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Old Sep 6th, 2019, 08:19 AM
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No Blasters! (House Rules Thread)

Game Mechanics
Section 1. Game Mechanics
This post will contain any changes to the Starfinder rules I think are needed. I currently have four such changes. Any future changes will be added to this post and announced.

1) Defensive Fire in Melee Combat
Under the rules, any attack with a ranged weapon while in melee provokes an attack of opportunity (AOO) (CR, p. 248). Under my house rules, a character with a firearm or ranged energy weapon may attack with that weapon in melee without provoking an AOO if they are willing to sacrifice some accuracy by firing defensively. The penalty for attacking with a ranged weapon in melee without provoking an AOO is -2 for small arms, -4 for long arms, and -8 for heavy weapons. Basically, imagine this as hip shooting while maintaining a defensive stance, as opposed to raising the weapon and using the sights in a shooting stance. You must declare that you are firing defensively, or I will assume you didn't want the attack roll penalty and were okay with provoking the AOO.
  • The above rule does not apply to thrown weapons (including grenades) or archaic ranged weapons like bows or crossbows. Any attack with such weapons in melee provokes an AOO.
  • Defensive firing applies to single-shot firing only. Automatic weapon fire (CR, p. 180) requires the shooter to brace their stance and thus always provokes an AOO.
  • Defensive firing can be combined with full attack; the -4 full attack penalty stacks with the defensive fire penalty.
  • Defensive fire can target anything in its line of effect, it doesn't have to target adjacent enemies.
  • If an enemy in a neighboring square provokes an AOO, a character may make the AOO with a ranged weapon but MUST take the defensive firing penalty.

2) Difficulty Class for Starship Combat Actions
The rules as written make many starship actions (especially for the pilot) actually harder to pull off the higher your character gets in level. To the point where a 70-80% chance of success for an optimized level 1 character drops to as low as 30% at level 20. This is because ships advance in tier as the party advances in level and while a character can normally only raise his skill 1 point per level, many of the DC formulae include adding (ship tier x 2)... making DC increase 2 per level.

My fix for this has been to entirely revise most of the DCs for starship combat actions. I have added new factors called Maneuverability Modifier for Pilot actions and Size Modifier for various actions. The Maneuverability-based piloting check modifier (CR p. 319) now only applies to the piloting check for initiative at the beginning of each round. For Engineer actions, I only tweaked the system. It makes sense that more complex ships would be harder to manage for an engineer, but I reduced the modifiers a bit to allow PCs to keep up ahead of the curve. Gunner actions and all but one Science Officer action are based entirely on enemy ship characteristics and thus required no tinkering. Actions should get harder against more advanced ships.

The DCs for this game are contained in this spoiler button:

3) Expansion/Modification of Harrying Fire Rules
Harrying fire will continue to work in the same basic way but with new modifiers to the die roll and new options for the attacker.
The target DC remains 15; however, automatic weapons grant a +5 bonus and unwieldy or thrown missile weapons incur a -5 penalty.
Prior to rolling a harrying fire attack, the attacking character must choose one of the following effects:
  • As in the Core Rulebook, the target suffers a -2 AC penalty on the next attack against them;
  • The target suffers a -2 attack roll or skill check penalty on the first attack or skill check they make after the harrying fire;
  • The target suffers a -10' penalty to their next movement action (unless they are crawling), and they may not run.
All effects terminate at the beginning of the attacker's subsequent turn.

4) Difficulty Class for Aiding Another
Instead of a flat DC 10 for aiding another, the DC for aiding another is 1/2 the DC of the action the other is attempting. The bonus gained from such aid is still +2.

5) Ability Modifier for Grenade To-Hit Rolls
The to-hit roll with a grenade to land the weapon on a grid intersection will be modified by your DEX modifier, not your STR modifier.

6) Hero Points
This game uses the Pathfinder Hero Points system. One Hero Point is granted at level one and after that they are given at the GM's discretion only. ONE Hero Point may be spent per combat round and they do not have to be spent in combat. Hero points may be used to:
  • Act out of turn - You may spend one hero point to act before the bad guys if you have lost initiative. This may allow you to negate an enemy action already made and described in a game post. You do not need to do this to act before another player who has posted ahead of you. Player posts will be adjudicated in the order most advantageous to the players. You may not use a Hero Point to get an action in a surprise round if you are surprised.
  • Bonus on any D20 roll - You can spend a Hero Point take an 8 point bonus by declaring it in your dice roll (literally put in the Dice code so I know you intended it when you rolled), or a +4 bonus after the roll has been made.
  • Extra Action - You may spend a Hero Point to get an extra Move or Standard action in one round. This CAN combine with a Full Round Action, including taking three attacks at -4 each.
  • Heavy Damage - Before you make a damage roll, you can spend a hero point to max out the die rolls for HALF of your damage dice rounded up (always maxes out a single die damage roll), then roll the remaining dice. So if your weapon does 5d8, the damage will be 24 + 2d8 and you roll only 2d8. This has no effect on other damage modifiers.
  • Inspiration - If you feel stuck at one point in the adventure, you can spend a hero point and petition the GM for a hint about what to do next. If the GM feels that there is no information to be gained, the hero point is not spent. Inspiration will usually take the form of a hint rather than direct information.
  • Recall - You can spend a hero point to recall a spell you have already cast or to gain another use of a special ability that is otherwise limited. This should only be used on spells and abilities possessed by your character that recharge on a daily basis.
  • Reroll - You may spend a hero point to reroll any one d20 roll you just made. You must take the results of the second roll, even if it is worse.
  • Special - You can petition the GM to allow a hero point to be used to attempt nearly anything that would normally be almost impossible. Such uses are not guaranteed and will be considered carefully by the GM. Possibilities include casting a single spell that is one level higher than you could normally cast (or a 1st-level spell if you are not a spellcaster), making an attack that blinds a foe or bypasses its damage reduction entirely, or attempting to use Diplomacy to convince a raging dragon to give up its attack. Regardless of the desired action, the attempt should be accompanied by a difficult check or penalty on the attack roll. No additional hero points may be spent on such an attempt, either by the character or her allies.
  • Cheat Death - A character can spend 2 hero points to cheat death. How this plays out is up to the GM, but generally the character is left alive, with negative hit points but stable. For example, a character is about to be slain by a critical hit from an arrow. If the character spends 2 hero points, the GM decides that the arrow pierced the character’s holy symbol, reducing the damage enough to prevent him from being killed, and that he made his stabilization roll at the end of his turn. Cheating death is the only way for a character to spend more than 1 hero point in a turn. The character may only spend Hero Points to cheat death themselves, not for another PC.

Last edited by ruffdove; May 20th, 2022 at 09:17 AM.
Old Sep 6th, 2019, 11:13 PM
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Rules of the TableSection 2. Rules of the Table

1) Dice Rolling
I want to let players roll their own dice to the extent possible and will usually prompt for rolls I need; however, I will normally roll offline for players in three situations:
  • When the player by rule shouldn't know how well they fared, like when they use the Computers skill to forge a document.
  • When the player shouldn't know that a skill has been engaged unless it succeeds (Perception vs Stealth, or Sense Motive vs Bluff).
  • On rare occasions to speed up play, I may roll for your characters to know something or spot something.

When rolling dice, please either conceal the roll in a "tt" thread or spoiler button, or roll in the dice thread and link to that post in your game thread post.

2) Initiative
At the start of combat I'll roll enemy initiative and give the party the target number to beat. If ANY player beats the enemy roll, the entire party may act first. Surprise rounds will still occur, and surprised PCs won't act in a surprise round, even if the unsurprised PCs win initiative.

3) Character Advancement
Character advancement will be through GM fiat, rather than experience point accumulation. The AP is far too long to play every encounter via PbP, so the focus will be on story, and the characters will advance in level when they need to be at the next level to meet the next set of challenges.

4) Posting Format
Feel free to post in any style that suits you--if there's a problem with your post formatting, I'll let you know.
Pictures that are in good taste (PG-13 and below) are fine. Again, I'll let you know if I have a problem with any picture.

5) Posting Order
Generally speaking, posting order doesn't matter. Post when you can. Because we use group initiative, you can still post in any order in combat (once it's the party's turn). In cases where order matters, I will retroactively rearrange the posts to the party's advantage. For example, if Characters A and B are flanking an enemy, and Character A posts first that he moves away while character B posts second that he melee attacks the enemy, I will rearrange the narrative so that Character B attacks with the flanking bonus and then Character A moves. If you were all sitting around a table, you would do this easily, but in PbP, I'll facilitate the same logic for you.

Starship Combat (which will occur in this AP) is kind of another story. Posting order matters depending on which role you are playing on your ship (engineer, pilot, science officer, etc.). Just carefully read the OOGM section of my post, which will spell out exactly what I need from which players and who might need to hold off on posting for now.

6) Disappearing Acts
My goal is to run a fun game and keep it moving. Disappearing acts are not tolerated. You have one week to post after a GM post. If you don't post in that time, I will send you a PM and move on with your character assumed to just quietly go along with the party. If it's combat, I will choose your character's actions and roll for them. Disappear for three weeks in a row and I will retire your character and find a replacement if necessary. Now, being retired can be avoided by the simple act of communication. PM me or post in the OOC thread if life is going to take you away from the game for a while and I'll gladly put your character into NPC status/hiatus. Life happens, we all understand that, but life events that make it impossible to take (literally) less than a minute to log in and send a quick PM or post alerting us to your situation within three weeks are exceedingly rare. Now if you decide you want to leave the game for any reason, that's fine too. Communicate this fact to me and we will part as friends and the door will be open to you for future games that I run. Vanish without a word and that'll be it for us.

7) Site Rules
Please know and observe all site rules on strong profanity, graphic content, politics, etc. Fantasy-world profanity ("frak!") and mild profanity ("crap!") is fine. If anything that anyone writes (including me) crosses the line for you, please let me know--privately if you wish--and I'll handle it immediately. Of course you have the right to contact a mod instead, and I won't hold that against you, though I would prefer to handle it within the group if possible and I promise I'll take all concerns seriously.

8) Character Death
While I am not what you would call a "killer GM," character death in my games is an entirely possible outcome. That said, no player will lose their place in the game if their character dies and is not recoverable through magic. Should your character die and it's not possible to bring them back (or you would prefer not to bring them back), I'll work with you on a plausible way to bring a new character into the adventure. You'll make a new character and we'll get them into the action as quickly as possible. Circumstances may limit or expand upon your choice of race and class.

9) In-game Prejudices
Racial and ethnic tension and prejudice creates conflict and delineates the line between good and evil. These are both good things for a fantasy adventure game. However, it is a game and nobody has the right to hurt other people in its context. So to address this issue, I have one simple rule: if it would offend a reasonable real-world person on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion (I'll get to other kinds of prejudice below), don't put it in your post. If no reasonable real-world person would be so offended, and it makes sense in the context of the setting, then I'll allow it. If you're not sure, either ask me in private or just leave it out.
  • Some of situations are easy. No real-world people are actually insects, so calling a shirren character a "bug" wouldn't offend a reasonable person. It is, however, something that good characters in the game world will definitely judge you on. If I have an NPC say it, understand that I am communicating a character flaw in the NPC. The moral perspective of the narrator is always anti-racist. Characters have flaws and racism can be one of your character's flaws, but be very careful how you express it.
  • Some other situations are also easy: derogatory remarks about the appearance or culture of any Golarion human ethnicity (all of which have real-world analogs) is strictly off limits. There is simply no real difference between a derogatory remark about an Ulfen/Tian/Mwangi and a derogatory remark about a Scandinavian/East Asian/African. I won't do it and neither should you.
  • A non-human insulting humans should keep it general and not focus on specific ethnicity. Be creative. There's lots of things to make fun of humanity about.
  • Cultural/religious prejudices should be expressed in ways that cannot hurt a reasonable real-world person. The Varisian humans worship Desna (symbol is a butterfly) so non-Varisians sometimes call them "moths." That's fine. Real people don't worship Desna and "moth" is not a slur ever used against actual religious, or ethnic groups.
  • Being offended by the existence of fantasy world gods on a religious basis is not, in my opinion, a reasonable position for a player of FRPGs to hold. I say this as a Christian who is able to separate a game from real life. On the flip side of the coin, a Pact World atheist broadly mocking the faith of Pact World religious people can easily (and possibly rightly) be construed as a veiled attack on real world religious people, so that won't be tolerated either.
  • Think about how it might sound. At first glance, a dwarf calling a half-orc a "filthy half-breed" might seem okay. It isn't. Those exact words pop up in the parlance of real-world racists all the time and can be deeply offensive to people of mixed-race. Look for insults that have no potential to hurt real groups of people. The dwarf calls the half-orc a tooth-faced greenhair; the half-orc calls the dwarf a sawed-off little cling-clanger.
  • Bottom line: if it's something a real world bigot would say, don't say it.

Sexism also exists in the Pact Worlds, though to a much lesser extent. If you meet a sexist NPC, again, I am communicating a character flaw in the NPC. I'd rather just not see it at all from players, even fantasy versions of sexism based on things like the shirren's third gender. Orientations other than heterosexual exist in the Pact Worlds, so do transgendered people, and nobody bothers to hold it against anyone. The cultures and religions of this universe just don't care about it, and neither does your PC. That said, the game is PG-13. If your character is sexually active in any way, it's fine to depict that, but let's keep the deeds themselves off camera and not make sex the primary focus of your character or the game.

Some of the above guidelines are subjective--who defines what is "reasonable"? Short answer, I do. Obviously the site moderators do as well, but my goal is to run a game that they don't need to police. If you have any doubts, ask.

Last edited by ruffdove; May 15th, 2021 at 03:06 PM.
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