Starfinder Playtest Comes to a Close

Well, that’s it! Today’s the day! The Starfinder Character Operations Manual Playtest officially comes to a close. It’s time to put down the dice and wave goodbye to the biohacker, the vanguard, and the witchwarper.

I don’t know about you, but my family had a blast testing out these classes. My husband created a brakim vanguard that he really enjoyed, I fell in love with the biohacker class, and both of my kids adored the witchwarper! Sure, the classes had some flaws. Vanguard, for example, had no abilities it could use with its ‘entropy points’ at first level, and I personally found the witchwarper’s ‘infinite worlds’ ability underpowered. But all of those things we discovered, complained about, praised, and gave feedback for will now be used by the folks over at Paizo to shake up these classes, and make some improvements. I can’t wait to see what they become!

The Starfinder Character Operations Manual will release in late 2019 and will contain not only these three new classes, but new character options of all kinds! That’s right! Abilities, feats, spells, and everything in between. It’s going to be awesome!

Got any stories to share about your experience with the Starfinder Playtest? I’d love to hear it!

Jessica

Alternate Realities and a Vision of the Past!

Well, last night’s Starfinder Wednesday pre-recorded episode was an absolute delight! But, before we get into that, lets take a peek at what happened the week before. (Admittedly, the holidays have left me a little behind!).

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 second 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 second?

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Want to play Starfinder? All you need to get started is the Starfinder Core Rulebook!

The witchwarper!

Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Amanda Hamon Kunz and Owen K.C. Stephens. Amanda wrote the first draft of the witchwarper and, although it was a team effort, this class has her personal touch all over it!

So what is the witchwarper? For starters, it’s based around the ‘Infinite Worlds’ theory, which posits that there are an unlimited number of realities where different decisions made by its intelligent life-forms has led to alternate realities slightly different than our own. The witchwarper can see into these alternate realities and temporarily bring aspects of them into our own reality. By drawing on these other worlds they can change circumstances to their benefit, affecting themselves, their allies, their enemies, and their surroundings. Mechanically, this means that they can alter the battlefield, provide buffs and debuffs, and casts spells. As they grow in power, they gain new ways to use their powers on the world around them. They have the same number of spells per day and spells known as mystics and technomancers, and their spell list will be comparable in length when the final version is released.

Also on the topic of magic, it was revealed that there are going to be plenty of new spells released in the upcoming Character Operations Manual. Some spells will be available for all casting classes, others will be available for only two of the three, and a fair amount will be class specific. I can’t wait to see what the folks at Paizo have up their sleeves!

Finally, Amanda and Owen announced that the Starfinder Beginner Box is now available for Preorder. It’s scheduled to be released in April 2019.

Which brings us to today!

The most recent episode of Starfinder Wednesday wasn’t about the future. It was about the past. Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Owen K.C. Stephens and Robert G. McCreary onto the show to discuss the history of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game! They started with a talk about it’s origins. Many of us will think back to Pathfinder’s sci-fantasy products as the basis for Starfinder. Places like Numeria (which is fully detailed in Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars), and adventures like the Iron Gods Adventure Path, and the Second Darkness Adventure Path. Golarion’s original solar system was described in Pathfinder Adventure Path 14: Children of the Void (Second Darkness book 2 of 6), and then further expanded into Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Worlds.

But, when asked about the origins of Starfinder, both Owen and Robert agreed that it went back way, way further. To the ages of Pulp Fiction, and to the classic Dungeons and Dragons adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. They emphasized that combining science fiction and fantasy is not new. People have been doing it long before them. And, of course, there’s plenty of other influences from science fiction we could all name.

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For more information on the Starfinder campaign setting, check out Starfinder: Pact Worlds!

Although there was lots of other interesting topics discussed, I particularly enjoyed hearing about the early days of planning, when they were trying to decide if making a Science Fantasy game even made sense, or if it could be approximated within Pathfinder itself. Was Starfinder a separate entity influenced by Pathfinder? Or was is Pathfinder taken into space? What would make those concepts different? And if they did create Starfinder as its own entity, would it be in a whole new universe? Or would Golarion’s Solar System still fit? How could they even make that work?

What would it look and feel like?

I also really enjoyed getting to hear about the balance they decided to aim for, and how they went about it. What would they carry forward from Pathfinder and what would they create new? What races and monsters, and places would stay the same? What was the right balance between updated and entirely new content? And how could they make old races and places fit in with their new universe?

How did Starfinder become what we know it as today?

There was also some great conversation about the core concepts of Starfinder and how they came to be. Things like cosmology, the Pact Worlds, the Drift, The Gap, and Absalom Station.

Really great stuff! If you haven’t given it a watch yet, I highly suggest you do! Also, you’ll get to see Owen accidentally (or perhaps purposely) mention Alien Archive 3, which is in the works! Robert ended on a more detailed but equally tantalizing  note, mentioning that they’re hoping to create more content that has to do the Near Space, the Vast, and the places you might find in it. Awesome!

Want to learn more about the witchwarper? Download your free copy of the Character Operations Manual Playtest PDF on Paizo’s website right now! You can also tune into Paizo’s twitch channel on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST for ‘Starfinder Wednesday.’ Next week’s show is going to focus on the Vanguard! It’s sure to be a great show!

Until next time,

Jessica

 

Starfinder Wednesday Dissects the Biohacker!

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?

The biohacker!

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!

WITH SCIENCE!!!

Yeah!

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.

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Want to give Starfinder a whirl? Pick up the Starfinder Core Rulebook!

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.

Exciting!

For more information on the Character Operations Manual Playest and to download the new classes check out StarfinderPlaytest.com.

Happy gaming!

Jessica

 

Starfinder Wednesday: Playtest Talk

This past Wednesday brought us another great episode of Starfinder Wednesday! For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, you really should give it a watch. In it the loveable host Dan Tharp and special guests Owen K.C. Stephens and Robert G. McCreary discussed the newest Starfinder Playtest Classes, and answered questions from the fans. No idea what I’m talking about? All the more reason to watch it! Haha. You can also check out my previous blog post on the Starfinder Playtest Classes for the inside scoop on Biohackers, Witchwarpers, and Vanguards! For full details be sure to head over to StarfinderPlaytest.com where you can download the new classes and fill out surveys on how you feel about them.

Want even more details? Fear not! Over the next month Starfinder Wednesday will dedicate an episode to each of the three new classes with their lead developers as special guests. Be sure to tune in to Paizo’s Twitch Stream to check it out!

December 12th: Jason Keeley and Owen K.C. Stephens discuss the Biohacker.
December 19th: Amanda Hamon Kunz and Owen K.C. Stephens discuss the Witchwarper.
December 26th: They’ll be airing a pre-recorded show about the beginnings of Starfinder.  Colour me intrigued! Because this is pre-recorded there won’t be a Q&A session afterwards.
January 2nd: Joe Pasini and Owen K.C. Stephens discuss the Vanguard.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait! I think the new Starfinder Classes are awesome.

But, I’ll have to bid you farewell for now. Tonight’s Pathfinder Friday! In just a few hours Dan Tharp and special guest James Jacobs discuss the Runelords! (Pardon me while I squeal in glee). It’s sure to be a great show.

Tuning in,

Jessica

New Classes Come to Starfinder!

This past Wednesday it was announced on Paizo’s Twitch stream that the Starfinder Roleplaying Game would welcome new classes to its ranks and you, the fans, would get to take them for a test drive. Playtesting new classes is nothing new to Paizo. Even if we don’t count the massive Pathfinder Second Edition Playtest that’s occurring as we speak, they’ve still done plenty in the past. Playtesting new classes gives developers a chance to see how their creations work in the hands of players, how players can exploit them, and what weaknesses they’ve found. It also lets them discover if any abilities don’t work they way they were intended to, or were too under or over powered. All in all, it leads to more balanced, polished classes.

So what exactly is this playtest?

In late 2019 Paizo will release the Starfinder Operations Manual, a hardcover sourcebook packed full of new character options. This book will introduce three new classes, and its these classes that you’ll get to test out.

“This is our first opportunity to add new classes to Starfinder since the game’s release in August 2017, and we need your help to do it! Try out these new classes in Starfinder Society scenarios, Starfinder Adventure Paths, or your own adventures. Then tell us what you and your friends thought of the experience. Paizo needs your feedback to make the classes in the Character Operations Manual the best they can be,” said Starfinder Creative Director Robert G. McCreary.

To get your hands on the playtest head over to StarfinderPlaytest.com, download the free Character Operations Manual Playtest PDF and give it a read. Roll up some new characters and try them out. You can play them in Starfinder Adventure Paths or in home-brew campaigns. Want to play the in Starfinder Society organized play? Go for it!  It’ll work much like pregenerated characters do during the playtest. For full details check out Paizo’s blog post on the topic: here.

StaWhen you’ve had a chance to try them out, head back to StarfinderPlaytest.com and fill out some surveys on your experience. You can also give them your feedback on the the Character Operations Manual Playtest forums, on Paizo’s website. While Paizo wants to focus on actual play feedback, they are interested in hearing all ideas about the classes. Let’s be sure to give them some constructive criticism guys. And some compliments of course! The playtest will run until January 16, 2019, and the feedback surveys will be available throughout the playtest.

So what are these classes?

First up we have the biohacker! This class is the one that my son is the most excited for! The biohacker is a scientist who can run off of either Intelligence (because they’re incredibly smart and analytical)  or Wisdom (because they’re instinctive and impulsive). Biohackers can create injections which they can inject into allies to grant them benefits, or enemies to hinder them. These can be used as a consumable melee weapon (literally injecting someone with a syringe) or loaded into an injection weapon. Injection weapons shot at your allies don’t harm them if you don’t want them to. In addition, each biohacker selects a type of science as their main field of study. There’s a lot to choose from, and each gives you some nifty new types of injections you can create. Biohackers also have a medical scanner, can make injections with their science skills instead of Mysticism, and can learn ‘theorems,’ which are a wide array of special abilities that fit the scientist theme. This class looks like a lot of fun to play! I think it’s going to be the first one I playtest, actually.

Up next? The vanguard! This is definitely an interesting class. They’re a melee based character who can channel entropic forces to make their blows either crush or dissolve the enemy. This can be done through unarmed strikes, or through their melee weapons or shields. Yes! Shields are finally being introduced to Starfinder! Awesome! Similar to solarians and their ‘attunement,’ vanguards function off of a varying number of ‘entropy points’ which begin at 0 each battle and can rise through various methods. These entropy points can also increase your AC. Vanguards also get to choose an ‘aspect’ of entropy to focus on, which gives them different abilities as they level up from other vanguards. As they level up they gain ways to make themselves more durable in combat, or to further enhance their entropic strikes. They also gain a variety of abilities chosen from a large list that are known as ‘disciplines.’

Finally, there’s the witchwarper. This is a charisma-based spellcaster which uses alternate dimensions to power their magic. Cool! Basically, they can alter the world around them by drawing upon other realities. At low levels this power can make a small region into difficult terrain (thematically described depending upon the type of terrain), which at higher levels the area is larger, and the effects more powerful. You can also alter reality to cancel enemy’s critical hits, or allow you to reroll, and learn new skills. Witchwarpers also get to learn ‘paradigm shifts,’ which are unique new ways that you can alter reality. There’s a lot of options here, which is awesome to see. Their spell list includes a really nice array of spells, as well as some brand new ones, which are included in the playtest.

All in all the classes look wonderfully unique and inventive. They have a great array of abilities and options which are sure to make them just as adaptable as the current Starfinder Classes. I’m very intrigued! Definitely looking forward to seeing how they function in play!

Want to learn more? Download your own copy of the Character Operations Manual Playtest PDF on Paizo’s website right now! You can also tune into Paizo’s twitch channel on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST for ‘Starfinder Wednesday.’ This week is sure to be a great show!

Let us know what you think of the new Starfinder classes in the comments below!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some playtesting to do!

Jessica

Pathfinder Playtest: 1.4!

Well, it’s another week and another Pathfinder Playtest Update! There’s new surveys to fill out about Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn: Part Five: Heroes of Undarin, new videos to watch on Paizo’s twitch stream, and a new Pathfinder PlaytestUpdate Document. Be sure to head on over to Paizo’s website and download the free update. This version? 1.4!

So, what’s new this time around?

Heritages.

In previous versions of the Pathfinder Playtest you select an ancestry: dwarf, elf, goblin, gnome, halfling, or human. This choice grants you ability boosts and flaws, hit points, size, speed, languages, and some special abilities. Then you select a single ancestry feat. This feat grants you an additional ability or quality based on your ancestry that you get to select yourself. At higher levels you can select more ancestry feats. Unless of course, you’re a half-elf or a half-orc. To access those races you have to select human, and then use your ancestry feat to become a half-elf or half-orc.

That’s no longer the case.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook

Instead, they’ve introduced an additional kind of feat: heritage feats. Now you select an ancestry, apply it, then select a heritage feat and an ancestry feat. Like ancestry feats, heritage feats are tied to your ancestry. Only gnomes can select a gnome heritage feat, and so on. The half-elf and half-orc ancestry feats are now a part of this heritage feat system. You become a human, select a either half-orc or half-elf as a heritage feat, and select an ancestry feat like every other ancestry gets to. In addition to shuffling these feats around they created unique heritage feats for each ancestry. With the selection of a heritage feat you can now play a desert dwarf, jungle elf, svirfneblin, razor tooth goblin, nomadic halfling, and so on. Each ancestry has around four new heritage feat options. Some of these options will be familiar. For example, the dwarven hardy ability has been moved from an ancestry feat to a heritage feat called Strong-Hearted Dwarf. Others options are brand new.

But, that’s not the only changes. With the addition of heritage feats some of the ancestry abilities have been shuffled around. Other ancestries lost abilities, and some (like halflings) gained some (finally!). They’ve also created three new, higher level ancestry feats for each ancestry.

The rest of the changes are quite minor. They’ve altered the phrasing on a few abilities, improved fighter’s bravery, ranger’s full-grown companion, and the feats battle medic and natural medicine. Crafting can now be used to Recall Knowledge about alchemy instead of arcana. Medicine can now be used to find forensic information on a body or a crime scene. A few spells were slightly adjusted.

And that’s it! It’s a small update, but the heritage system is going to effect every character created to date, so it’s quite important. I’m curious to see how this alters the feel of Pathfinder Playtest characters.

Only time will tell!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest 1.3!

As the Pathfinder Playtest keeps chugging along, this week brings us new surveys and new rules updates! The new surveys are open for the next chapter of Doomsday Dawn: The Mirrored Moon which reunites your players with their primary PCs for this mini adventure path. And the rules updates? There’s a lot of them! Thirteen new pages of rules, plus a separate pdf with a bunch of new content on… wait for it… archetypes! (Pardon me while I squeal with glee!)

So, what exactly is new this update?

To start with the penalty for being untrained in a skill is greater. While it used to be equal to your level minus two it is not equal to your level minus four. Although it might seem lame, I like this change. Now those people who have taken the time to become trained in a skill actually feel better at it than those who didn’t. Before it was kind of a toss up.

The next major change is the DC chart. They’ve shuffled around the DCs a bit, and fine-tuned it. This also effects the DCs across all skills and throughout Doomsday Dawn and the Pathfinder Playtest Scenarios. Yeah. This change is sweeping! I’m curious to see how it plays out.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook.Also available as a free download on Paizo’s website, along with the rules updates.

There’s also… the ten minute rest! What? Yup! First of all, identifying magical objects no longer takes an hour, it only takes ten minutes. FINALLY. This was one of my major pet peeves from the Playtest so I’m thrilled they changed it. Ten is more manageable. Repairing items? Also ten minutes. And finally, they’ve added a new way to use the medicine skill. You can now use it to treat wounds. This takes — you guessed it — ten minutes and can heal up to six people (yourself included) of some of their wounds. This means that there are now ways to heal yourself and your party without relying on magic. In addition, it makes taking a ten minute break after a fight a standard, organic thing to do. You fight, you win. Yay! You bandage your wounds. While the healer does that the mage identifies a magical item and the fighter repairs his shield. It fits. You know? This I can get behind.

There have been some nice changes to classes. Alchemist’s are no longer double-dinged on resonance when using infused items that they give to their companions. Monks finally have simple weapon proficiency so they can actually use a ranged weapon. Thank goodness! Rangers have some new 1st level feat options, and Rogues no longer need to be Dexterity based. Instead they have a trio of techniques they can choose from at level one.  Sorcerers no longer have to take their later bloodline feats, which makes them feel less restrictive.

Death and Dying rules have been adjusted again, with the inclusion of a new condition ‘wounded.’ For the full details you’ll have to give the pdf a read, but I think this method is meant to make it a bit harder to survive than the last updates made it, but still easier than the original Playtest rules. I’m curious to see how it plays out.

There’s other smaller changes and clarifications. Its been confirmed that shields can never take two dents at once. Its also been pointed out that your spell roll is not used for your spell attack rolls. Instead you use your proficiency modifier and Dexterity or Strength as normal. I was really happy that the spell roll was used for your spell attack rolls, but I can see why that’s not the case. Still, I think it’s and unfortunate clarification. I rather liked being a mage who could naturally aim their spells. (Sad! Haha).

That’s all of the big changes, but there’s also a second document. This contains updated rules for all of the multiclassing archetypes, changes some of them (fighter: here’s looking at you!), and adds a bunch of new ones. Oh, yeah! There are now multi class options for every base class. Very exciting!

In other news, Pathfinder Kingmaker the video game has now officially launched. For those of you who don’t know, Pathfinder Kingmaker is a computer RPG with a wide variety of NPC allies for your character to befriend (and the ability to create your own allies!). The game looks AMAZING. It’s currently available to purchase on GOG and Steam.  For more information on the game check out our recent blog post: here. Already playing? Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear all about it!

Until next time,

Jessica

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