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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?!)

Enigma

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
Cha

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.

Proficiencies

Armor

Light armor

Weapons

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!)

Patreon

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.)

Envoy

Improvisations – 28

Expertise talents – 19

Mechanic

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

Mechanic tricks – 30

Mystic

Connections – 7

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

Operative

Specializations – 7

Exploits – 38

Solarion

Stellar Mode – 2

Stellar Revelation – 31

Soldier

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.)

Technomancer

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)

SF INQUISITOR

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.
Proficiencies
Armor
Light armor, Heavy Armor
Weapons
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
Bonus
FortRefWillSpecial1st2nd3rd4th5th6th
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
7+5+5+2+5Acumen32
8+6+6+2+6Inquisitor tactic32
9+6+6+3+6Inquisition power, judgement +333
10+7+7+3+7Inquisitor tactic432
11+8+7+3+7Acumen432
12+9+8+4+8Inquisitor tactic433
13+9+8+4+8Inquisition power, judgement +4443
14+10+9+4+9Inquisitor tactic4432
15+11+9+5+9Acumen4432
16+12+10+5+10Inquisitor tactic4443
17+12+10+5+10Inquisition power, judgement +544432
18+13+11+6+11Inquisitor tactic44432
19+14+11+6+11Acumen44433
20+15+12+6+12Inquisitor tactic, true judgment444431

Spells

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

Level01st2nd3rd4th5th6th
1st1
2nd2
3rd3
4th31
5th32
6th43
7th431
8th432
9th433
10th5431
11th5432
12th5433
13th54431
14th55432
15th55433
16th554431
17th555432
18th555433
19th555443
20th5554441

Inquisition

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.

2nd LEVEL
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.

8th LEVEL
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.

Inquisitions

BATTLE INQUISITION

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

0-Level

Dancing lights

Daze

Detect affliction

Detect magic

Ghost sound

Grave words

Mending

Psychokinetic hand

Starwalk

Telepathic message

Token spell

Void whispers

1st-Level

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

Erase

Extra sense

Fatigue

Fear

Flight

Gloom mote

Grease

Gyre

Hide weapon

Hold portal

Identify

Jolting surge

Junk shards

Keen senses

Know coordinates

Life bubble

Mental silence

Necromantic revitalization

Phase blade

Polymorph

Pressurize

Quick change

Remove condition, lesser

Scan environment

Shared evolution

Shrink object

Summon creature

Swim

Tectonic shift

Verdant code

Wisp ally

2nd-Level

Akashic tutor

Alter corpse

Amorphous form

Aqueous form

Atavistic howl

Augury

Baleful polymorph

Benevolent synesthesia

Bioluminescent lure

Body double

Cairn form

Caustic conversion

Cavitation sphere

Command undead

Control winds

Dampening field

Darkvision

Daze monster

Ectoplasmic barrage

Ectoplasmic snare

Ego whip

Emberstep

Extra sense

Fear

Flight

Flux density

Fog cloud

Force blast

Hold person

Inflame

Invisibility

Knock

Last gasp

Make mischief

Make whole

Mirror image

Necromantic revitalization

Overheat

Paranoia

Personal gravity

Polymorph

Remove condition

School spirit

See invisibility

Shrink object

Song of the cosmos

Spider climb

Status

Summon creature

Swim

Tectonic shift

Venomous weapon

3rd-Level

Accelerated adaptation

Akashic tutor

Aqueous form

Arcane sight

Archive

Baleful polymorph

Burning ash cloud

Charm monster

Clairaudience/Clairvoyance

Control winds

Death affinity

Dispel magic

Displacement

Ectoplasmic barrage

Entropic grasp

Etheric shards

Explosive blast

Extra sense

Fear

Flight

Glimpse of truth

Haste

Id insinuation

Intellect fortress

Irradiate

Mental block

Meticulous match

Mind of three

Necromantic revitalization

Nightmare

Nondetection

Pinpoint navigation

Polar vortex

Polymorph

Preserve specimen

Probability prediction

Ray of exhaustion

Remove affliction

Resistant armor, lesser

Selective invisibility

Shifting shadows

Shrink object

Sinking ship

Slow

Speak with dead

Suggestion

Summon creature

Swim

Tectonic shift

Tongues

Wall of air

Warpwave

4th-Level

Akashic tutor

Animate dead

Aqueous form

Baleful polymorph

Baleful polymorph, mass

Borrow corruption

Confusion

Control atmosphere

Control winds

Cosmic eddy

Creation

Data dump

Dimension door

Dimensional anchor

Dismissal

Ectoplasmic barrage

Ectoplasmic eruption

Fear

Flight

Gravity well

Hold monster

Invisibility, greater

Miasma

Necromantic revitalization

Planar binding

Polymorph

Polymorph, mass

Reincarnate

Remove radioactivity

Resilient sphere

Resistant armor

Shadow jump

Shrink object

Song of the cosmos, greater

Summon creature

Swim

Wall of fire

Wander warp

5th-Level

Akashic tutor

Aqueous form

Baleful polymorph

Baleful polymorph, mass

Break enchantment

Contact other plane

Creation

Crush skull

Dismissal

Dispel magic, greater

Ectoplasmic barrage

Flight

Hailstorm

Mislead

Modify memory

Necromantic revitalization

Passwall

Planar binding

Polymorph

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

6th-Level

Akashic revival

Akashic tutor

Baleful polymorph

Baleful polymorph, mass

Bilocation

Control gravity

Control undead

Disintegrate

Ectoplasmic barrage

Enshrining refuge

Ethereal jaunt

Flesh to stone

Flight

Interplanetary teleport

Invisibility, mass

Necromantic revitalization

Planar barrier

Planar binding

Plane shift

Polymorph

Polymorph, mass

Reanimate

Resistant armor, greater

Shadow walk

Shrink object

Star storm

Subjective reality

Summon creature

Summon drift beacons

Terraform

True seeing

Veil

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.

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Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Inquisitor Tactics

We launch up this week’s work 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) by starting on the very last thing the class is missing – inquisitor tactics.

As a starting point, I’m going to design these to serve as the inquisitor class’s equivalent of operative exploits — roughly the same power level, and exactly the same organization, and therefore the same rules language on introducing them and so on. For starters I only need a few of these. Eventually obviously we’ll want enough to support different kinds of SF Inquisitor PCs, but for now I just want to get in most of the PF1 class’s features we haven’t already included in previous features.

This project also has me considering the evolution of some of my previous design choices. When facing the question of tracking as a tactic, I decided to grant an insight bonus to Survival checks made to track equal to your judgement bonus. Now that I’ve done that I like the idea a lot, and I may choose to add a skill or two to each judgment that gets the same bonus automatically.

(Art by Getmilitaryphotos)

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.

2nd LEVEL
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.

8th LEVEL
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.

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Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Inquisitions

We launch up this week’s work 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 codex, detect zealot and judgment class features) by tackling what is going to be a major part of defining the flavor of any SF Inquisitor — Inquisitions.

In PF1, inquisitions were not originally a core part of the class when introduced in the APG. Instead, each inquisitor got one domain, selected from those offered by their deity. The problem was, with a very different function than clerics, and lacking the bonus domain spell cast and spells known, domains were often terrible choices for inquisitors. This wasn’t clear at first blush, but as the class got more and more play the failings of domains as a noteworthy part of the class becomes increasing obvious as emergent behavior. So, when UM came out, a new option was crafted for PF1 inquisitors — inquisitions. These were built on somewhat different concepts than domains, and granted by specific deities, and were specifically built to be useful to inquisitors.

Most inquisitions had 2 powers (though those with 1 or 3 both exist), and often just gave access to a new options or worked 1ce per day, but had more impact than typical roughly-cantrip-level powers a domain might give at lower levels.

Since I want SF inquisitions to have roughly the same impact as a mystic connection or operative specialization, I want to standardize at what levels each one gives a character something, and at least roughly balance out how potent those are. That’s a trickier design prospect obviously–standardization is often the enemy of flexibility–but it makes later interactions much smoother (such as if we need to swap out the inquisition power gained at a specific level for archetype abilities, or later want to create alternate inquisition powers as choices any inquisitor can take in place of an ability granted at a specific level by their inquisition). This isn’t mandatory, but in my experience the extra work of balancing all of the subchoices you get from a class to give powers of the same usefulness at the same levels is worth it in the long run.

While I’ll want a bunch of inquisitions eventually, all I need to start is one. So, let’s do the Battle Inquisition. This is going to be the most soldier-y of the inquisitions, giving access to more weapon proficiency and specialization, and then having out minor bonuses that may give in edge in specific circumstances, but don’t generally make the inquisitor more effective than a soldier or solarion. Since I want to have multiple minor ability, I put them at the levels when judgment increases its bonus by +1, to make gaining those levels a bit more exciting for a player.

(At by deviney designs)

BATTLE INQUISITION

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.

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Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Judgment

We wrap up this week’s work on creating a Starfinder version of the Inquisitor class from PF1 (during whichwe’ve decided what is core to the classwritten up a draft of the basicscreated a spell list, and written up the adversary codex and detect zealot class features) by defining the core 1st level ability, judgment.

The baseline for this ability is the combat tracking ability of the mechanic’s exocortex class feature. I don’t want it to work exactly the same way, but I am basing the accuracy bonus on the increase to attack rolls from combat tracking. While combat tracking eventually lets you track more and more targets, I’m keeping judgment single-target (which means as you drop foes you’ll always have to take a move to re-judge… and that’s fine. Between that and the class not giving you benefits to attacking multiple times per round (like the soldier, solarion, and operative all get), that action-economy cost means that our SF Inquisitor can hit the same foes frontline fighter characters can, but still isn’t quite as effective in combat (good thing too, given their spell access and skill points), but DOES have an advantage against certain kinds of foes.

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.

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Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: Detect Zealotry

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

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

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

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

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

(Art by likozor)

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

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Designing the Inquisitor for Starfinder: The Fun Stuff Begins

We’re still working on creating a Starfinder version of the Inquisitor class from PF1. We’ve decided what is core to the classwritten up a draft of the basics, and created a spell list.

That is ALL crucial, difficult work, but all it does is create the framework for the class. The success of failure of a new class is mostly decided by how much players enjoy its class features. So, now the fun (and really hard) work begins.

I know each SF Inquisitor gets on inquisition, which will work like the mystic’s connection or operative’s specialization, and that they’ll have tactics and (less often) disciplines to select from. And there’s a strong temptation to leap in to those and start coming up with cool stuff.

But, in my experience, that would be a mistake.

Because we ALSO know that each inquisitor is going to get some static abilities at low level, specifically judgement, detect zealotry, and adversary codex. Since those impact every SF Inquisitor, nailing down the (draft) details of how those work before we start trying to pin down the power level and breadth of the flexible, PC-selected powers makes it much more likely we’ll get those options zeroed in correctly.

So as much fun as inquisitions, tactics, and dedications should be, we aren’t there yet. Instead, we need to define the class features every inquisitor gets. (While keeping an eye on what we’ll ask SF inquisitor’s to give up at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, and 12th level for archetypes).

So, let’s start with the highest level of those, and work our way backwards. Adversary codex needs to be something you are looking forward to getting, but since we’ll also be handing out weapon specialization and the first discipline at that level, it can’t do too much for direct power level or the effect will be overpowering.

Luckily while knowledge is power, it’s a different KIND of combat benefit that more attack or damage bonuses. We want our inquisitors to be read-up on likely foes even fi the player doesn’t invest in a broad range of skills to do so. Starfinder has some specific language about skill tasks, especially identifying creatures and recalling knowledge, so we want to make sure we’re using it correctly if we want to build off of it. (Rather than trust my memory, I pulled up the relevant rules and had them open as I wrote this ability.)

Class Features

The following are class features of the inquisitor.

Adversary Codex (Ex): 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.

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.

(We’ll look at detect zealotry tomorrow.)

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