Starfinder is not just “Pathfinder in space,” it’s its own ttRPG with specific changes (designed to be improvements and/or simplifications of PF1 rules, or to cover issues common in science-fantasy but not traditional fantasy settings). Some people genuinely prefer its core game system to that of PF1, PF2, or 5e, totally aside from the genre and setting (I’m not claiming that’s a MAJORITY of people mind you, or even a big minority, just that such a group exists.)
One of the things that means is, it would be possible to design a pure-fantasy version of Starfinder, specifically for doing the kind of dragon-slaying and dungeon-delving of a typical d20 fantasy RPG. For the moment, let’s call that theoretical game, DungeonFinder.
Ideally, DungeonFinder would be 100% compatible with Starfinder, so if you *wanted* to have androids and lasers show up in DungeonFinder (like they do in official PF1 material and in some fantasy ttRPGs right back to the beginning), you can just grab the appropriate Starfinder material and use it, no changes needed.
To make a pure-fantasy with the normal swords-and-feudal-themes of a typcial fantasy ttRPG work in a 100% Starfinder-compatible setting, you need some way to make tiered fantasy weapons work, using the same higher-level-gear-does-more-damage framework as Starfinder’s SF weaponry.
That’s perfectly possible — higher-level melee weapons simply become masterwork or magic weapons, and deal more damage. Of course everyone will expect to have +1 longswords and so on, just because that’s the terminology the fantasy predecessors to Starfinder have, which isn’t how Starfinder normally works… but as long as we restrict the bonus to damage (rather than attack rolls), we can make it work.
Here’s a sketch of what a set of tiered Longswords might look like, from 1st to about 17th item level.
Advanced Melee Weapons, One-Handed (Longsword)
|Longsword, masterwork||5||3,200||1d10 S||1d6 Bleed||1||analog|
|Longsword, +1||7||8,750||2d6+1 S||1d6 Bleed||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +1 flaming||9||12,750||2d10+1 F & S||1d8 Burn||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +2||9||12,750||2d10+2 S||1d8 Bleed||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +1 holy||11||27,000||4d8+1||2d6 Bleed||1||analog, magic, holy fusion|
|Longsword, +2 flaming||11||27,000||4d8+2 F & S||2d6 Burn||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +3||11||27,000||4d8+3 S||2d6 Bleed||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +2 holy||14||80,000||7d8+2 S||2d8 Bleed||1||analog, magic, holy fusion|
|Longsword, +3 flaming||14||80,000||7d8+3 F & S||2d8 Burn||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +4||14||80,000||7d8+3||2d8 Bleed||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +3 holy||17||250,000||10d8 +3 S||3d6 Bleed||1||analog, magic, holy fusion|
|Longsword, +4 flaming||17||250,000||10d8+4 F & S||3d6 Burn||1||analog, magic|
|Longsword, +5||17||250,000||10d8+5 S||3d6 Bleed||1||analog, magic|
I could carry this concept on through 20th level equipment, but since this is just a thought experiment, there’s no real need to do so.
Of course it would be nice if we could avoid having to do a table for every weapon we put in the game. But it might well be possible to break weapons down into a few categories, and have some standard rules (like “masterwork weapons are item level 5, cost 3,000 gp more, do one die step more damage, and gain a minor critical hit effect”), once we have a few exemplar weapons to work from.
This is very much early days yet, but equipment is absolutely the #1 thing that needs to be worked out to make DungeonFinder work. Some Starfinder classes could be ported over with little more than some new class features)soldiers are fine, just create new gear boosts and fighting styles, similarly envoys, mystics, and operatives envoys take little work), while other classes should be more extensively rewritten, or replaced entirely.
I could also carry this same concept into a theoretical ShadowFinder game…
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So, Monday I posted a big entry with long lists of tables that gave benchmark damage values for weapons of all types at all item levels in Starfinder, and mentioned there were lots of fun things we could do with a list like that. Here’s another one.
We can eliminate weapon damage being primarily determined by item level.
There are lots of good and well-thought out reasons why damage is tied to item levels in Starfinder, and it works great for the core game, but it makes some setting hacks harder to pull off. In particular, it doesn’t work well for genres that encourage players to get attached to specific weapons (the Colt revolver Shanna the Gunslinger left you when she rode back into the Outlands, or the longsword your Grandfather carried in the aberration wars two generations ago, and so on).
So, let’s say we wanted to use Starfinder for a pure fantasy campaign, rather than science-fantasy. Perhaps a game set in Solstice, with charters constantly looking for new dungeons to explore.
We’ll call is DungeonFinder… for now.
And we want people to fight with swords and axes and bows in DungeonFinder, rather than plasma sabers and laser pistols. So, first, we make a few fantasy weapons. (This isn’t an exhaustive list, just a short set of examples).
For now we’ll list the prices in “cr,” which could stand for credits, crown coins, copper reals, or whatever. For this example we can treat 1-handed and 2-handed as properties for now (to keep these on fewer charts), allow boost on things without charges, and list the range increment of thrown weapons after the thrown property.
Basic Melee Weapons
Weapon Item Level Cost Damage Critical Bulk Properties
Club 0 0 cr 1d2 B Knockdown 1 1H, Thrown (10 ft.)
Dagger 1 10 cr 1d3 S L 1 H, Thrown (15 ft.)
Mace 1 25 cr 1d4 B Knockdown 1 1H, Boost (1d4)
Maul 1 10 cr 1d6 B Knockdown 2 2H, Boost (1d6), unwieldy
Spear, light 1 15 cr 1d4 P L 1 H, Reach
Spear, heavy 1 25 cr 1d6 P 1 2 H, Reach
Staff 1 5 cr 1d4 B Knockdown 1 2H, Block
Stiletto 1 50 cr 1d3 P Bleed (1d3) L 1H, Conceal, operative
Torch 1 1 cr 1d2 B & F Burn (1d3) L 1 H, One 1-hour charge
Advanced Melee Weapons
Weapon Item Level Cost Damage Critical Bulk Properties
Battle Axe 1 50 cr 1d6 S Wound 1 1 H, boost (1d6)
Great Axe 1 100 cr 1d10 S Wound 2 2 H, boost (1d6), unwieldy
Great Sword 1 110 cr 2d4 S Bleed (1d8) 2 2 H
Short Sword 1 30 cr 1d6 S Bleed (1d4) L 1 H
Longsword 1 50 cr 1d8 S Bleed (1d6) 1 1 H
Rapier 1 150 cr 1d6 P Demoralize L 1 H, Block, feint, operative
THEN, we say if you are proficient with a weapon, when using it you do either its listed damage, or damage from the appropriate benchmark table using your class level (or perhaps equal to your base attack bonus if we want to give soldiers more of an edge) as the item level.
Magic weapons can have fusions… or really powerful ones could actually do damage at +1 or +2 levels on the benchmark chart.
Slings and throw darts can be Small Arms. Crossbows and longbows Long Arms.
But MAGIC WANDS can be small arms too! Your cogamancer might have a wand of lighting that’s just a 1d6 ranged electricity attack with arc on it…
This allows for a HUGE range of weapons, all of which need only be designed as a single item level, since damage will scale automatically.
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