Tag: shadowrun

An Introduction to Starfinder Character Creation

An Introduction to Starfinder Character Creation

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 | By | Add a Comment

 

An Introduction to Starfinder Character Creation

Well, Pathfinder is here and what an interesting game it is!  Character creation is of course is the fundamental part of any role playing campaign, so I would like to start my long (but hopefully inspiring) critique of Starfinder with that.  So let’s just dive right in to this long awaited hearty meal with the important things first:

Characters in Starfinder have many familiar elements from Pathfinder, but there are differences. For example, characters don’t just have a race and a class, they have race/class/theme. They do, however, have the six attributes we all know and love – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma (a point buy is the default method of picking these).

Typical of other science fiction based role playing games outside of the fantasy genre, Starfinder does not use hit points in the same way as D&D/Pathfinder. Rather, a character has both hit points and stamina points. Stamina points are lost first, and are relatively easily recoverable (characters have Resolve points to spend every day, and spending a point refreshes all Stamina. Hit points lost represents actual damage to the character, and is harder to heal. Characters gain both hit points and stamina points every level based on character class (characters also get a one-time HP boost from their race).

Leveling up will be familiar to Pathfinder fans. It is still literally leveling up, from 1st to 20th. Following in the refinements of Pathfinder, Starfinder makes sure that characters are getting something new at every level from every class. In addition to class-specific benefits, characters gets a feat every other level, an ability score increase every fifth level, and a theme benefit every sixth level. Multiclassing exists, but is disfavored.

There are seven standard races available, plus several “legacy” races. The legacy races – dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings – are perfectly playable, are simply not given the same prominence in Starfinder. Some, like the elves, have a relatively limited presence in the setting, voluntarily isolating themselves. But others, like the halflings, are almost as widespread as humanity. Each race gets one page with mechanics and two portraits, and one page of setting information. The seven standard races are:

  • Human: you know what these guys are, right? As with Pathfinder, they get to pick their attribute bonus, and start with an extra feat and get more skill points. These are the same humans who originated on Golarion.
  • Android: As androids are often wont to do, these ones were created as servitors but more recently have been recognized as sentient beings with rights (well, at least they have in the Pact Worlds). They are constructs and have some environmental immunities, have good vision, sometimes have a tough time communicating when it comes to emotions, and can upgrade their bodies as if it was armor. They are nimble and smart, but not very charismatic.
  • Lashunta: Originating in the Golarion system, the lashuntas are near-human in appearance, but with long antenna (they are not insectile). They are mildly telepathic, have a handful of cantrips they can use as spell-like abilities, and get skill bonuses. Lashunta are a dimorphic species, and characters usually get to choose which one they will become (not just that the player gets to choose for their character, but the character themselves gets to choose). All lashunta are charismatic, while one subspecies is strong but somewhat oblivious, while the other is smart but fragile.
  • Kasatha: The kasatha originate from outside the Golarion system. They came to the system in a generational worldship intending to colonize, but found the system too densely populated to just take over a planet. So they stuck around and their ship is now a Pact World. Kasatha kind of look like Eldar with four arms. They tend towards being very traditionalist and consider melee weapons preferable to ranged ones. Mechanically, they get bonuses to Strength and Wisdom, but a penalty to Intelligence. They get bonuses to Culture, Acrobatics, and Athletics. Oh, and there’s the four arms thing, which literally lets them carry more.
  • Ysoki: These ratfolk are generally high-energy and technologically-focused. They have bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence, but a penalty to Strength and have less HP than most other races. They are small, can carry things in their check pouches, have darkvision, and get bonuses to tinkering, hiding, and surviving.
  • Vesk: The vesk are definitely not a Pact World race. Indeed, these aggressive, martial reptilians were the impetus for the creation of the Pact. But the arrival of the Swarm threatened both the vesk’s star system and the Golarion system, resulting in a hesitant collaboration between the two. Vesk are strong and tough (including extra racial HP), but not as bright. They get extra benefit from armor, have enhanced vision, and natural weapons.
  • Shirren: Unlike the lashunta, the shirren are insectile. Indeed, they are a breakaway portion of the Swarm. Because of their history as part of a forced hive mind, they highly prize individual choice. They are tough and observant, but are considered less charismatic by other races. They have blindsense (vibration), work well as part of a team, have limited telepathy, and get bonuses to Culture and Diplomacy checks.

Next up is the theme, which is layered on top of the class. A character can be a priest (theme) whether or not they are a spellcasting mystic (class). A character can be a mercenary or a bounty hunter (themes) without being a soldier (class), or can be a soldier and a spacefarer (theme). The themes are ace pilot, bounty hunter, icon (as in, a celebrity), mercenary, outlaw, priest, scholar, spacefarer, and xenoseeker. Each theme gives +1 to a specific attribute, a bonus class skill at first level and a boost when using that skill (or some related skills), and unique abilities at levels 6, 12, and 18. For example, the Ace Pilot always has Piloting as a class skill, gets a bonus on Piloting checks, and has an easier time with Culture checks to know about starships and vehicles. A character can also be themeless, which provides generic bonuses.

As one might anticipate, a character’s class is the most mechanically significant mechanical choice at character creation. Class defines attack bonuses, saving throws, hit points and stamina points, skill points and where they are best spent, and weapon and armor proficiencies. The baselines for these are about 6 HP/SP a level, 4 skill points a level, a moderate base attack bonus, two good saving throws, and proficiency in light armor, basic melee weapons, grenades, and small arms. Every class also gives Weapon Specialization (bonus damage) at 3rd level for every weapon it gave proficiency with. Most classes have a class feature that every few levels lets the player choose an ability off of a substantial list, permitting a lot of customization. There are seven classes:

  • Soldier: The soldier will be instantly recognizable to any Pathfinder or D&D fan as the fighter of the system. They have increased HP/SP, the highest base attack bonus, and are proficient with pretty much every kind of weapon and armor – indeed they are the only class that is proficient with heavy armor, heavy weapons, and longarms (rifles). Soldiers receive a bonus combat feat every other level, and get to select gear boosts every four levels (such as a bonus when wearing armor or attack bonuses with certain weapon subcategories). Soldiers choose a primary (and eventually a secondary) fighting style, such as arcane assailant, armor storm, blitz, bombard, guard, hit-and-run, or sharpshoot (a soldier with the right specialization can also use powered armor). This fighting style gives bonuses every four levels. Soldiers also get enhanced ability to make extra attacks.
  • Envoy: The social character class (the “face,” if you will), the envoy is also very good with skills generally, gaining the highest available number of skill points per level and class features that make them even better at select skills. They envoy gains envoy improvisations every couple of levels. These abilities tend to involve social combat effects, such as taunting enemies or bolstering allies.
  • Operative: The operative is the other skill-heavy class, with some aspects traditionally associated with the rogue, like Evasion and a Sneak Attack variant (Trick Attack). Operative exploits are chosen every two levels, and include abilities such as a bonus combat feat, the ability to use skills untrained, or extra mobility. Each operative chooses a specialization, which gives several powers and a bonus exploit. The specializations include daredevil, detective, explorer, ghost, hacker, spy, and thief. Operatives aren’t proficient with grenades, but they are proficient with sniper rifles. They also have the potential to make more attacks than most other classes.
  • Mechanic: The mechanic is a “pet” class, with the pet being an AI installed either in a drone or in an exocortex (a brain implant with an AI) that levels up along with the mechanic (and is very customizable itself). The mechanic is also bonkers at breaking into computers and related systems. The drone AI tends towards combat, while the exocortex makes the mechanic even better at hacking. The mechanic chooses from a variety of mechanic tricks every two levels, such as a bonus ability when repairing starships or a visual data processor for enhanced perception.
  • Mystic: The mystic is, along with the technomancer, one of the two spellcasting classes. Neither spellcasting class is “arcane” or “divine,” but the mystic leans more towards what you might expect from a divine spellcaster (they have the healing spells, for example, while the technomancer has magic missile; their spellcasting is also based on Wisdom). Reading the descriptions, I almost wondered if mystics were Starfinder Jedi, as their powers are all about “connection with some force.” The concepts involved are broader than that, however, as a mystic’s “connection” is their philosophical power source. If the mystic draws their power from a deity, then this connection is probably related to that god, but the connection need not be divine in nature. Some of the connections are akashic, empath, healer, mindbreaker, overlord, and xenodruid (note that some of those connections are not exactly pleasant). Connections grant a few more spells known, and then a specific power every three levels. The mystic has a certain number of spells cast per day and spells known; there is no memorization of spells. The mystic also gains telepathic powers. The mystic has a few more skill points than is standard, but is not proficient with grenades and has subpar saving throws.
  • Technomancer: The other side of the spellcasting duo, technomancers are Intelligence-based, with fewer HP/SP and skills than the mystic. Technomancers have a spell cache for extra flexibility, and get a magic hack every few levels that can be used to modify spells or use spell slots for additional effects. Magical hacks include disrupting technological attacks, using a battery to fuel spellcasting, or changing any basic land type into another.
  • Solarian: The solarian is the most distinctive Starfinder class. The solarian’s concept is tied to the stars in their various stages of life, and the power of gravity, light, and heat. During combat, the solarian will either be in graviton mode or photon mode (and will fluctuate between the two), gaining access to particular powers depending on what mode they are in (the solarian will get to pick particular powers as they level up). In addition to these stellar modes, the solarian is also accompanied by a solar mote, a physical manifestation of their solar power. The solarian must choose whether this mote can become a solar weapon or can become solar armor. Of course, the solar equipment improves as the solarian levels. The solarian, like the operative and the soldier, has improved access to extra attacks. Solarians also join soldiers in having more HP/SP than other classes and in getting a better base attack bonus, and trade in their grenade proficiency for advanced melee weapons.

Archetypes exist in Starfinder like they do in Pathfinder, but work somewhat differently. Each base class has a standardized list of what it loses from an archetype when an archetype puts a feature in at that level, allowing archetypes to apply to any class (instead of being class-specific). There are only two archetypes presented, however, making this more something that will be expanded in later books than used directly out of this one. The two archetypes are the phrenic adept (psychics) and the Starfinder Forerunner (from the Starfinder Society).

Starfinder is Coming!

Starfinder is Coming!

Monday, January 9, 2017 | By | Add a Comment

 



Starfinder is Coming!

Hello my readers, today I found out about a new science fiction RPG that will be available on the market around August of this year.  It is called Starfinder and it is created by the same company, Paizo, @ www.paizo.com, that has brought us the renowned Pathfinder fantasy RPG.  In fact, it is basically the same core roleplaying system as Pathfinder such as character creation, core rules and gaming system.  Unfortunately, it has been said that they will not be producing many books or references for the game, which is all fine since the game expands on the Pathfinder core rules, but to me that sounds very familiar with sci-fi role playing games (Gamma World, Shadowrun, GURPS).  Nevertheless, I am always excited about the release of a sci-fi roleplaying game, whether it is an expansion or not.  Pathfinder seems to be the popular choice among roleplayers these days, so I can only imagine a high degree of interest in this game as well as the possibility for more expansions in the years to come (depending on its popularity, of course!)  Check out some of the wonderful artwork for the game!

Setting

It seems to be set a few hundred years past the current time of Pathfinder. Golarion has vanished and a few hundred years is just missing from people’s memories. There are no records of this time and it will be a HUGE mystery in the new game.

The new setting will be based around the solar system Golarion is in. Distant worlds is the foundation of all of this but it is just in the distant future. Absalom Station is floating over were Golarion used to be and will be there heart of the new setting. It is very easy to get back to Absalom station and everyone is vying for control of it.

The setting is around exploring new worlds so there will be a lot of new places to explore. This is for both players and third party groups to go nuts with and apparently they are already getting request from third parties to start making new worlds.

The Multiverse is still the same, all of the same planes exists though it has been a long time so who knows what is different. The Gods will also be different, apparently some of the current Gods aren’t as popular and new Gods have taken their place.

Races and Classes

All races that are core races in Pathfinder will be in Starfinder, but there will be new races in the core book. While some of this is being kept close to the chest, four of them have been confirmed to be, Humans, Ratfolk, Androids and Kasatha. There will be three other races in the core, but they would not announce them at this time.

The seven base classes have been announced and I am pretty excited about them.

  • Soldier: they will be similar to the fighter, being a weapon master and using one type of weapon expertly.
  • Operative: This sounded an awful lot like a rogue to me, being a heavy skill user and being a bit more of specialized fighter.
  • Envoy: This is a charismatic buffer and face of the party, sounding similar to a bard. Princess Leia was given as an example of their role.
  • Mechanic: This one sounded truly bonkers. With the ability to create a robot or an A.I. you could use it as a kind of high tech summoner, or druid. I was really excited about it.
  • Mystic: this sounded like a Jedi to me, and was described as an Oracle type character. Drawing their power from magic but not worshipping anything.
  • Technomancer: Oh boy oh boy, so this sounded like what would happen if a computer programer found magic. It is such an unusual idea and was a true hybrid of magic and technology.
  • Solerian: they really saved the best for last. This class is so different than anything I’ve ever seen. They see the ebb and flow of energy and entropy and use those powers to great effect. Apparently you have to be very careful which abilities you use. If you use an energy ability then your next energy ability will be more powerful but you entropy abilities will be weaker.

The monsters will have a two page spread. Now some of this was Erik Mona being silly but I do think there was a lot of truth to it. The monsters will have two pages so that players can use crazier races in the future, and he wants things like floating cubes to be playable races. It sounds amazing if they can pull it off, but one thing is for sure, there will be lots of crazy races.

How Much Content to expect

They will not be producing as much Starfinder material as Pathfinder. They seem to want people to be able to play both and they don’t want to overwhelm people with the cost of two RPG’s.

A portion of the core book will have campaign setting details. While it will be very easy to use the system for other settings they are really trying to encourage people to use the setting … but based on what I’ve seen that shouldn’t be too hard.

What about Items?

Magic Items will be rarer as technology has slowly taken over. We didn’t get a good answer on how important equipment will be or how they will balance that with alien physiology. It is likely this is the biggest thing they are still working on. Cybernetics and magical enhancements will be very important though.

Last, but certainly not least, space ships will be very important. Space combat rules will exist and people will be required to fill multiple roles. They described it has meeting half way between BattleTech, and SpellJammer. They wanted everyone to be involved but it to not be too crazy detailed. They mentioned Star Wars and Serenity a lot when talking about the style and  feeling of ships. They like the idea of one ship being as much a character as the party.

This is the biggest news about Starfinder yet! I am very excited about it and it seems like everyone at Paizo is has well! It is expected to drop at GenCon 2017.

Shadowrun Online Games

Shadowrun Online Games

Sunday, May 15, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Dice six sided for the role-playing game Shadowrun

Dice six sided for the role-playing game Shadowrun (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shadowrun Online Games

It seems that every big name Hollywood movie series and every big name pen and paper role playing game have merged into a modern day conglomeration of money making productions.  As a person who has been a huge gamer for most of my life, I always view these things as the greatest catastrophes ever.  I believe I share these sentiments with a growing majority of gamers as well as it seems that these always turn out to become absolute flops that we like to believe do not really exist and avoid like the plague.  This tends to be the case with the extremely limited video games that represent the extremely unlimited pen and paper role playing games.

As a player of mainly science fiction role playing games, one of my favorite role playing games happens to be Shadowrun.  The video game release of Shadowrun for the XBox 360 was an absolute, completely horrid failure of a game.  The game, which was a shooter type game and had incredibly bad graphics, effects, and design even for its time, involved characters with relatively no character customization and extremely minimal weapons and spells who ran around extremely small areas and fought each other in order to capture flag like items in a race for time.

So, after playing this utter monstrosity of a game, I came under the illusion that when the recent catalog of Shadowrun online games became available, the new games had to be so much better than the previous games turned out to be as a result of the rising demands that critics are now placing on video game developers.  So, I have played a little bit of Shadowrun Returns, which I have purchased for my Android phone and Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown, which I have for my home computer.

I am still quite disappointed in the new games, as they are turned based games and not something new like a combination of action and turned based games which I was hoping for.  Character customization seems to be good with the ability to gather more accessories throughout the game to design your character however way you want.  The storylines and quests seem to be lacking in depth, and although I have only played a few hours on the games so far, the missions seem rather quick and too easily won.

Maybe with time I will be able to appreciate the games a little bit more, but as far as graphics and the turned based game layout of the game goes…..I stand disappointed.

Gaming, online gaming, and pen and paper gaming

Gaming, online gaming, and pen and paper gaming

Thursday, March 24, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Gaming, online gaming, and pen and paper gaming

Gaming, online gaming, and pen and paper gaming has such a wide audience and not every gamer is into or plays the same games as everyone else.  I am a gamer who enjoys games over many genres and that includes video as well as RPG or role playing games.  Mostly I am a huge fan of sci-fi based RPG’s.  One of my most favorite pen and paper RPG’s by far is Shadowrun.

Shadowrun is a role-playing game set in a fictional alternate universe.  Shadowrun combines cyberpunk and high fantasy to create a near future world where technology has advanced beyond our understanding, powerful mega corporations control everyday life, and magic and classical fantasy races have returned to the world.  The game also has a rich history and novels to go along with the game to keep the player inspired when not actually involved in a “campaign” or role playing group.  There are currently several video games also related to the RPG which are rapidly becoming more and more in depth with all of the elements of the original game and with expansions as well.

The fourth edition of Shadowrun uses a point-based character creation system. Earlier editions and later in the fifth edition, used a priority-based system with point-based character creation as an advanced option. Priorities are divided into race, magic, attributes, skills, and resources.  All things that do not explicitly fall under the first four classifications, including contacts in third and earlier editions of Shadowrun, are given cash-equivalent values to be bought with resources.

Shadowrun characters are created with contacts, friends and acquaintances who serve as key nodes in the character’s social network and who will often help the character out. Through the contacts system, players may uncover information that their characters cannot independently acquire.  Additionally, players can often negotiate for the use of skills that their characters do not themselves have, a radical departure from most role-playing games.

Although the skill system is freeform, certain combinations of skills and equipment work well together.  This combination of specialization in skill and equipment is known as an archetype.   So whether you want to be a street samurai with magic skills, or an adept with fighting skills, you can mix things up however you want with certain restrictions and consequences of course.

Check out the video above for more on learning the world of Shadowrun for your first time.