Starfinder Wednesday Tackles the Vanguard!

Wednesday night 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 final of three episodes streaming over the past month that took an in depth look at these three classes: the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard. So which was up last?

The vanguard!

Host Dan Tharp welcomed special guests Owen K.C. Stephens and Joe Pasini to the show. Joe wrote the vanguard. Although this was his first time on the show he seemed comfortable and did a great job! Really enjoyable to watch!

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Want to get in on the game? All you need is the Starfinder Core Rulebook! Want more races or enemies? Pick up Starfinder Alien Archive and Alien Archive 2. Want more gear? Check out Starfinder Armory. Want to learn more about the worlds of Starfinder? Pick up Starfinder Pact Worlds.

To kick things off Dan asked Owen and Joe about the Starfinder Operations Manual Playtest. How has it been going? What sort of feedback have they been getting? What’s good and bad and so on. Owen admitted that it is both productive and frustrating. Obviously when you put creative content out there that you think is great and ask people to find it’s flaws and problem areas, they’re going to do that. And find flaws the playtesters have! Haha. But, in a good way. All these problems that have been identified are areas the team is excited to tackle and improve upon. Most exciting, Owen said that even the negative feedback has still been positive. Turns out fans really like the concepts of the three character classes — the biohacker, the witchwarper, and the vanguard — and are excited to see them in play. All in all, the folks at Paizo appreciate the time everyone has spent on this playtest and look forward to hearing more from us.

As an outsider, it sounds like they have some polishing and tweaking to do, but nothing too major.

For those of you who haven’t provided feedback to Paizo’s messageboards or surveys yet, you’ve still got time. The Starfinder Operations Manual Playtest closes on January 16th. Be sure to get your responses in by then!

From there the conversation shifted onto the vanguard. This was Joe Pasini’s first time developing a class, and I think he did a really great job. But, when asked his thoughts on writing classes he laughed and replied “Can’t say I recommend it.”

Hahaha! Awesome.

The gang clarified that writing classes is among the hardest things you can do in a d20 game, as this is the primary way in which the players are going to interact with your game. They have to be great, so your game can shine. Writing and developing them can be stressful.

The vanguard is mechanically different than anything they’ve done before, so they want it to play differently. It should feel different than a soldier and a solarian (which are the two nearest comparable classes), but it should still be as effective. Vanguard’s don’t do as much damage as those other full BAB combatants, but they target EAC, so they nearly always hit their enemies. But, at its core, its the vanguards resilience that makes them special.

Joe explained that when they were creating ideas for new classes, very early on they decided they wanted a constitution based tank type of character. It was Joe who suggested tying that to the idea of entropy. Further meetings helped focus the class down to its inspirations and final concept. And that’s when Joe got to step in, stare at some blank paper, and try to make it work.

In the end, vanguards became a class that stand strong on the front lines, protect their companions, take hits and become empowered because of them. They don’t mind getting hit, because it lets them use their abilities more effectively. They’re a class that’s just really cool and different. Both tactically and mechanically.

During the interview, Joe explained that one of the things he’s most excited for about the vanguard is how it can create a lot of different kinds of characters. It’s inspiration was very broad — including Captain America, the Juggernaut, the Terminator, David Dunn (from the film Unbreakable), and many more. All these kinds of characters and more can be expressed as vanguards. Later in the episode, spurred on by viewer questions, they even chatted about barathu and contemplative vanguards. (Which are awesome!)

Now, like the other playtest classes, vanguard is not without its flaws. Owen has pointed out that from playtest feedback they’ve discovered that vanguards sometimes have trouble getting into combat and could use a method to speed themselves up. In addition, they have nothing to spend their entropy points on at first level. Owen and Joe mused about creating a way to use entropy points to gain a speed burst (either short or long term) in order to fill both design gaps.

Yes, please!

Much to my surprise and excitement, a creation of my daughter’s was mentioned in the episode, as well as her desire for animal companions. While we were watching she squealed in glee so loud we had to rewatch the mention just to hear what they said about her. And then she asked us to rewatch it some more. Haha. It made her night! Scratch that. It made her month. Probably longer.

“I was reading through [Starfinder Wednesday Fan Club message board] and saw someone posted that their daughter has a rabbit companion that they have strapped to their hoverdrone that follows them around. I thought that was so cool,” said Joe Pasini.

“That’s so awesome,” Dan Tharp agreed.

“And they’re asking about animal companion rules and I think that that would be cool. Some kind of alien companion rules.”

Surprisingly, Owen lavished praise on the idea in a way that insinuated they might already have such a thing in the works — or at least planned for the future. Here’s hoping it comes out with the Player Operations Manual! Haha. But, alas! Owen would offer no further spoilers!

Right near the end Joe brought up my daughter’s drone-wearing rabbit again, saying he’d like to hear more about it. Not just the rabbit, but cool concepts and ideas that are different. He explained that he loves that all the new classes are Starfinder classes. They’re not Pathfinder classes ported over to the new game. They’re different and unique, and they allow players to tell new kinds of stories.

And he’s right.

They’re varied and wonderful, and adaptable. They allow us to make something cool, while forcing us to think a little deeper. Not just the new classes. All of the Starfinder classes.

I really enjoyed last night’s episode. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you do. Joe and Owen were great guests, and they offered wonderful insight into making not only the vanguard, but classes as a whole. Just wonderful stuff! Starfinder Wednesday streams live on Paizo’s twitch channel every Wednesday at 4 p.m. PST. You can also watch already aired episodes on their Twitch stream, or watch partial episodes on their youtube channel. For more information on the Character Operations Manual Playest and to download the new classes check out StarfinderPlaytest.com.


critical hit deck skittermander taylor fischer
Skittermanders are a delightful race that love to help! You can find statistics for playing skittermanders in Starfinder: Alien Archive, play as a crew of skittermanders in the free adventure Skitter Shot, and see plenty of skittermander artwork in the new Starfinder Critical Hit Deck, featuring art by Taylor Fischer.

Before we sign off, my seven year old daughter would like to share some information about her now famous (at least in her opinion) drone-wearing rabbit.

“Hugs is a skittermander with fluffy pink and brown fur and a happy smile. She loves people and animals, even if they are ugly or maybe mean bad guys. And she loves making friends. She’s a mechanic, and an ace pilot, and she has a pet rabbit named Bun-Bun. To keep Bun-Bun safe Hugs made a hoverdrone which Bun-Bun wears like a backpack! It looks like Bun-Bun is a tiny pilot flying the hoverdrone and firing its weapons! Haha! But, Hugs controls the hover drone with her own AI, like all drones, and Bun-Bun is just along for the ride. Luckily, Bun-Bun really likes flying. Right now Hugs is teaching Bun-Bun to be her co-pilot! She has trained her to click a button on command. Hugs shouts:

“Bun-Bun! Do the thing!”

And Bun-Bun clicks a button. But, Bun-Bun can’t tell the buttons apart or anything, so he never clicks the right one! He always messes it up and its always very funny! But, Hugs thinks he is a great co-pilot. He just needs some more practise!”

Thanks for joining us today!

All the best,

Jessica (and family!)

 

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