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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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

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

Basic Combat Training (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): You gain the combat tracking ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature, but you treat your base attack bonus from this class as being 1 higher (to a maximum of 1 less than your class level), rather than treating it as your class level.

If your base attack bonus from this class is so high that this gives you no benefit, 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.

Intermediate Combat Training (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).

If your base attack bonus from this class is so high that this gives you no benefit, instead when using combat training you add your Intelligence bonus (minimum +2) to damage done with weapon.

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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.

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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.

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Laser Dress (for Starfinder)

The always-amazing Crystal Frasier called over the cubical wall “Owen! I want a laser dress for Starfinder!” just as I was going on break.

I mean, who am I to refuse to create a laser dress?

Laser Dress (for Starfinder Roleplaying Game)

A laser dress is a truly outrageous, glittering high-fasion dress that is always considered to be in style regardless of the occasion. It is spectacularly bright, glittery, and fabulous.

A laser dress comes with a battery, but can use up to ultra-capaicty batteries if they are bought separately, and consumes 1 charge per 10 minutes of use.

A laser dress grants you a bonus to Profession (dancer) checks equal to the square root of its item level (+1 at 1st, +2 at 4th, +3 at 9th, +4 at 16th).

A laser dress allows you to make a Profession (dancer) in palce of Acrobatics to for the tumble task. It also allows you to use Profession (dancer) in place of Diplomacy checks for the Change Attitude task, though doing so requires the target be present for at least 30 minutes of your dancing.

A laser dress can also be used to make ranged attacks in a radius, with a range equal to it’s item level x5 feet. This is a full round action, but you can move up to your speed as part of this action if you succeed at a DC 15 Profession (dancer) check. You make a single ranged attack roll against all foes in range, doing 1d6 fire damage, plus double the dress’s item level (critical effect: target makes Reflex save or is blinded for 1d4 rounds). For this purpose, the laser dress is treaded as a small arm in the laser category, and each attack has a usage of 1.

A laser dress has negligible bulk, and costs 50 credits, +its item level squared x100 credits, + and additional 10,000 credits per item level above 10th.

Starfinder Monster Design and Really Wild West Bestiary—Rattle-Cat

We already looked at some general guidelines for building monsters for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game with the Grizzly Boar, an entry for the eventual bestiary for the Really Wild West setting hack which uses the combatant array for monster creation. Now, we’re going to look at building a monster using the expert array.

The Rattle-Cat

RWW-Rattlecat-color-01

A Rattle-Cat is a predator and scavenger unique to North America, though it’s range on the continent is much broader than the snake it shares some characteristics with (likely due to it’s fur coat and warm-blooded nature). Rattle-Cats are ambush predators, depending on speed, stealth, and a mastery of terrain to get near their prey, before dashing out to bite and poison potential prey or threats. They also use their menacing rattle to intimidate any creature that poses a potential threat, a warning much of North American wildlife knows well enough to heed, and to drive away competition from potential scavenged kills, such as dead herd animals and carrion.

Rattle-Cats often travel alone as wandering creatures, but also sometimes form territorial packs (known as a “dirge of rattle-cats”) of up to 12-16 members, ruled over by the eldest female in the pack. They lay eggs which hatch big-pawed cubs with stubby tails, who can already move about and inject venom within an hour of hatching. A rattle-cat can be trained with some success if raised from hatching, making the eggs valuable in certain markets.

Building and Defining an Expert

The actual rules for building and defining a monster using the expert array are the same as those for any other creature, but the nature of the expert array means the emphasis needs to be different. An expert has a lower attack roll and does less damage per attack than a combatant, and has a slightly lower KAC and about 10% fewer hit points. In exchange, it gets a higher ability DC, base spell DC, and more master skills.

That means when deciding if a creature should use the combatant or expert array, the GM needs to ask “is the core conceit of this creature one that leans heavily on skills or abilities with save DCs?” (You use the spellcaster array if you creature is primarily a spellcaster—that’s pretty straightforward. Anything that is a straightforward fighting monster should be a combatant. But if some creature’s concept is built on special effects or opposed skill checks, it works better as an expert. It’s not able to deal or soak quite as much damage in a stand-up fight, but it is more likely to have the skills needed to be a noncombat threat to PCs, and it’s abilities are harder to resist.

So when building our template graft, we should have a fairly heavy focus on things that work well with complementary skills, and/or that have a save DC of some kind. Once we know the core abilities for the creature, it’s still possible to easily create a graft we can apply to the right array and type and/or subtype grafts to produce a version of the monster at any CR. Using the same format as we did for the Grizzly Boar template graft, here’s the graft for the Rattle-Cat.

Rattle-Cat TEMPLATE GRAFT
Required Array: Expert
Required Type: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Small (CR 1/3-CR 1/2), Medium (CR 2-CR 11), or Large (CR 12+)
Speed: 30 feet (Small), 50 feet (Large) or 60 feet (Huge)
Ability Score Modifiers: Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom
Special Abilities: 1-Poison bite (see Rattler Poison). 2-Rattle (see Rattle special ability). 3-Evasion. 4-Cloaking field (as the operative exploit). Bonus- Spring Attack (as the feat).
Skills: Master– Acrobatics, Intimidate, Stealth; Good-Athletics, Survival
Attacks: Melee (bite, with poison; critical: injection +2), no ranged.

Rattle (Ex): The tip of a rattle-cat’s tail makes a disturbing, rhythmic noise that most creatures other than rattle-cats and rattle-snakes find disconcerting. As part of a move action, a rattle-cat can rattle its tail to make an Intimidate check to demoralize all foes within 60 feet. Once a creature has been demoralized by this function of a Rattle-Cat’s rattle ability, it cannot be affected again for 24 hours. A Rattle-Cat can also make an Intimidate check to demoralize any creature that can hear it as a standard action.

Rattler Poison

Type poison (injury); Save Fortitude (DC set by array and CR)
Track Constitution; Frequency: 1/hour for 12 hours
Special: Multiple bites cannot move target down the Constitution track more than once per hour.
Cure: 2 consecutive saves

So, you can see that one major element of the rattle-cat is its poison, which it applies with every bite. Given how the poison rules in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game this could be extremely deadly very quickly, but the special restriction means that after the first bite you are just taking damage until the 2nd or subsequent hour. If untreated, the 12 hour duration makes you likely to die without treatment… which is exactly what we’re looking for in a poisoned Really Wild West creature, to help drive storylines. The poison is both a combat enhancer, and an after-combat driver of story and plot.

The Rattle ability is built off Intimidate skill rules, which works well with our Expert build. However, the Rattle-Cat is also well positioned to be a mobile ambush threat, with high Acrobatics and Stealth values as well. A combatant would have trouble being a major threat with Acrobatics and Intimidate and Stealth, all of which can call for checks with DCs based on the competence or skill of the foe. With evasion and the cloaking field, higher CR Rattle-Cats are even tougher to flush out, and the bonus Spring Attack feat (given for the same reason we gave the Grizzle-Boar a bonus ability) and high speed allows them to make hit-and-run attacks from cover in the wild.

A Rattle-Cat written up as a combatant would be more dangerous in a stand-up fight, but less able to use the tactics and abilities that make it interesting.

Here we bring the whole thing together for a CR 3 Rattle-Cat.

RATTLEE-CAT          CR 3          [EXPERT]
XP 800
N Medium Animal
Init +2 Senses low-light vision; Perception +8
DEFENSE     HP 35
EAC 14; KAC 15
Fort +4; Ref +4; Will +6
OFFENSE
Speed 50 ft.
Melee bite +9 (1d4+7 P plus rattler poison)
Offensive Abilities rattle
STATISTICS
Str +4; Dex +2; Con +0; Int -4; Wis +1; Cha +0
Skills Acrobatics +13, Athletics +8, Intimidate +13, Stealth +13, Survival +8
Languages none

Rattle (Ex): The tip of a rattle-cat’s tail makes a disturbing, rhythmic noise that most creatures other than rattle-cats and rattle-snakes find disconcerting. As part of a move action, a rattle-cat can rattle its tail to make an Intimidate check to demoralize all foes within 60 feet. Once a creature has been demoralized by this function of a Rattle-Cat’s rattle ability, it cannot be affected again for 24 hours. A Rattle-Cat can also make an Intimidate check to demoralize any creature that can hear it as a standard action.

Rattler Poison
Type poison (injury); Save Fortitude (DC 14)
Track Constitution; Frequency: 1/hour for 12 hours
Special: Multiple bites cannot move target down the Constitution track more than once per hour.
Cure: 2 consecutive saves

So that brings us through two of the three arrays, while helping to build a set of unique threats for the Really Wild West (though these monsters can be used in any Starfinder Roleplaying Game campaign). We still need to discuss the Spellcaster array, and maybe take a look at class grafts, in upcoming articles!

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game Monster Design Notes–Really Wild West Bestiary: Grizzly Boar

One of the great things about the Starfinder Roleplaying Game is that designing new monsters and NPCs is fast an easy. Most of the math is taken care of for you, allowing GMs to focus on cool ideas to make threats interesting, instead of having to bend over backwards making sure their core game stats are appropriate for threats of a given level.

That also gives people creating new settings for the game, like my Really Wild West setting hack, opportunities to present creatures in a new way. Rather than just offer a monster, it’s possible to write template grafts in such a way that a GM can adapt a few simple monster rules to create a version of a monster for any CR. A GM need not try to shoehorn the perfect creature concept into an encounter of an inappropriate level. Instead the monster concept can be presented in such a way that the GM can quickly and easily use it at any CR.

I’m going to provide some examples on how to do that, while at the same time talking a bit abut what makes good monsters, walking GMs through the monster creation process, and presenting some brand-new monsters perfect for the Really Wild West (but usable to fill the wildernesses of any Starfinder Roleplaying Game world’s wilderness).

We’ll start with the Grizzly Boar

Grizzly Boar

GRIZZLY BOAR

A Grizzly Boar is a monstrous alpha predator roaming the deep woods and mountains of North America, with a range that is densest along the southeastern coast of the US, the eastern US/Mexico border, and on the whole west coast of North America. With a tusked, porcine head, massive furred body and huge claws, grizzly boars are territorial omnivores that do not fear humans and that will challenge wyverns, wolf packs, and even dragons of their size. When wounded, a grizzly boar will stalk whatever it perceives as a threat for hundreds of miles, until it becomes enraged enough to move in for a kill. Their coloration runs from dark brown in temperate zones to white in the far north, and similar, smaller species of tusk-bears can be found in northern and eastern Europe.

Building and Defining a Monster

Every Starfinder monster is built on one of three arrays presented in Starfinder Alien Archive—combatant, expert, or spellcaster. These arrays give the base values for a creature based on CR, ensuring they are an appropriate typical challenge for an average 4-person group of PCs of that level. In most cases the first decision a GM needs to make is what array to use for a given creature. Since the grizzly boar is described as a dangerous predator, but not listed as having any noteworthy magic abilities, it’s best represented with the combatant array. The template graft for the monster thus lists the combatant array as “required,” so a GM knows that grizzly boars are always build as combat-focused creatures.

After determining the array, a GM needs to know a creature’s type, since this impacts adjustments to the stats of the array and determined what keyword abilities affect the creature. A grizzly boar could be a magical beast, but again given that it seems to basically be a hybrid of boars and big bears, just making it an animal seems more appropriate. Again this is noted in the template graft. That means that when building a grizzly boar, the GM knows it gets all the things listed with the animal creature type graft presented in in Starfinder Alien Archive—low-light vision, Int modifier of -4 or -5, and a +2 increase to Fort and Ref saving throws.

While the combatant array will tell the GM what the grizzly boars top 3 ability score modifiers are for any given CR, those could be put anywhere. Since grizzly boars are strong, tough, and cunning, those modifiers should be put into Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom (in order from highest to lowest). That information also goes into the template graft. A GM can generally leave all the other ability score modifiers at +0, though if at higher CRs a +1 or +2 is desired for one of the remaining ability scores, that’s fine too.

All combatants gain between one and four special abilities, depending on their CR. These are the things that set a monster apart from other creatures of the same CR and type, and are the abilities that PCs are most likely to remember after facing a given monster. To make the grizzly boar template graft work for a grizzly boar of any CR, four special abilities are listed in order of priority, 1-4. If making a CR 1/3, ½, or 1 grizzly boar, it gains only the first listed ability (brute), while a CR 2-CR 11 grizzle boar also gains the second listed ability (gore). Additionally, since all of those options are passive and the grizzly boar is supposed to be among the tougher threats a group might face at its CR, and it has no ranged attacks, a single bonus special ability is listed (ferocity, a universal creature rules from Starfinder Alien Archive), which all grizzle boars receive regardless of CR.

Finally, all monsters built on the combatant array gain one master skill and two good skills, which are listed in the array. Creatures are assumed to gain Perception as a good skill, so it isn’t listed. For consistency sake, a few other notes are given, including the size of a grizzly boar based on it’s CR. These don’t have much impact on its stat block (though it does impact space and reach), but it helps a GM know that lower-CR grizzly boars are young cubs, runts, or from smaller species.

So, the final template graft looks like this:

GRIZZLY BOAR TEMPLATE GRAFT
Required Array: Combatant
Required Type: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Small (CR 1/3-CR 1), Medium (CR 2-CR 4), Large (CR 5-CR 11), or Huge (CR 12+)
Speed: 30 feet (Small and Medium), 40 feet (Large and Huge)
Ability Score Modifiers: Strength, Constitution, Wisdom
Special Abilities: 1-Brute (adjustment special ability, see Starfinder Alien Archive). 2-Gore (as the nuar racial trait). 3-Grab (claw). 4-Extra hit points (adjustment special ability, see Starfinder Alien Archive). Bonus-Ferocity.
Skills: Master– Athletics; Good-Intimidate, Survival
Attacks: Melee (tusk or claw), no ranged.

To make this monster, a GM just takes the combatant array for the desired CR of the end monster, adjusts the numbers as noted for the animal type, and enters those values in a stat block as directed by the template graft. If an ability just changes numbers (such as brute and extra hit points), the GM makes those changes, but doesn’t need to list those abilities in the state block (since, once the changes are made, the GM doesn’t need to be reminded of those abilities during combat, unlike something like gore, which impacts choices the GM makes). Here’s what a CR 6 Grizzly Boar looks like, for example.

GRIZZLY BOAR          CR 6          [COMBATANT]
XP 2,400 each
N Large Animal
Init +0 Senses low-light vision; Perception +13
DEFENSE     HP 90
EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +10; Ref +10; Will +5
Defensive Abilities ferocity
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee tusk or claw +13 (3d4+13 P or S)
Space 10 feet; Reach 10 feet
Offensive Abilities gore
STATISTICS
Str +5; Dex +0; Con +3; Int -4; Wis +2; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +18, Intimidate +13, Survival +13
Languages none
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Ferocity (Ex) When a grizzly boar is brought to 0 Hit Points, it can fight on for 1 more round. It can act normally until the end of its next turn; if it has 0 HP at that point, it dies. If it would lose further Hit Points before this, it ceases to be able to act and dies.
Gore (Ex) A grizzly boar can charge without taking the normal charge penalties to the attack roll or its AC.

If the GM needs a group of 4 smaller, lower-level grizzly boars, it’s the work of 2-3 minutes to write up a new stat block to represent a pack of cubs or a herd of wild tusk-bears. If the GM wants to truly challenge a group of 6th level PCs with a massive grizzly boar threat, writing up a CR 9 version is just as fast and easy. Rather than just a single monster at a single CR, the grizzly boar template graft makes this creature a threat usable at any level.

In the coming weeks, we’ll present at least a couple more examples for creatures using the Expert and Spellcaster arrays, while filling out the Really Wild West Bestiary entries.

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Really Wild West Bestiary: Gulchers

Of course you can use any creatures from the Starfinder Alien Archive as threats in a Really Wild West campaign, but in most cases you’ll want to reflavor them to something more appropriate for it’s 1891 aesthetic and technology level.

It’s useful to dream up brand-new threats as well of course, to get foes hat are unique to the dangerous world of pulp theosophy and super-science that is Really Wild West. Here is a very RWW-themed undead, which may be encountered alone or in mass numbers as dictated by the plot. If you want to make different of higher-CR gulchers, just take any undead and replace one of its offensive powers with bad off, add false life, lower its EAC by 2 and raise its KAC by 1.

GULCHER (CR 1)
XP
400
NE Medium undead
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
DEFENSE
HP
24
EAC 9; KAC 14
Fort +3; Ref +3; Will +3; DR 3/magic; Immunities undead immunities
OFFENSE
Speed
30 ft.
Melee pitchfork (or other tool) +8 (1d6+5 P; critical: bad off) or
Ranged revolver +6 (1d6+1 P)
Special Attacks bad off (DC 11)
STATISTICS
Str
+4; Dex +2; Con —; Int +0; Wis +1; Cha +0
Skills Athletics +10
Other Abilities unliving
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Bad Off (Su)
A gulcher is imbued with the bad times that lead to its sorry state, and can sometimes inflict its bad luck and sad-sack existence on those it hurts. Any attack from a glucher that scores a critical hit causes the target to feel down and out, gaining the sickened condition for 24 hours, or until the target receives a morale bonus (to anything) or is the recipient of a Diplomacy check to improve their attitude.
A gulcher can also attempt to inflict its bad off ability on a creature as a standard action, creaming in contagious misery. Used this way the ability is sense-dependent and the target can negate it with a successful DC 11 Will save.
A DC 11 Mysticism check can identity the nature of a creature being bad off, and reveal the circumstances that negate this effect. Bad off is a curse effect.

False Life (Ex)
A gulcher that doesn’t realize its own true nature is not affected by spells or abilities that only target undead.
ECOLOGY
Environment
any
Organization solitary, pair, posse (3–12), or settlement (13+)

Gulchers are undead that appear to be gaunt, dirty, badly-tended humans, often dressed in patched and worn prairie clothing, though they can also have the appearance of drovers, gunfolk, miners, merchants, gunfolk, and native people can also become gulchers. Most have sallow skin, yellowed, crooked teeth, stringy hair, and sullen or bloodshot eyes. A few appear jaundiced.

Gulchers are most often normal people who went through a time of despair, tribulation, hunger, and pestilence, and died. But they didn’t notice. Things had been so bad, for so long, that dying would be a relief, and gulchers just don’t expect anything to get better.

As long as a gulcher is unaware it has become an undead, it goes about the dreary and colorless motions of living a life. It eats, if food is available, lies in bed and doesn’t realize it never sleeps, sucks down duststorms and doesn’t realize it should choke. In this state, the gulcher isn’t affected by powers that only effect undead, but it also isn’t immune to fear and emotion effects, and takes the penalties for being shaken at all times (though this is more a dreary lack of verve than true fear).

All this changes if the gulcher is made aware of its state. The easiest way to do this is to deal piercing or slashing damage to it – gulchers have thick, black blood and realize the horrible truth of their state if they see their own tarlike vitae. Evidence of their lifeless existence, lack of food, lack of sleep, and so on, can also be used to convince a gulcher it is no longer living with a DC 15 Diplomacy check. Once it knows that even the peace of the grave is denied it, a gulcher is slowly consumed with a desire to make everyone and everything as pained and hopeless as its own existence.

It’s not unknown for entire towns to become gulchers, often during thunderdusts, droughts, and locust plagues. Sometimes one or two take the gray journey, and their desire to cause misery slowly kill off everyone else in town. Othertimes a real bad situation takes out near everyone most all at once. And sometimes, a drakul, ghul, black spirit, or other bigtime black hat decided to take over a town as a base of operation, and intentionally nurses the despair that causes god-fearin’ folk to become the things other folk fear.

In very rare cases, gulchers perform a useful service, such as toiling at a mostly-played out mine that would be pointless for living creatures to port the food and water needed to operate, operating rickety barges on distant rivers with little traffic, or slowly clearing stones from areas that might, in a few decades, be worthwhile farmlands. Of course, these gulchers are also likely to be angered by the sight of anyone doing better than they, and may drown passengers, or dump scorpions into their sleeping blankets.