Last week on Starfinder Wednesday Dan and the gang over at Paizo talked about the Character Operations Manual Playtest, where you can take three new Starfinder classes for a test drive. This week was the first of three episodes streaming over the next month that will take an in depth look at these three classes: the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard. So which is up first?
Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Jason Keeley and Owen K.C. Stephens. Jason wrote the first draft of the biohacker and, although it was a team effort, this class is his baby. In fact, the biohacker is the first class that Jason has ever written. Yes, ever. For anything.
Congrats, Jason! I love it!
Know what else I love? Jason even wore a bloody lab coat to get into character. Honestly? I think Jason’s always a delight to see on the show. He’s a sort of… understated hilarious.
So what did Jason have to say about the biohacker?
“Biohacker is a science based class that works with a lot of our injections (a weapon special property) and can aid his allies and hinder his foes with science. WITH SCIENCE!”
And yes, everyone should say ‘with science’ with great enthusiasm!
Have I mentioned I really like the biohacker?
…Well, I do. And I’m not the only one! When asked why he wanted to make the biohacker, Jason had this to say:
“So when we decided the three classes that we were going to do I was very excited to jump in and get to write the first pass on the biohacker because I used to want to be a scientist. In high school I had some really great science teachers. I actually had a teacher whose last name was — I kid you not — ‘panic,’ spelt a little differently […] and he taught us all sorts of fun science experiments and I was like ‘Yeah, science is cool! I’m going to go to college for science.’ And I went to the University of Delaware for two years […] with a biochemistry major.”
Unfortunately for Jason, and very fortunately for Paizo and all of use at home, science didn’t really work out for Mr. Keeley. He shared some hilarious stories about his misadventures working in a science lab, which sound like they could have been showcased in the classic Disney ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice.’ In short, it ended with Jason accidentally flooding the entire science lab on his way home for the night. Luckily for all of us, Jason later realized he liked theatre a lot more, and got an English degree instead.
“And that eventually led me here. And that’s my backstory, everybody.”
Thanks for sharing, Jason!
But, back to business. When asked how he used his experiences to help him create the biohacker, Jason replied:
“So I was excited to take what I remembered from science, and chemistry, and biochemistry, and biology, and try to […] apply that to a fun class.” […] “Thinking about all the aspects of biochemistry […] going into the generalities of genetics, and neurotransmitters, and enzymology and that sort of thing, were words that I definitely wanted to use. Right? And figure out how it would work in the game.”
Owen K.C. Stephens went further, saying:
“I think an important part of where his experience came into this draft is that Jason discovered the very important difference between the fun ‘imagining what science would be like that is exciting and interesting’ and what real science is like.” […] “The biohacker is not designed to be any kind of real world statement about genetics, or biochemistry, […] we don’t want you to have to pick up a thesaurus or have two years of biological chemistry in order to play this class, so its, its very much a fun idea catchphrase driven class.”
So what is a biohacker? What cool goodies do they get and what roles are they meant to fill? Well, as we mentioned in a previous blog post on the Starfinder Playtest classes, the biohacker can do a lot. They have a custom scanner which they can use to identify creatures and heal their allies. They can fire injection weapons at their allies without causing them harm — an ability that lets them fire a healing serum or other beneficial medicinal without hurting their pals. They have some balancing abilities — buffs and debuffs — that let them influence the battle, and a large list of theorems that they can choose to learn which allow them new abilities. Some of these are toolbox-y, others alter how you might use injections or what your injections can do, and others force mutation. High level theorems can even stop peoples hearts and lower an enemy’s cognitive abilities. Basically, they inject people with things to solve problems.
Owen explained that they have three main categories of classes: combatants, spellcasters, and classes that are neither. Instead, these classes have a unique array of abilities that are good in and out of combat. Its these classes — like the biohacker — that are the most difficult to design. Which is also why it needs playtesting!
So if we want to help make the biohacker the best it can be, what kind of information should we be giving in our feedback surveys and on the message boards? For starters, they want to know how the class works mechanically. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand? What works well and what doesn’t? How does it work on its own, in a group, and at high-level play? Did you come across any odd situations or combinations what caused problems. Also, they want to know if the class fits in with the world of Starfinder, and if you liked it. Was it fun? Exciting? Boring? Tell them!
Following the episode was a great Q&A segment where fans can ask questions live on Paizo’s twitch stream through the chat function, or by posting a question online ahead of time here. There were a lot of good topics discussed, including clarifications to mechanics and rules. My favourite question? “Can a biohacker build an injection ship weapon to target living ships?” Answer? No! Not right now. But clearly Owen and Jason loved the idea, so it’s likely we’ll see something like that one day down the road. Owen said he was going to add it to his list of ‘things that are too cool to forget.’
All in all, it was an awesome episode. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you do! Starfinder Wednesday airs on Paizo’s Twitch stream on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. PST. You can also watch already aired episodes on their Twitch stream, or watch partial episodes on their youtube channel. Curious what’s on the agenda for upcoming shows? Next Wednesday Amanda Hamon Kunz and Owen K.C. Stephens discuss the Witchwarper. On Boxing Day Paizo will be airing a pre-recorded show about the beginnings of Starfinder. And on January 2nd Joe Pasini and Owen K.C. Stephens discuss the Vanguard.
For more information on the Character Operations Manual Playest and to download the new classes check out StarfinderPlaytest.com.