that the enigma is not alone, and has friends who will come after them if they disappear.

Hit Points: 6
Stamina Points: 6

Key Ability Score

While no one knows where the power that makes enigmas comes from, the fact that it fueled by their own force of personality seems clear. Enigmas may be bold or shy, honest or deceptive, friendly or hostile, but they all have the strong sense of self that makes them naturally apt at interpersonal relationships. Your Charisma determines the save DCs of your various enigma powers, and is thus your key ability score.

Class Skills

The enigma’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Culture (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Medicine (Int), Mysticism (Wis), Profession (Cha, Int, or Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand(Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis)

Skill Points at each Level: 6 + Int modifier.



Light armor


Basic melee weapons, small arms.

(Yes, I am ending this preview before the class features table on purpose!)

Would You Like To Know More?

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon! This post has an Expanded Version on my Patreon as well, which talks a little about the design philosophy behind secret signs.

D20 Design Diary: Why Do Inquisitors Get Teamwork Feats?

After I posted my draft of a Starfinder version of the PF1 inquisitor class, game designer and industry veteran Ryan Costello asked me a key question (and gave me permission to quote him on my blog about it):

“I noticed you mentioned in the conclusion that you are carrying over the PF1 Inquisitor teamwork feat focus. I always saw it as a strange fit for the theme. Any insight into why the class went that direction and why you are keeping it?”

So, this blog post is essentially my response.

I can only guess at the original design intent behind granting inquisitors bonus teamwork feats and solo tactics (which lets an inquisitor treat their teammates as having the same teamwork feats, making them much more useful) as a class feature in PF 1. While I worked on the book that was was introduced in, it was as a freelancer and all my work was to fill out support sections (archetypes, feats, spells, and so on), rather than do any design work on the base classes themselves. It’s worth noting that book was the APG, which is also where teamwork feats themselves were introduced, so it might be a simply and pragmatic decision to have one of the new classes tie into the new category of feats (as the cavalier class also did), and help differentiate them from clerics.

Of course one of the biggest fictional settings to heavily feature inquisitors is Warhammer 40k, and in that setting most inquisitors have a team of specialized agents that work for them. That doesn’t immediately equal teamwork, but the connection isn’t so tenuous I would discount it.

And you have to give inquisitors some kind of thematic hooks, and real-world examples of things like torture and bigotry don’t lend themselves well to the kind of heroic character Pathfinder mostly assumes players take the roles of. Also, with solo tactics, it’s less that an inquisitor is good at teamwork (working with people), and more that they are good at predicting how both allies and enemies will react in a way so precise they can use teamwork feats even when no one else is trained in those techniques, or even trying to use them. The inquisitor can work off people, taking advantage of their mere presence, almost like a kind of Super Combat Sense Motive.

Ultimately, I included the same thematic ideas because I set myself the task of creating a Starfinder version of the Pathfinder class, and I think this is a key element of that class, regardless of what the original thinking behind it was. But the fact it’s a different ecological niche remains true in Starfinder, which helps differentiate my inquisitor in a game system where there have been only 2 attack bonus progressions and 2 spell progressions to date, so something brand new always helps a class stand apart.

And, of course, since I designed my own teamwork feats, and plan to introduce them in the same book I introduce the final version of the Starfinder Inquisitor, the pragmatic consideration also applies. By putting a class with teamwork feats as a part of their legacy into a book that adds such feats (or, rather, my improved Starfinder versions of those feats) to the game, I am also driving greater engagement with different parts of the book.

(Crowdfunding campaign coming this fall!)


Writing things like this is work, and it takes time from my other paying projects. If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, 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.

d20 Design Diary: How Many Class Options is Enough (Starfinder Inquisitor example)

In the long run, this all comes back to the Starfinder Inquisitor I designed a draft version of. And, as a reminder, if you are a supporter of my Patreon in the timespan from today through tomorrow, you’ll get a slight-revised-and-expanded version of the class as a free pdf!

One common format of d20 game class design is to have selectable options as class features. These may be specializations — things you pick once that then give you fixed abilities as you gain levels (cleric domains, and sorcerer bloodlines are good fantasy examples of this, while mystic connections and operative specializations are the same idea in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game) — or may be a long set of talents that are abilities (some with prerequisites) you get to pick from every few levels (with the ur example being rogue talents, and everything from operative exploits, to mechanic tricks, and soldier gear boosts being iconic Starfinder examples).

These are things like will get endlessly expanded in expansions, campaign settings, houserules, and the blog posts of former-design-leads, so in the long run “enough” is “when the game stops being played.” But when the class is first introduced, you need to decide how many of these choices are presented to begin with. How much is “enough” to feel like there are a range of options with different focuses, themes, and effects. Obviously space constraints are always a downward pressure on these questions, but from a design point of view, you want there to be enough options at launch for players and GMs to have a feel for what kind of things you plan for those options to include, and for characters of the same class to feel different.

So, how much is enough? Well… it depends.

First, if you include bonus feats as choices (or the class feature is nothing but bonus feats, as with the fighter/soldier), you can count that as much more than one entry (depending on how many feats can be selected with the class feature). After that, it’s a question of how many different concepts you want to highlight, and how many such options a single character can take.

In this context, a character can only get a single specialization, so you don’t need as many of them. Talents, otoh, you usually get 5-to-10 of over the course of a single character’s career, so you need more to make sure that no member of the class is forced to pick the same talent as a different character with a different concept.

So, let’s look at the number of such class features that appeared in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, when the classes were first introduced. (I counted these by hand, so I might be off by 1 or 2 on one of these entries — which is fine, since I am looking for an idea of the range of options rather than an exacting tally.)


Improvisations – 28

Expertise talents – 19


Artificial Intelligence – 2 (One being the drone, which has ANOTHER set of selectable options)

Mechanic tricks – 30


Connections – 7

(The mystic also has spells, but that’s a bit different from selectable class features)


Specializations – 7

Exploits – 38


Stellar Mode – 2

Stellar Revelation – 31


Gear Boost – 12

Fighting style – 7

(These are in addition to gaining bonus combat feats at regular intervals, making the soldier highly customizable even with reduced number of gear boosts and fighting styles.)


magic hacks – 31

(The technomaner also has spells, but that’s a bit different from selectable class features)

It’s remarkable how similar some of those numbers are. It’s clear if you have an option that runs most of a class’s 20-level career, such as mystic connections, operative specializations, or soldier fighting styles, you want 7 of them to start. If you are doing talent-like choices, you want 20-40 of them (depending on how much the class depends on them, and how many other custom class features it gets).

So, what do we do with this knowledge?

Let’s apply it to our Starfinder Inquisitor., which is schedule to appear in a “full” version in the book Starfarer’s Companion II.

(Crowdfunding campaign coming this Fall!)

That class has inquisitions, which are very much in the “specialization” category for the kinds of class features we are discussing here. I only have one of those written up for the draft –the Battle Inquisition. I’m not going to have more than at-most one more for the free pdf version going to Patreon supporters, but when I release a “final” version of the class I’ll want 7 of those total. Offhand, I’d likely choose Battle, Madness, Occult, Solar, Technology, Tyrant, and Void for these first 7 slots, to give a wide range of options tied to both common Starfinder tropes, and inquisitor tropes from other science-fantasy fiction.

The class also has inquisitor tactics, which fill our “talent” design space. One of those — Team Tactics — is going to grant option to a range of teamwork feats designed for the class, so we can likely skew toward the lower end of the 20-40 talent number, especially since the class also picks either advanced melee weapon or longarm weapon proficiency at 1st, AND has spells. There are only 10 in the draft, so that number will need to be roughly double in the final version.

Want to see what I add in the slightly-expanded-and-revised pdf for my Patrons?! Back my Patreon now to find out!

Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Bringing It All Together

Okay, all the posts tagged “SF Inquisitor” in August of 2021 show the design and thought process I used to get to this point: a playable draft of the Inquisitor for Starfinder. But it’s hard to play a class spread out over a half-dozen posts, so here are the game things without all the design theory, all in one place (along with things like the text for Weapon Specialization, and true judgment as a capstone).

Anyone who is a member of my Patreon on Aug 31st and Sept 1st, 2021, will also get this as a stand-alone pdfs, slightly revised and expanded.

(Art by Digital Storm)


Hit Points: 6
Stamina Points: 6

Key Ability Score – Wis
Your Wisdom determines your spellcasting ability, the saving throw DCs of your spells, and the number of bonus spells you can cast per day, so Wisdom is your key ability score. A high Strength or Dexterity score can also help you in combat situations.

Class Skills
Athletics (Str), Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Medicine (Wis), Mysticism (Wis), Perception (Wis), Profession (varies), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis)

Skill Points at each Level: 6 + Int modifier.
Light armor, Heavy Armor
Basic melee weapons, grenades, and small arms. Also, when you take your first level of inquisitor, select either advanced melee weapons or longarms to gain proficiency with.

SF Inquisitor Class Features

LevelBase Attack
1+0+2+0+2Inquisition, judgement +1
2+1+3+0+3Detect zealotry, inquisitor tactic
3+2+3+1+3Acumen, adversary codex, weapon specialization
4+3+4+1+4Inquisitor tactic2
5+3+4+1+4Inquisition power, judgement +22
6+4+5+2+5Inquisitor tactic3
8+6+6+2+6Inquisitor tactic32
9+6+6+3+6Inquisition power, judgement +333
10+7+7+3+7Inquisitor tactic432
12+9+8+4+8Inquisitor tactic433
13+9+8+4+8Inquisition power, judgement +4443
14+10+9+4+9Inquisitor tactic4432
16+12+10+5+10Inquisitor tactic4443
17+12+10+5+10Inquisition power, judgement +544432
18+13+11+6+11Inquisitor tactic44432
20+15+12+6+12Inquisitor tactic, true judgment444431


You cast spells drawn from the inquisitor spell list (see the bottom of this article). To learn or cast a spell, you must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell’s level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against your spell is 10 + the spell’s level + your Wisdom modifier.

You can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Your number of spells per day is given on the Inquisitor Class Table. In addition, you receive bonus spells per day if you have a Wisdom modifier of +1 or higher, using the same table as the Mystic in the core rulebook. Note that you only receive these bonus spells once you can cast spells of that level normally. You can also cast 0-level spells. These spells are cast like any other spell, but there is no limit to how many 0-level spells you can cast each day.

Your selection of spells is extremely limited. You begin play knowing one 0-level spell of your choice. At each new inquisitor level, you learn one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Inquisitor Spells Known. Unlike spells per day, the number of spells you know isn’t affected by your Wisdom modifier.

Every time you gain a level, you can swap out one spell you already know and learn a single new spell of the same level in its place. In effect, you lose the old spell in exchange for the new one. You must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time you gain new spells known for the level.

You can cast any inquisitor spell you know at any time, assuming you have not yet used up your allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level. You can also cast a spell using a higher-level spell slot. For instance, if you want to cast a 1st-level spell but have used up all your 1st-level spells for the day, you can use a spell from a 2nd-level slot instead if you have one.

You can also decipher magical inscriptions that would otherwise be unintelligible or, as a full action, identify any spells encoded in a spell gem as a full action. This does not normally invoke the magic contained within, although it may do so in the case of a cursed or trapped spell gem.

SF Inquisitor Spells Known



At 1st level you select an inquisition. This represents the thing that empowers you to strike out against the enemies of your order, faith, creed, people, or philosophy. Each inquisition may be tied to deific powers (for example the inquisition of battle is common among inquisitors that worship gods of war), to your role within an organization (a powerful star crusade may have inquisitors of battle as their elite battlefield commanders), or to your personal nature (a battle inquisitor may simply be driven by a warlike nature and conviction to defeat enemies without any outside force driven them on).

Your inquisition grants you a special power at 1st level, and every 4 class levels thereafter. If an inquisition power has a save DC, the DC is determined as 10 +1/2 your class level + your Wisdom modifier.

While the final version of this class will have multiple inquisitions available, for now there is only one written up, the battle inquisition, which is presented after the other class features and before the inquisitor spell list.

Judgment (Su)

You can focus your disapproval and wrath into a supernatural force that grants you additional might against a specific target. As a move action during combat, you can designate a target to direct your judgment against. Until that target is defeated or you designate a new target, you gain a +1 bonus to your attack and damage rolls against it. This bonus increases to +2 at 5th level, +3at 9th level, +4 at 13th level, and +5 at 17th level.

Additionally, at 1st level attacks you make against the target of your judgement are magical. At 5th level they are aligned to your alignment (for example, if you are chaotic good, your attacks against your judgment target is chaotic and good, bypassing any DR that is bypassed by chaotic or good attacks). At 9th level, they do full damage to incorporeal targets. At 13th level they ignore any DR or energy resistance the target has. At 17th level attacks you make against the target of your judgement do full damage even if the target is normally immune to the damage type the attacks deal.

Detect Zealotry (Sp)

At 2nd level, as a move action, you can detect the presence of strong supernatural forces aligned to a specific alignment. This functions as the detect magic spell, except as noted in this ability. Rather than magic, you can detect the presence of the chaotic, evil, good, and lawful subtypes, and of any spell, weapon fusion, or effect that allows an attack to bypass alignment-related DR (such as the anarchic, axiomatic, holy, and unholy weapon fusions). You can only detect a single alignment subtype or damage type (chaotic, evil, good, lawful) at a time. If you detect an alignment subtype in a creature, it must succeed at a Will save (DC 11 + your key ability modifier), or you learn it’s creature type and any subtypes as well. Once a creature has succeeded at a save against this ability, it need not do so again until you gain a new class level.

Inquisitor Tactics

You learn your first inquisitor tactic at 2nd level, and an additional tactic every 2 levels thereafter. Inquisitor tactics require you to have a minimum inquisitor level, and they are organized accordingly. Some require you to meet additional prerequisites, such as having other tactics.

If an inquisitor tactic has a save DC, the DC is determined as 10 +1/2 your class level + your Wisdom modifier.

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

Cunning Initiative (Ex): When determining your initiative bonus you can use your Wisdom modifier, rather than your Dexterity modifier. If you have 5 or more class levels, when you roll for initiative you can choose to expend 1 Resolve point to roll the d20 twice, taking the best of the two results.

Team Tactics: You gain a bonus Teamwork Feat. (This class feature is specifically designed to work with the teamwork feats I already created for Starfinder–if Starfinder ended up with official teamwork feats, I’d have to see if this needed to be rewritten). If you have 5 or more class levels, you can change who is considered to be on your team as a move action by expending a Resolve Point.

Tracking (Ex): You gain an insight bonus on Survival checks to track equal to your judgement bonus. If you have 5 or more class levels, when you roll a Survival check to track you can choose to expend 1 Resolve point to roll the d20 twice, taking the best of the two results.

Solo Tactics (Ex): You are always considered to have one team member adjacent to you when determining the effects of teamwork feats. You must have selected team tactics to select this inquisitor tactic.

Stern Gaze (Ex): You gain Improved Demoralize as a bonus feat. Additionally, you may use your Wisdom bonus, rather than your Charisma bonus, to determine your total Intimidate skill bonus.

You must be at least 8th level to choose these tactics.

Bane (Su): Your attacks are all considered to benefit from the bane fusion against any creature.

Discern Lies (Sp): You can discern lies, as per the spell, for a number of rounds per day equal to your class level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. Activating this ability is a swift action or a reaction to hearing a statement.

Stalwart (Ex): If you succeed at a Fortitude save against an effect that normally requires multiples successful saves to cure (such as a disease or poison), that effect immediately ends and is cured with a single successful save.

14th LEVEL
You must be at least 14th level to choose these tactics.

Exploit Weakness (Ex): You have learned to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. Whenever your attack roll is a natural 19 or 20 (the die shows a “19” or “20”), that attack ignore any damage reduction or energy resistance the target might have. In addition, if the target has regeneration, the creature loses regeneration on the round following that attack and can die normally during that round.

Greater Bane (Su): Whenever your attack roll is a natural 19 or 20 (the die shows a “19” or “20”), you can apply the stunned critical hit effect to the target. If the attack is a critical hit, you may also apply any one other critical hit effect the attack has. You must have selected the bane inquisitor tactic to select greater bane.

Acumen (Ex)

At 3rd level, your constant and disciplined study of topics related to your mission has given you greater talent with one or more skills. You may select two class skills, which now gain an insight bonus to skill checks equal to your judgement attack bonus. Alternatively you may select one skill that is not a class skill of yours. That becomes a class skill, and gains an insight bonus to skill checks equal to your judgement attack bonus.

You gain an additional acumen at 7th level, and every 4 levels thereafter. Each time you may select two new class skills, or one non-class skill, which gain the benefits of this class feature.

Adversary Codex

You are constantly studying information about possible foes you might face or need to track down. You may have a codex provided by an order you belong to, or may be skilled as searching through the dregs of dark infospheres, sorting fact from wild speculation.

At 3rd level, you can make a special check whenever you want to identify a creature and it’s strengths and weaknesses. This acts as am identify creature task of the appropriate skill to identify the creature (Engineering, Life Science, or Mysticism), using the normal DC for that task, but your check is 1d20 + your Wisdom bonus + (inquisitor level x 1.5). You cannot gain any insight bonuses to this check.

You can also use this check to learn more about a group’s or culture’s leaders and prominent inhabitants, and deities and religious figures, as if using the Culture skill for the recall knowledge task to do so. However, the DC for such checks is 5 higher than it is when suing the actual Culture skill.

Weapon Specialization

You gain the Weapon Specialization feat as a bonus feat for each weapon type this class grants you proficiency with. This includes either advanced melee weapons or longarms (whichever you selected to be proficient with when you gained your first level of inquisitor).

True Judgment

At 20th level, you can level judgment against your foes with barely any effort. Whenever you make an attack, you can change the target of your judgement to be the target of your attack without taking any additional action.



You know the best way to oppose the forces that threaten your chosen order is to face them in violent, final conflict.

Trained for War: At first level, you gain proficiency in advanced melee weapons or longarms (whichever you did not select from the base inquisitor proficiencies) and heavy weapons, and when you gain weapon specialization as a 3rd level inquisitor it applies to these weapons as well. When making attacks with starship weapons, you automatically gain your judgment bonus to attack rolls (but not damage).

Power Fist (Ex): At 5th level, you can wield weapons that normally requires two hands to use in just one hand. This also means you can make attacks with this weapon while grappled (because this is not considered taking an action that requires two hands).

The Tool for the Job (Ex): At 9th level, as part of the first action you take, you can reload any 1 weapon (assuming you have the appropriate ammunition or battery) or change what weapons you are wielding (putting away anything else you were holding as long as it is something you could have dropped). This takes no additional action.

Triple Jeopardy (Ex): At 13th level, when you make a full attack against the target of your judgment, you can make up to three attacks instead of two attacks. You take a –6 penalty to these attacks instead of a –4 penalty.

Deadly Determined (Su): At 17th level, you can focus your will into an attack to increase its effectiveness. Once per round when you roll damage for an attack (including an attack made in starship combat), without taking an additional action you can expend 1 Resolve Point to reroll any damage die that resulted in a 1. You must use the rerolled damage, even if the dice roll more 1s.

Inquisitor Spells


Dancing lights


Detect affliction

Detect magic

Ghost sound

Grave words


Psychokinetic hand


Telepathic message

Token spell

Void whispers


Acidic mist

Akashic download

Akashic tutor

Aqueous form

Baleful polymorph

Build trust

Charm person

Comprehend languages

Confusion, lesser

Control winds

Detect radiation

Detect thoughts

Disguise self

Ectoplasmic barrage


Extra sense




Gloom mote



Hide weapon

Hold portal


Jolting surge

Junk shards

Keen senses

Know coordinates

Life bubble

Mental silence

Necromantic revitalization

Phase blade



Quick change

Remove condition, lesser

Scan environment

Shared evolution

Shrink object

Summon creature


Tectonic shift

Verdant code

Wisp ally


Akashic tutor

Alter corpse

Amorphous form

Aqueous form

Atavistic howl


Baleful polymorph

Benevolent synesthesia

Bioluminescent lure

Body double

Cairn form

Caustic conversion

Cavitation sphere

Command undead

Control winds

Dampening field


Daze monster

Ectoplasmic barrage

Ectoplasmic snare

Ego whip


Extra sense



Flux density

Fog cloud

Force blast

Hold person




Last gasp

Make mischief

Make whole

Mirror image

Necromantic revitalization



Personal gravity


Remove condition

School spirit

See invisibility

Shrink object

Song of the cosmos

Spider climb


Summon creature


Tectonic shift

Venomous weapon


Accelerated adaptation

Akashic tutor

Aqueous form

Arcane sight


Baleful polymorph

Burning ash cloud

Charm monster


Control winds

Death affinity

Dispel magic


Ectoplasmic barrage

Entropic grasp

Etheric shards

Explosive blast

Extra sense



Glimpse of truth


Id insinuation

Intellect fortress


Mental block

Meticulous match

Mind of three

Necromantic revitalization



Pinpoint navigation

Polar vortex


Preserve specimen

Probability prediction

Ray of exhaustion

Remove affliction

Resistant armor, lesser

Selective invisibility

Shifting shadows

Shrink object

Sinking ship


Speak with dead


Summon creature


Tectonic shift


Wall of air



Akashic tutor

Animate dead

Aqueous form

Baleful polymorph

Baleful polymorph, mass

Borrow corruption


Control atmosphere

Control winds

Cosmic eddy


Data dump

Dimension door

Dimensional anchor


Ectoplasmic barrage

Ectoplasmic eruption



Gravity well

Hold monster

Invisibility, greater


Necromantic revitalization

Planar binding


Polymorph, mass


Remove radioactivity

Resilient sphere

Resistant armor

Shadow jump

Shrink object

Song of the cosmos, greater

Summon creature


Wall of fire

Wander warp


Akashic tutor

Aqueous form

Baleful polymorph

Baleful polymorph, mass

Break enchantment

Contact other plane


Crush skull


Dispel magic, greater

Ectoplasmic barrage




Modify memory

Necromantic revitalization


Planar binding


Polymorph, mass

Private sanctum

Raise dead

Rapid repair

Reanimate construct

Remove condition, greater

Resistant aegis

Shadow body

Shrink object

Summon creature

Unwilling guardian

Wall of force


Akashic revival

Akashic tutor

Baleful polymorph

Baleful polymorph, mass


Control gravity

Control undead


Ectoplasmic barrage

Enshrining refuge

Ethereal jaunt

Flesh to stone


Interplanetary teleport

Invisibility, mass

Necromantic revitalization

Planar barrier

Planar binding

Plane shift


Polymorph, mass


Resistant armor, greater

Shadow walk

Shrink object

Star storm

Subjective reality

Summon creature

Summon drift beacons


True seeing


Wall of steel

Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Discipline Becomes Acumen

We’re still working on creating a Starfinder version of the Inquisitor class from PF1 (having already decided what is core to the classwritten up a draft of the basicscreated a spell list, and written up the adversary codexdetect zealot and judgment class features, and taken a first stab at one option for the inquisition class feature). I thought we were done when we did some inquisitor tactics… but I was wrong for two reasons.

First, while writing a short list of sample inquisitor tactics, I came up with tracking, which let an inquisitor add their inquisition value as a insight bonus to Survival when tracking, and at 5th level or higher expend a Resolve point to roll such checks twice and take the better of the two skills. That felt like a great addition, which lead me to thinking maybe every inquisition should automatically have 1 or 2 skills listed that get the same bonus as part of the inquisition. Expanding on that idea wouldn’t require me to write out all the inquisitions I want to use in the final version of the class, but I did want to explore the design space and see if it makes sense.

That quickly had me planning potential inquisitions and listing skills that might be associated with them. I soon realized I needed to think about class skills vs non-class skills. Getting an insight bonus to kills is nice, but the big +3 for putting a rank in a class skill has more impact up until 13th level. So, I thought, maybe each inquisition has either two class skills associated with it (and they get an insight bonus equal to the inquisition’s attack bonus), or has one non-class skill, which both becomes a class skill and gets the insight bonus.

I did a fair amount of work trying to tie either one non-class skill or two class skills to each of a variety of inquisitions; so the Celerity inquisition got just Acrobatics, while the Deceit inquisition got both Bluff and Disguise. But I wasn’t happy with all the pairings (the Flesh inquisition getting Athletics and Medicine was okay except for the name, and I never came up with one I liked better). Some worked great (the Investigation inquisition got Perception and Sense Motive) while others felt forced (the wrath inquisition got Intimidate, which was great, but the structure meant it needed a second class skill, and none were a good fit.)

Second, I began to see some ways in which linking skills to specific inquisitions might make the class less suitable for cooperative play. If a player is extremely excited to have the Starfarer inquisition, which might offer Piloting as a skill… what if some other players is running a character optimized to take the Pilot role in Starship combat? If the inquisitor maxes out the Piloting ranks, they likely still can’t compete with a high-Dex operative, and if the inquisitor ignores the skill, they feel part of their inquisition’s granted powers is useless.

While pondering that question I went back over all my previous posts. looking at old design ideas and notes is a good way to review what lead you to a new design issue. And, while doing so, I discovered I had completely forgotten an entire planned class feature! I had given the draft inquisitor “disciplines,” at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter. But, now that I have versions of inquisitions and inquisitor tactics done, my original idea for disciplines isn’t needed. And if I axe that class feature, the inquisitor has nothing but spell upgrades when gaining levels 7, 11,15, and 19.

BUT! This means I have a concept I want to disconnect from any existing class feature, and a gap where a new class feature needs to go. And thus, discipline gets removed from the SF Inquisitor, and a new feature, acumen, is granted at level 3 and every 4 levels thereafter.

(Art by grandeduc)

Acumen (Ex): At 3rd level, your constant and disciplined study of topics related to your mission has given you greater talent with one or more skills. You may select two class skills, which now gain an insight bonus to skill checks equal to your judgement attack bonus. Alternatively you may select one skill that is not a class skill of yours. That becomes a class skill, and gains an insight bonus to skill checks equal to your judgement attack bonus.

You gain an additional acumen at 7th level, and every 4 levels thereafter. Each time you may select two new class skills, or one non-class skill, which gain the benefits of this class feature.

Support My Patreon
The more support I get, the more time I can spend on writing things like this. 

If you enjoy any of my articles, please sign up, for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month!