Blog Archives

Gambling in the Really Wild West (for Starfinder)

Gambling, and being a professional gambler, are common Wild West tropes, so the ideas ought to be supported in the Really Wild West setting hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game (which, after a long rest, is going to start getting regular support from me again!).

On the one hand, those rules ought to include some way to have dramatic gambling scenes for when a game of chance has become crucial to the plot. On the other hand, most people don’t want to have to be good gamblers to play the gambler character (any more than they want to have to be sharpshooters to play gunslingers).

So the rules should be simple, and play to the character sheet as much as the player, while retaining some dramatic tension.

Profession (gambler)

Step one is to explicitly allow “gambler” as an option for the Profession skill. In most cases, a character who wants to make money gambling just uses Profession (gambler). While all professional gamblers can pull from a broad toolbox to make money, the emphasis of their gambling style is determined by what ability score it’s based on. If the skill is Intelligence-based, the gambler depends primarily on knowing the odds and rules of the games, calculating the smart bet and using betting schemes to maximize wins and minimize losses. If the skill is Wisdom-based, the gambler depends more on reading other gamblers and trusting instinctive gut feelings on how to bet. If the skill is Charisma-based, the gambler depends more on bluffing, faking out other gamblers, or using a distraction to cover cheating.

Unlike most Profession skills, a character can make Profession (gambler) checks untrained *thought they cannot use it for the earn a living task if untrained). A player decides what ability score Profession (gambler) is based on when they take their first rank it in (and may choose any ability score if using it untrained).

realweirdwest-gambler-color-01

Casual Gambling

To make things slightly more interesting, a character with Profession (gambling) can use casual betting when making the skill check for the Earn a Living task. The player bets a number of credits equal to their Profession (gambler) skill +10. Then if their skill check for the task (which they may not take 10 on) results in a d20 roll of 2-5, their bet is lost and no money is earned. On a 6-10, they win back their bet, but do not earn any additional income. On an 11-15, they win back their bet and earn credits normally. On a 16 or higher, they win back their bet and earn twice as much as normal for a week’s work. On a natural 1, they lose the bet and lose the same amount of additional credits. (Overall this option is good deal for the player.)

Once a character has used this option for a week in a settlement and made money doing so, it’s not normally available again for at least a month (as locals have learned better than to play with the character). A GM may modify this rule for cities with lots of gambling, very large settlements, and times when numerous new potential gambling partners are appearing regularly.

Dramatic Gambling

Dramatic gambling is only used when the GM calls for it, and normally only when there’s more on the line than just credits. This is the option when the master villain insists on playing poker to see who wins the blood-soaked contract that sells a soul to a devil, or a neutral third party won’t sell the crucial material for a required ritual, but will gamble for it. Unless all the players are gamblers (or find interacting with the dramatic betting rules interesting), this should be as rare as any other focus most players can’t interact with—it’s fine as a spotlight scene or a change of pace, but you shouldn’t build regular encounters out of these rules unless your players know the campaign is going to have a gambling focus.

Dramatic gambling can be done with Bluff, Culture, Diplomacy, Profession (gambling), or Sleight of Hand (with potential consequences). Characters must make multiple checks during a dramatic gambling event, usually using at least two different skills. Most of these skills cannot be used more than once during a dramatic gambling event. The exceptions to this are Profession (gambling) and Sleight of hand, which may always be used. If a character decides to use Sleight of Hand they are choosing to cheat, and all participants and bystanders are allowed to make an opposed Perception check with a -5 penalty and, with a successful check, spot the character cheating.

The Stakes

Before any rolls are made, the gambling event’s stakes must be determined. This can be as simple as an amount of money risked by each participant, but for dramatic gambling events it’s equally likely to be some sort of plot point. For example, if the PCs are trying to convince the Cattle Duke of Montana to allow them to lay train tracks through his grazing lands, the Duke might decide the issue is settled by a high-stakes game of Red Dog, as represented by a dramatic gambling event. Similarly, if the specific player is trying to pick up a legendary item using renown, a GM might decide the final task needed to do so is a throw of the dice with Death herself… again, as a dramatic gambling event.

If the stakes are money, the winner gets to double their stake, and everyone else loses their stake (any “unwon” money goes to the house, which is never a PC). If the stakes are more plot driven the GM should be clear about the consequences of winning and losing. The PCs convince the Cattle Duke to allow their train through his territory if they win, and lose any chance of a peaceful settlement of the problem if they lose. The PC wins a legendary weapon from Death with a win, and gains a temporary negative level with a loss.

Stakes should also include the cost of folding. A character can fold until the Final Reveal. Normally folding costs you half your stakes, though for dramatic gambling where the stakes are more conceptual, the GM should just establish stakes that are half as bad as loosing (the Duke won’t work with you, but will allow you to keep trying to find a new deal he likes better. Death doesn’t give you the legendary item, but the negative level only lasts 1d6 days.)

The First Deal

Once stakes are set, the First Deal is made. This represents how good a position each participant begins with in the gambling. This need not be one hand of cards, or even cards at all. It could represent luck in the first spin of a roulette wheel, how good information about a horse is, or the value of an initial die roll in a gambling dice game.

Each participant in the event rolls a d20 in secret. The die is set aside for the moment. The First Deal is used to determine the final winner of the dramatic gambling event, but not yet.

No abilities that affect d20 reroll can be used on another character’s First Deal, including things like rerolls, unless the character using the ability has successfully Read the d20 result first. Any participant can attempt to Read another participant’s First Deal with a successful use of the detect deception task of Sense Motive check. This can be attempted once after the First Deal, once after the First Deal, and once after the Raise Round, each time looking at a single participant’s First Deal. On a successful check, the raw d20 result of the First Deal is revealed. Once you use Sense Motive to attempt to Read a First Deal you can’t use Sense Motive for any other purpose during the dramatic gambling event.

The GM can ask to see anyone’s First Deal die result, but can’t have NPCs act based on that knowledge without successfully using an ability to Read it.

Raise Round

After the First Deal, comes the Raise Round. Each player makes one d20 roll in the open. Then, from lowest die result to highest, each participant chooses a skill to add the bonus of to d20 roll. Characters can only use their ranks + ability score for this bonus, unless they state they are using some other rule that affects it, such as a class feature, feat, racial ability, spell, or item. (Using spells or items is always considered cheating, and requires a Stealth check opposed by all bystander’s and participant’s Perception checks, to do so without being noticed). Any such ability that affects a die roll or skill bonus can only be used once at any point in the dramatic gambling event. If an operative decides to add operative’s edge to a skill check for the Raise Round, it cannot be used again in the Final Round, even for a different skill.

Once each participant has done this, and the current result of all the raise Round skill checks are known, in the same order characters may choose if they wish to change to a new skill (perhaps one with a higher bonus), or to add an ability that can impact the Raise Round skill check. If anyone does so, another round of potential chances to skills used and class features is taken, repeating until all players pass.

Any skill or ability used in this process cannot be used again in the Final Round.

The winner of the Raise Round is allowed to roll an additional d20, in the open. In the Final Round, that player can use his original First Deal d20 check, or the new d20 roll. This decision need not be made until all the Final Round actions are completed, and everyone’s First Deal is revealed.

If two or more character’s Raise Round skill check totals are tied for the highest total at the end of the Raise Round, whichever character got to that total first wins the round.

At any point in the Raise Round, a participant may Fold, in which case they lose half their stakes (or suffer the more minor penalty, for dramatic gambling events with nonmonetary stakes.)

Final Round

In the Final Round, participants go in reverse order of the order used in the Raise Round. Each participant chooses a skill and declares what their total bonus for that skill is, but do NOT yet reveal what their total is with their First Deal die.

As with the Raise Round, after every participant has declared a skill and any abilities they wish to use to boost it, another round is held where characters may swap to new skills or add new abilities. After each round, characters may Fold, as with the Raise Round.

After everyone passes, everyone in the same order decides to Fold or Call.

Everyone who Calls reveals their First Deal d20 roll, adds their total bonus, and the highest total wins. Whoever won the Raise Round may swap to their second d20 roll in place of their First Deal roll after seeing everyone else’s total. In case of a tie, the character with the highest number of ranks in their chosen skill wins (better good than lucky). If there is still a tie, everyone tied rolls a d20 and the highest result wins.

Example of Play

Alex (a soldier), Janye (an operative), and Stan (an envoy) are playing out a dramatic gambling event. They establish stakes, 100 credits each.

Each of them makes a First Deal roll. Alex gets a 4, Jayne a 7, and Stan a 17, but none of those die results are revealed.

Alex decides to attempt to Read Stan’s First Deal die roll. Alex makes a Sense Motive check, opposed by Stan’s Bluff check. Alex succeeds, and learns Stan’s hidden die roll is a 17. Alex now can’t use Sense Motive for any purpose in this dramatic gambling event other than attempting another Read check after the Raise Round.

For the Raise Round, Alex, Jayne, and Stan each make another d20 roll this time in the open. Alex gets a 15, Jayne an 11, and Stan a 10. Since Stan rolled the lowest, he is the first to declare a skill total. Since he knows he has a 17 as his First Deal, he decides to use a lower skill here and states his using Diplomacy, which is +8, for a Raise Round total of (d20 roll 10 + 8) 18.

Jayne goes next. She has Profession (gambling) at +12, and is an operative with another +2 from operative’s edge. She can use Profession for both her die rolls, but can only apply her operative’s edge to one of them. Knowing she has a First Deal roll of 7, she’d like to win the Raise Round to get a reroll, but hopes she won’t have to use operative’s edge to do it. So she uses her Profession skill without her+2 operative’s edge, getting a total of (d20 roll 11 +12) 23.

Alex has a Raise Round result of 15, and knows his First Deal result is 4 and Stan’s is 17. His best skill is Culture, which is +12, and his second-best is Diplomacy, which is +9. He feels he must get the reroll in the Raise Round to have any hope of winning, and isn’t sure using Diplomacy is good enough. It would get him a 24, better than  Jayne’s current total, but if she has any abilities to boost her result she could beat him. Alex decides to use his Culture to get a total of (d20 roll 15 +12) 27.

Everyone has a chance to change their skills now, again beginning with Stan. Stan decided he wants to prevent Alex or Jayne from getting the reroll from winning the Raise Round, even if he doesn’t need it, so he switches to his Bluff, which has a +12 bonus and gives him the option of adding a +1d6+1 expertise die. Stan decided to use the expertise die now, and rolls a (1d6 roll 4 +1) 5, giving him a +17 bonus for this skill check. That gives him a (d20 roll 10 +17) 27 total as well. However since Alex got that result first, he wins the tie.

No one else wants to use any other skills, so Alex wins the Raise Round. He makes a d20 Raise Roll in the open, getting a 12. Now he can use either his original First Deal result of 4, or his Raise Roll of 12, for the Final Round.

On the Final Round, participants go in reverse order of their Raise Round totals (Jayne 23, Stan 27, Alex 27). Each announced their skill total, but does not yet reveal their First Deal die. Jayne knows Alex has a Raise Roll result of 12 he can use, and she knows her own First Deal roll is a 7. She declares she is using Profession (gambling) again, which gives her a +12 bonus, and that she is using operative’s edge (there’s no reason not to), for a total of a +14 bonus.

Stan used his best skills (Bluff and Diplomacy) and his skill expertise class feature, so his best remaining option is to use his weaker Sense Motive skill, at +7.

Alex knows he has a Raise Roll of 12, but his best remaining skill is diplomacy at +9.

No one has any additional abilities to add or better skills to switch to, the everyone passes.

Jayne then must decide to Fold or Call. She has a skill bonus of +14 and a First Deal die roll of 7, so she knows her total is 21. She also knows Alex has at least a 12 (his visible Raise Roll) and a bonus of +7, also a 21. She thinks she has more ranks in Profession (gambling) than Alex has in Diplomacy, so she calls.

Stan has a skill bonus of +7, and a First Deal die roll of 17, for a total of 24. But he is afraid Jayne’s much higher skill bonus makes her more likely to win. He folds, and loses half his stakes (50 credits).

Alex thinks Jayne must have a really bad First Deal die roll, so he Calls.

Jayne and Alex then reveal their totals. They are tied at 21, but Jayne DOES have more ranks in her skill than Alex has in his, so she wins. Alex loses all his stake, and Jayne doubles her stake.

Enjoy this content?
Back my Patreon to support the creation of more of it!
https://www.patreon.com/OwenKCStephens

Advertisements

Starfinder Roleplaying Game Monster Design Notes—Spellcasting Creatures, Western Rakshasa

We’re going to take a pause from the Multiclass ThemeType rules, to pick up a thread from a few weeks ago when I was discussing how to make creatures and NPCs using the Starfinder Roleplaying Game monster creation rules. I already did two entries in this series using Really Wild West creatures as examples—the grizzly boar for the combatant array, and the rattle-cat for the expert array.

Now, it’s time to talk about the spellcaster array, and for that, we need something special.

Western Rakshasa

Rakshasa are native outsiders—that is they are inhuman creatures of supernatural power, that are born in and native to the mortal world. They are among the more powerful and feared threats of Southern Asia, and plagued that section of the world of the Really Wild West for centuries before anyone in Europe or the Americas knew anything at all about them. Rakshasa are generally born to a rakshasa parent and a humanoid parent and few rakshasas immigrate out of South Asian, keeping their population elsewhere low. But there is a second circumstance where a rakshasa can be born—when human parents are exposed to great evil and cruelty and kept away from holy places, practices, and people, sometimes an reincarnated evil spirit is drawn to their misery, and born as a rakshasa in a concealed guise as the same race as its parents.

Sadly, the fact that the United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790 denied citizenship to all immigrants not of white lineage, and most South Asians who were brought to North America served as low-paid farm workers, often lead to situations where the immigrants were forbidden to practice their own religions, suffered cruelty and evils committed upon them, and were even sometimes imprisoned and used for experimentation by Caucasians seeking to gain more power through the expanding arts of theosophy and mad science.

As a result, in the mid 1800s, the first natural born western rakshasa began to appear.

Such creatures are natural deceivers, planners, leaders, and generally power hungry. They learn how to manipulate social systems to their advantage while just children, and are not above arranging horrible fates for their communities in order to be found as “lone survivors,” and adopted by wealthier, more affluent families, While some settle in to urban areas to gain political and economic power in increasingly large cities, others prefer to head to the frontier, to carve their own empires out of the wilderness as cattle barons, marshals, regional governors, and even the unquestioned leaders of outlaw gangs.

While an infant rakshasa might be less powerful than the CR 5 given here as a minimum, such a creature would never risk exposing itself. Any rakshasa willing to operate in any open manner is at least a young adult, and no less than CR 5. Western rakshasa are no more powerful or organized than their South Asian brethren, but they have grown to be one of the greatest threats any Really Wild West adventurer might encounter.

In their natural form, rakshasa have the appearance of anthropomorphic animals, usually predators, and have some joint or joints backwards from a human. The use of  tiger-headed rakshasa with backwards-curling hands in the spectacularly popular 1897 Mark Twain novel “The Chronicle of Young Rakshasa,” where Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer encounter and must drive away a powerful Satan-like figure (who claims to be the “youngest of 44 master rakshasa”), has caused the common view of rakshasa to be exclusively this version, to the point that some rakshasas take the form when wishing to impress, even if they actually have different animals-features and reversed joints.

Rakshasa Gunslinger - JEB

Building and Defining a Spellcaster

Spellcaster arrays are for creatures that should first and foremost be seen as users of supernatural powers. They gain either spell-like abilities or spellcasting automatically, allowing them to use such powers for offense and defense, while still having other special abilities to make them unique and interesting. Anytime you are making an NPC mystic or technomancer, you want to use the spellcaster array and the appropriate class graft, in addition to any creature graft.

But in this case, we’re going to write up creatures that have innate spellcasting abilities, as natural to them as their unholy blood.

As with the creatures we designed in the previous entries, we want to create a template graft, that a GM can use to create rakshasas of any appropriate CR. So, the final template graft looks like this:

WESTERN RAKSHASA TEMPLATE GRAFT (CR 5+)

Required Array: Spellcaster
Required Type: Outsider
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: Medium
Speed: 40 feet
Ability Score Modifiers: Dexterity, Charisma, Strength
Special Abilities: 0-Spellcasting (mystic and technomancer). 1- Change Shape (see below). Damage Reduction (equal to CR x 1.5, bypassed by good). 3- Detect thoughts (see below). 4-Spell Resistance (equal to CR +15).
Key Spells: 1st charm person, magic missile; 2nd caustic conversion, invisibility, 3rd arcing surge, holographic image
Skills: Master– Bluff; Good-Diplomacy, Sense Motive
Attacks: Multiattack melee (bite, two claws), melee weapon, ranged weapon.
Detect Thoughts (Su): A rakshasa can detect thoughts as per the spell of the same name. It can suppress or resume this ability automatically at the beginning of its turn. When a rakshasa uses this ability, it always functions as if it had spent three rounds concentrating and thus gains the maximum amount of information possible. A creature can resist this effect with a successful Will save.

To make this monster, a GM just takes the spellcaster array for the desired CR of the end monster, adjusts the numbers as noted for the outsider type, and enters those values in a stat block as directed by the template graft.

There are a few things to look out for with rakshasa. First, since they use the spellcaster array, they get spellcasting automatically, and you need to pick their spells known. The template graft offers some “key spells,” but that’s largely just to save you time and give you a feel for what a typical rakshasa of this type is likely to focus on. Feel free to deviate from this list if you wish. Also, the stat block doesn’t bother with 1st level spells, because the rakshasa is unlikely to run out of higher-level options during a typical fight. This is the same logic for giving it unlimited 2nd-level spells per day. If for some reason you need to know exactly how many lower-level spells an npc has, check out the rules in Starfinder Pact Worlds.

Secondly, as a tool user, the rakshasa needs weapons. The easy options is to pick melee and ranged weapons that are about 10th item level. The same applies if you plan to give them armor, though rakshasa don’t really need it, and it doesn’t impact their AC anyway (you give a creature armor if it makes sense for the creature to have armor, or if you want to use it as PC loot, of if you want them to have an armor upgrade—which may also serve as loot). Since this is a Really Wild West rakshasa I gave it a damascus repeating shotgun and limited it’s pistols to 6 rounds each, but you could swap that out for any weapons appropriate to your setting.

Finally, I gave them multiattack. That allows them to forgo using a melee weapon to make a series of natural melee attacks. Read the multiattack rules on how to figure out their damage and attack rolls, but this only matters if they take a full attack routine. They can just use their melee weapon to make a normal attack.

Here’s what a CR 10 western Rakshasa (one of the most dangerous things in all of the Really Wild West) looks like, for example.

Rakshasa, Western                                 CR 10          [SPELLCASTER]
XP 9,600 each
LE Medium Outsider (evil, native, rakshasa, shapechanger)
Init +8 Senses darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +19
DEFENSE     HP 140
EAC 22; KAC 23
Fort +9; Ref +11; Will +13
Defensive Abilities DR 15/good
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee +17 microserrated longsword (2d10+13, critical bleed 2d6)
Multiattack bite +11 (1d10+13 P), 2 claws +10 (1d10+13 S)
Ranged +19 damascus repeater shotgun (3d8+10 P) or
+19 elite revolving pistol (3d6+10 P)
Technomancer Spells Known (CL 10th) DC 18
  4th (3/day)greater invisibility, mind thrust (DC 22)
3rd (6/day)
arcing surge (DC 21), charm monster (DC 21), holographic image (DC 21),
    lesser resistance armor
2nd (at will)
caustic conversion (ranged attack +18), invisibility
STATISTICS
Str +3; Dex +8; Con +3; Int +1; Wis +1; Cha +8
Skills Bluff +24, Diplomacy +19, Sense Motive +19
Languages Aklo, Common, Infernal
Other Abilities change shape
Gear Damascus repeater shotgun with 12 slugs and 12 shot, two elite revolving pistols with 36 rounds, microserrated longsword, 2 mk II serums of healing
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Change Shape (Su): As a standard action, a rakshasa can physically alter its form to look like any Medium humanoid or outsider, as long as it has seen a similar creature before. It can attempt to either mimic a specific creature or look like a general creature of any humanoid subtype it is familiar with. The rakshasa gains a +10 bonus to Disguise checks to appear as a creature of the type and subtype of the new form. The DC of the rakshasa’s Disguise check is not modified as a result of altering major features or for disguising themselves as a creature of a different type. The rakshasa can remain in an alternate form indefinitely (or until it takes another form).

 Patreon
Posts like this are only possible with the support of my patrons, through my Patreon page! If you like these posts, why not become a patron too?!

Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Mystic)

Since we’ve spent this week introducing the Multiclass ThemeType concepts, providing examples for envoy, mechanic (with drone), mechanic(with exocortex), operative, and technomancer, and name-dropping the Really Wild West, we’re actually pretty close to handling all the core rulebook classes at this point. Since we’ve presented a way to use Multiclass ThemeTypes with spellcasting classes, let’s present the mystic!

Mystic ThemeType

You draw power of a supernatural connection to… something. It may be your faith in a divine force or philosophy is strong enough to grant you power, despite the majority of your training being elsewhere. Or you may have some innate connection, to psychic powers, the fundamental forces of the universe, or an ancient  secret once discovered by an alien race now dead for millions of years. Whatever the source, it channels real power through you.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Mysticism, Sense Motive, or Survival. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Minor Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 2nd Level): Select one 1st level mystic spell. You can cast this spell once per day. Select two 0-level mystic spells. You can cast these spells at will. Your caster level for all mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType is equal to your character level, and you use your key ability score for all calculations that normally draw on the mystic’s key ability score.

Basic Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 4th Level): Select two 1st level mystic spells. You have two 1st-level mystic spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 1st-level mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 1st level spell you gained from minor mysticism. Also select a third 0-level mystic spells. You can cast this spell at will.

Minor Connection (Theme, 6th Level): You gain either the healing touch or mind link mystic class feature. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed You treat your character level as your mystic level for all class features gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Intermediate Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 6th Level): Select one 2nd level mystic spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Advanced Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 9th Level): Select two 2nd level mystic spells. You have two 2nd-level mystic spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 2nd-level mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 2nd level spell you gained from intermediate mystic.

Basic Connection (Theme, 12th Level): You gain the connection mystic class feature, for one connection of your choice, though you only have access to its 1st level connection ability. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. You do not gain the connection skill ability, but do add the 1st level connection spell to the spells you can use your 1st level mystic Mutliclass ThemeType spell slots to cast.

Greater Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 12th Level): Select one 3rd level mystic spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Greater Connection (Theme, 18th Level): You gain the 3rd level connection power of your connection, and add the 2nd and 3rd level connection spells to the list of spells you can use your mystic Mutliclass ThemeType spell slots to cast.

Full Mysticism (Sp, Archetype 18th): You replace all your mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType with 4 0-level spells known, 4 1st-level spells known, 3 2nd-level spells known, 2 3rd-level spells known, and one 4th-level spell known. You can cast the 0-level spells at will, and have three 1st-level spell slots, two 2nd-level spell slots, two the connection 3rd-level spell slots, and one 4th-level spell slot.

Patreon

Posts like this are possible thanks to my patrons’ support. If you enjoy any of the content I create, please consider joining my patreon!

Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Operative)

Since we’ve spent this week introducing the Multiclass ThemeType concepts, providing examples for envoy, mechanic (with drone), mechanic(with exocortex), and technomancer, and name-dropping the Really Wild West, it seems a good idea to keep that momentum with another class that has abilities that are difficult to scale—the operative!

Operative ThemeType

You have extensive training in the arts of spying, stealth, subterfuge, or a combination of all of those. It’s not your primary area of expertise, but then, isn’t actually being good at something else entirely the best possible way to maintain your cover?

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain either Bluff or Stealth as a class skill. If you have both of these as class skills from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to one of the two skills. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

If you select Bluff, you may use your Bluff skill bonus as your Stealth skill bonus, and are considered trained in Stealth. If you select Stealth, you may use your Stealth skill bonus as your Bluff skill bonus, and are considered trained in Bluff.

Minor Trick Attack (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the operative’s trick attack ability, subject to all of that class feature’s requirements. Your trick attack does not deal any additional damage, but on a successful skill check it does cause your target to be flat-footed against your attack.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): You gain one operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd level operative exploits. You treat your character level as your operative level for all operative exploits gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Edge (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You gain a +1 insight bonus to all skill checks, and to initiative checks.

Basic Trick Attack (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): Your trick attack now deals 1d8 additional damage for every three full character levels you have.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain one additional operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd level operative exploits.

Improved Edge (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): Your insight bonus to all skill checks and initiative checks increases to +2.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): You gain one additional operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd level or 6th level operative exploits.

Greater Edge (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): Your insight bonus to all skill checks and initiative checks increases to +3.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 18th Level): You gain one additional operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd, 6th, or 10th-level operative exploits.

Patreon

Posts like this are possible thanks to my patrons’ support. If you enjoy any of the content I create, please consider joining my patreon!

Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Technomancer)

So we’ve presented the Multiclass ThemeType (which uses your theme and an archetype to present an alternate method of multiclassing), and provided examples for the envoy, drone-using mechanic, and exocortex-using mechanic. We’ve even name-dropped the Really Wild West setting hack, for people who are most excited about weird west options.

So, let’s talk multiclass spellcasting.

The Starfinder Roleplaying Game has a number of ways to get just a little magic power, including your race, theme, and archetype, and even combines your caster level among all your spellcasting classes is you happen to multiclass into more than one spellcasting class. But it’s still difficult to have spellcasting be a secondary, but major and ongoing, part of your overall character build. A character that adds just a few levels of solider gets abilities that retain their usefulness throughout a campaign. A character that takes a few levels of technomancer quickly find those options fall way the curve. At the same time, you obviously can’t have a few class levels give you access to the highest-level spells in the game, or the power boost involved is more than a few levels should grant.

The technomancer Multiclass ThemeType tries to get just the right balance, making sure your sacrifices of core class abilities from your archetype’s alternate class features reward you enough to be worthwhile, without making you overpowered.

Technomancer ThemeType

While you haven’t had the opportunity to master the ways theosophy and technology can be blended, you haven dabbled in the area. You understand the basics of how hybrid items function, and how to cast some small number of technomagical spells.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Mysticism. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Minor Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 2nd Level): Select one 1st level technomancer spell. You can cast this spell once per day. Select two 0-level technomancer spells. You can cast these spells at will. Your caster level for all technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType is equal to your character level, and you use your key ability score for all calculations that normally draw on the technomancer’s key ability score.

Basic Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 4th Level): Select two 1st level technomancer spells. You have two 1st-level technomancer spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 1st-level technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 1st level spell you gained from minor technomagic. Also select a third 0-level technomancer spells. You can cast this spell at will.

Magic Hack (Theme, 6th Level): You gain one magic hack, selected from the list of 2nd level technomancer magic hacks. You treat your character level as your technomancer level for all magic hacks gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Intermediate Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 6th Level): Select one 2nd level technomancer spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Advanced Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 9th Level): Select two 2nd level technomancer spells. You have two 2nd-level technomancer spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 2nd-level technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 2nd level spell you gained from intermediate technomagic.

Improved Magic Hack (Theme, 12th Level): You gain one magic hack, selected from the list of 2nd level or 5th level technomancer magic hacks.

Greater Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 12th Level): Select one 3rd level technomancer spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Greater Magic Hack (Theme, 18th Level): You gain one magic hack, selected from the list of 2nd, 5th, or 8th-level technomancer magic hacks.

Full Technomancy (Sp, Archetype 18th): You replace all your technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType with 4 0-level spells known, 4 1st-level spells known, 3 2nd-level spells known, 2 3rd-level spells known, and one 4th-level spell known. You can cast the 0-level spells at will, and have three 1st-level spell slots, two 2nd-level spell slots, two 3rd-level spell slots, and one 4th-level spell slot.

Patreon

Posts like this are possible thanks to my patrons’ support. If you enjoy any of the content I create, please consider joining my patreon!

Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (exocortex Mechanic)

We covered the basic idea behind Multiclass ThemeTypes in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, talked about why they are especially good for Really Wild West campaigns, and presented two example of how it works—the Envoy and the drone Mechanic. That, of course, immediately suggests there should be an exocortex mechanic Multiclass ThemeType.

And there is! 😊

Mechanic (exocortex) ThemeType

You have an extremely advanced combat brain implant. It may not be the absolute best hardware in existence, but it’s much better than anything you can buy off-the-shelf.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Physical Science. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Physical Science. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Basic Combat Training (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain proficiency in either longarms, or heavy armor. If you select proficiency in longarms, this counts as a proficiency granted by your class for purpose of weapon specialization class feature.
If you already have proficiency with both longarms and heavy armor, you instead gain Weapon Focus with longarms as a bonus feat.

Basic Combat Tracking (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): Your exocortex provides you with enhanced combat ability. As a move action during combat, you can designate a foe for your exocortex to track. As long as that target is in sight, the exocortex feeds you telemetry, vulnerabilities, and combat tactics, allowing you to reduce one penalty you take to attacks against that target by 1. Designating another target causes you to immediately lose this bonus against the previous target.

Basic Memory Module (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You can use your exocortex’s memory module to enhance your own knowledge. Once per day, as a reaction while not in combat, you can reroll a failed skill check to recall knowledge.

Improved Combat Tracking (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): Your combat tracking ability can now allow you to treat your base attack bonus from this class as being 1 higher (to a maximum of 1 less than your class level), rather than reducing one penalty to attack rolls against the target by 1 point.
If your base attack bonus from this class is so high that this gives you no benefit, and you are talking no penalties to your attack rolls, instead when using combat training you add half your Intelligence bonus (minimum +1) to damage done with weapon.

Wireless Hack (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain the wireless hack ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature, though your range is only 10 feet.

Exocortex Trick (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): You gain one mechanic trick, selected from the mechanic tricks of 8th level or less that grant an ability to your exocortex (such as neural shunt or overclocking).

Exocortex Mod (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): Your exocortex allows you to apply any one of the following drone mods to yourself as if you were a drone with that mod installed: armor slot, cargo rack, climbing claws, enhanced senses, hydrojets, jump jets, resistance, smuggler’s compartment, speed, or weapon proficiency (gaining proficiency in advanced melee or heavy weapons).

Twin Tracking (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You gain the twin tracking ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature.

Advanced Combat Tracking (Ex, Archetype, 18th Level): When using the combat tracking ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature, you treat your base attack bonus from this class as being 2 higher (to a maximum of 2 less than your class level), or reduce one penalty to your attack roll by 2.
If your base attack bonus from this class is so high that this gives you no benefit, and you are talking no penalties to your attack rolls, instead when using combat training you add your Intelligence bonus (minimum +2) to damage done with weapon.

Patreon

I have a Patreon, which supports this blog. My patrons are how I can take time to make posts like these. They also sometimes get preview material not yet available anywhere else. Today, for example, they get access to a third mechanic Multiclass ThemeType—the technician—which allows a character to access some of the abilities mechanics get besides drones and exocortexes, but doesn’t have any version of the artificial intelligence class feature.

If you join at any level, you can check it out here!

Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (drone Mechanic)

We covered the basic idea behind Multiclass ThemeTypes in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, talked about why they are especially good for Really Wild West campaigns, and presented one example for the Envoy. That, of course, leaves six more classes to cover just to expand the concept to the classes in the core rulebook. Alphabetically, after envoy, that would bring us to the mechanic.

And we immediately run into a problem.

One of the core things someone wishing just a little of the utility of the mechanic might want is a drone. It IS possible to build a ThemeType that gives you access to a drone… but unless that drone very quickly becomes useless, it can’t do much of anything else. So if we build a mechanic ThemeType that handles drones well, it’s not likely to handle exocortexes or generic mechanic hacks well. It could be done by having every choice at every level being one of three options, but then either what you do at 1st level locks you in to just one of those choices at every level, or you’d have the choice of only occasionally selecting a drone upgrade, which very quickly makes the drone too weak to be of any use for the character.

Ultimately, it seems best to just accept that if you want a drone, that’s pretty much all you are getting from that ThemeType, and break the mechanic into multiple ThemeTypes. This also promotes more spotlight protection for a core mechanic. If a group has a mechanic with an exocortex, a player taking the Mechanic (drone) ThemeType doesn’t overlap at all with the true mechanic. Similarly, if a full mechanic does take a drone, it’ll be obvious among all the players that selecting this ThemeType may step on the mechanic’s toes, hopefully leading to an adult and rational conversation where GM and other players all work out how to proceed to everyone has fun.

A group COULD decide everyone is going to have a drone, for example, and make that a unifying theme of their adventuring party. As long as the mechanic player liked that idea, and everyone else was fine with the fact that the mechanic’s drone is always going to be noteworthily better than theirs.

And now, without further ado, we present the Mechanic (drone) ThemeType.

Mechanic (drone) ThemeType

You may not be the universal miracle-worker or mechanics that some people manage, but you have built a unique drone AI ally that is way beyond what can be bought off the rack. It’s maybe never going to be quite as good as a full mechanic’s drone, but it’s better than what any other non-mechanic can manage.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Physical Science. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Basic Drone (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the drone version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature. Your effective mechanic level is equal to your class level –1, to a maximum mechanic level of 3rd. You do not gain any other mechanic class features, but your drone does gain drone special abilities, feat, and drone mods appropriate for your effective mechanic level.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –1, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +1.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You gain the repair drone mechanic trick, treating your mechanic level as your character level -1

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): Though now calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +2.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +4.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +3.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +3.

Drone Trick (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You gain one mechanic trick, selected from the mechanic tricks of 8th level or less that grant an ability to your drone (such as drone meld or overclocking).

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype 18th): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +2.

Patreon

Posts like this are possible thanks to my patrons’ support. If you enjoy any of the content I create, please consider joining my patreon!

Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Envoy)

Character concepts don’t always fit neatly into just one character class. Sometimes you want to play a diplomat who is also trained as a spy, or a brilliant engineer who has studied just enough magic to consider it one more tool in her toolbox, or a soldier with psychic powers. Starfinder offers three broad tools for adjusting a character to fit such concepts—themes (to represent background training), archetypes (to represent a different path than a typical member of a class), and multiclassing (to represent training in more than one role). Generally exactly the right balance of those options can make nearly any character concept work.

But it can take a lot of effort.

Maybe, if they were all blended into one definitive all-encompassing option, a broad range of new character concepts could be made easier and faster to write up. A way to indicate that a character has been working to add a second career to their primary training for most of their life, and plans to continue to blend the things represented by multiclassing, theme, and archetype. Something that takes some of the advantages of multiclassing, and places them in the slots of additional abilities normally granted by themes and archetypes. In short, a Multiclass ThemeType.

MultiClass ThemeTypes

A Multiclass ThemeType gives you some abilities of a second character class, but counts as both your theme (preventing you from gaining any other theme, and requiring you to select the ThemeType at 1st level) and as an archetype for the first class you take levels in (requiring you to give up some abilities of your primary class, as normal for an archetype).

Multiclass ThemeType abilities marked with (Theme) occur when you reach the listed character level, regardless of what classes you have taken levels in. Those marked (Archetype) are gained only when you reach the listed level in the first character class you take levels in. However, it is also recommended that characters with a Multiclass ThemeType not be allowed to also use normal multiclassing rules (in which case the character’s character level and class level will always match).

A character cannot take class levels in the class that matches their Multiclass ThemeType.

While ThemeTypes can be used in any Starfinder campaign, they are particularly appropriate for the mash-up world of the Really Wild West setting hack.

As an example, here is the Envoy ThemeType, which allows any character to gain some of the abilities and roles of an envoy.

Envoy ThemeType

You have carefully mastered some aspects of leadership, negotiation, tactics, and making friends and influencing people. While you are generally measured against your abilities from your primary character class, you are seen as a leader within the ranks of those with your other skill sets.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain either Bluff or Diplomacy as a class skill. If you have both of these as class skills from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to one of the two skills. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

If you select Bluff, you may use your Bluff skill bonus as your Diplomacy skill bonus, and are considered trained in Diplomacy. If you select Diplomacy, you may use your Diplomacy skill bonus as your Bluff skill bonus, and are considered trained in Bluff.

Expertise (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the envoy’s expertise ability for one of the following skills of your choice: Bluff, Computers, Culture, Diplomacy, Disguise, Engineering, Intimidate, Medicine, or Sense Motive. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. Your expertise die is a d4, rather than a d6.

If you have an insight bonus of +4 or better to all applicable skills, you may choose to instead treat your expertise die as a +1 circumstance bonus.

Basic Improvisation (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): You gain one envoy improvisation, selected from the list of 1st level envoy improvisations. You treat your character level as your envoy level for all envoy improvisations gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Expanded Expertise (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You select a second skill from the list of skills in the expertise ThemeType feature to which you apply your expertise die.

Intermediate Improvisation (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): You gain one additional envoy improvisation selected from the list of 1st-level envoy improvisations.

Expertise Talent (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain one expertise talent, selected from the list of envoy expertise talents.

Improved Improvisation (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): You gain one envoy improvisation, selected from the list of 1st level or 4th level envoy improvisations.

Greater Expertise (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): Your expertise die increases to 1d4+1.

Greater Improvisation (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You gain one envoy improvisation, selected from the list of 1st level, 4th level, or 6th level envoy improvisations.

Full Expertise (Ex, Archetype 18th): Your expertise die increases to 1d6+1. You select a third skill from the list of skills in the expertise ThemeType feature to which you apply your expertise die.

Patreon

Posts like this are possible thanks to my patrons’ support. If you enjoy any of the content I create, please consider joining my patreon!

Really Wild West Supernatural Wilderness Feats (for Starfinder)

While we already added some mundane wilderness feats to our Really Wild West setting, a big part of RWW is that magic (primarily in the form of theosophy) is real, and supernatural powers exist. So in addition to feats for those who are simply skilled at wilderness training, we need some feats that represent a not-so-mundane connection to the wilderness. The core of these feats is the Wildling feat, with the other feats building off of that.

Animal Soul
Your close bond with the animal world allows you to ignore harmful magic that cannot affect your wild side.
Prerequisite: Wildling, Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: You can choose not to allow spells and effects to affect you if they would not be capable of affecting both your original creature type and the animal creature type.

Aspect of the Beast
You have a strong supernatural connection to the animal world.
Prerequisite: Wildling, Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: Your bestial nature manifests itself in one of the following ways. You choose the manifestation when you choose the feat, and then you cannot change it.
Night Senses (Ex): If your base race has normal vision, you gain low-light vision. If your base race has low-light vision, you gain darkvision out to a range of 30 feet. If your base race has darkvision, the range of your darkvision increases by 30 feet.
Claws of the Beast (Ex): You grow a pair of claws. Your unarmed attacks are not considered archaic and can deal piercing or slashing damage, and gain the bleed critical hit effect. The bleed is 1d4, and increases to 1d6 at character level 4, to 1d8 at character level 9, and to 2d6 at character level 14.
Predator’s Leap (Ex): You gain a +5 bonus to Acrobatics checks made to leap or fall.
Wild Instinct (Ex): You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks and a +2 bonus on Survival skill checks.

Greater Wildling
Your natural empathy stretches across the world of nature.
Prerequisite: Wildling, Survival 3 ranks.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on wild empathy checks, and you may use wild empathy to duplicate an Intimidate check rather than a Diplomacy check. In addition, choose one of the following kinds of creatures: elementals, fey, lycanthropes, plants, or vermin. You may influence creatures of that type with wild empathy, if their Intelligence score is –4 or –5, or they do not possess an Intelligence score. Once you choose the type of creature, it cannot be changed.

Wildling
You were touched by nature at an early age and share a kinship with wild creatures. Your body might bear animalistic features, such as bestial ears or a tail, or your presence may be subtly unlike that of others.
Prerequisite: Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: You can improve the attitude of an animal with wild empathy. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. You rolls 1d20 and adds your character level and Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly.
To use wild empathy, you and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that you must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time. You can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence modifier of –4 or –5, but you take a –4 penalty on the check. If you have the wild empathy class feature, you gain a +3 bonus to your wild empathy checks.

Patreon

I have a Patreon, which supports my writing material like this. When writing this article I found myself going two different directions. Once route lead to the feats presented here, which focus primarily on the Wildling feat as the base. The other was built off a Fylgja feat, which drew inspiration from the nodric concept of an animal spirit that is linked to you in some way, and may even be part of your own soul. While that line didn’t pan out as well in general I still like the core Fylgja feat, which I posted as a Patreon-exclusive for my backers.

“Far Alamo”: A Really Wild West-esque Video

This video is exactly the sort of thing I’d want to see in a Really Wild West campaign! My complements to the creator! (And to the people who created the thigns that inspired the video!)

And the amazing “Dinosaurs of the Wild West” are ALSO perfect for this setting hack!