June is going to be Starfinder Month here on the Postmortem Studios blog. I’ve been thinking of doing a Machinations of the Space Princess conversion and some rules modifications for the game and that’ll be the core of what I do this month. I’ll take some suggestions too though, so if you have a picture of a cool spaceship, alien or some sci-fi gear you’d like to see statted up for MotSP or Starfinder (or both), comment with a link to the image below!
This month’s content is going to be free for everyone, sometimes – however – I paywall what I write other than a preview. If you want to support me you can do so for as little as $1 a month on Patreon or 1 token a month on Minds.com.
Starfinder has a believability problem when it comes to equipment. The level-limits on items make no goddamn sense and throw you out of your immersion. Why shouldn’t you be able to pick up that Caldarian Fusion Cannon and fire it just like anyone else? Now technically, you can, but this is used as a way to guide treasure, gear and everything else in the game. It’s certainly heavily implied that you shouldn’t go far outside these bounds, because of game balance.
The monetary limit goes a good way to controlling this as the more expensive items are beyond the reach of starting characters. Still, there has to be a better way to do this.
I think there is.
The kinks still need to be worked out, but modifying the bonuses available from certain gear seems to be the best way to about things. The way this would work is that when using gear at a level higher than yourself, you can, but you don’t have the full capability to use it that those of greater experience do – just like a layman might be nonplussed on what they’re supposed to do when handed any other piece of technical gear.
If you’re lower than the level of the equipment, say a weapon, you would get a lesser bonus or lower damage compared to someone of sufficient level. This also gives you a way to acclimatise and grow into weapons and devices – somewhat similar, if you will, to the way you acclimate to your cybernetics in Deus Ex, unlocking new capabilities as you develop.
Let’s take, by way of example, the Corona Laser Rifle from the corebook.
This ‘requires’ a level of 6, does 2d6 F damage, a burn of 1d6 and has a capacity of 40 charges.
If you’re lower than level 6 we could impose a -2 penalty to hit, and depending what level you were we could reduce the damage.
- So, at level 6 you do 2d6 on a hit and 1d6 burn damage.
- At level 5 you do 2d4 on a hit and 1d4 burn damage.
- At level 4 you do 1d8 on a hit and 1d4 burn damage.
- At level 3 you do 1d6 on a hit and 1d4 burn damage.
- At level 2 you do 1d4 on a hit and 1d4 burn damage.
- At level 1 you do 1d4 on a hit and 1d4 burn damage.
You’re better off using a n00b rifle (Azimuth) up until level 5, but you can use the higher level weapon – at a penalty – until you’re a more battle hardened veteran.
Armour, in a similar way, could retain any penalties but lose effectiveness until you learn how to wear it properly, higher level armour being more technical and requiring more involved wearing and set-up.
Taking Freebooter Armour II as an example,
At level 6 it is at full effectiveness providing +6 EAC and +8 KAC with a Max Dex bonus of +5
If we apply similar by-level reductions you end up with…
- At level 5 +5 EAC, +7 KAC, +4 Max Dex
- At level 4 +4 EAC, +5 KAC, +4 Max Dex
- At level 3 +3 EAC, +4 KAC, +3 Max Dex
- At level 2 +2 EAC, +3 KAC, +2 Max Dex
- At level 1 +1 EAC, +1 KAC, +2 Max Dex
And so on.
Of course, this is maths heavy and involves a lot more record keeping, so simply tossing out the Level-limits wholesale, even as a guideline may work better.
When designing encounters it also seems like a good idea to stretch the equipment and gear of the enemy by an amount equal to the APL. So, if you’re in an Epic battle against CR 6 Stormtroopers (NPC troops across D&D compatible products tending to range from level 1-6 based on the old follower mechanics) they might be expected to have level 9, rather than level 6 gear.
EG: Plasma swords instead of duelling swords, Aphelion sidearms and rifles instead of Corona sidearms and rifles, and their heavy weapons trooper might have an advanced X-Gen in place of a tactical one and so on.
Perhaps make it an initiative penalty instead of an attack penalty. Due to unfamiliarity. -1 per level below.