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  1. #1

    My ideas on the SFRPG ruleset

    So here are some ideas that I have on how the SFRPG ruleset might be changed and improved. A lot of this is very technical stuff that goes into the details of the game mechanics. This post generally would fit into the Automation Poll thread but there is also some other stuff in here that would better fit into a bug report thread or even somewhere completely else, so I thought a new thread might work better. I’ll try to sort my thoughts but I might jump a bit in between.
    All of these things came up with my group or in my preparations as a GM and for some of them I did more thorough testing. We play on FGU and I didn’t check any of this in classic specifically. I will also make some assumptions along the way about the programming of the actual ruleset because I don’t know how that’s done. I just figured out what I can about how to do stuff in client and I have a little bit of knowledge about XML.
    Let’s start with PC’s on the main page and work our way through.
    1. PCs
      1. Main Page
        1. Class & Level: It would be nice to be able to adjust the level of a class. I know it doesn’t have a lot of use but there are things like the Mnemonic Editor (CRB 226) that allow you to change things like that as a player and as a GM I enjoy every freedom I have. A little sidenote; when you delete a class fully from a characters sheet it adjusts some stuff like Stamina and Skill Ranks but doesn’t do so for other things like HP and Saves (these are just examples, I didn’t check this in depth because I feel like it would find no use anyway).
        2. Archetypes: Again I didn’t test this in detail because it didn’t come up in my games but as far as I’m aware adding an Archetype to a class doesn’t overwrite the classes features when leveling that class.
          Abilities: When first creating a character the CRB offers three options for determining Ability Scores. For the normal one, which is buying the points it would be nice to add a counter to see how many points you have already spend or how many you have left. And I’d love to see options to choose another method, while still guiding you through character creation for newer players.
        3. Ability Modifications: The “Mod” part of the editor here works great. You can input things like Personal Upgrades (CRB 212) or similar functioning things here without affecting the actual score and thereby the increases on level 5, 10, 15, 20 and other stuff. Same goes for the “Dmg” part. I don’t get the “Equip” section though. First I thought it might be used to insert values of your equipment like the Strength a Powered Armor (CRB 203) has but it also adds to your total score like the others do. Maybe there is a use for that and I’d love to hear it but my go right now would be to change it to work like I mentioned and also fill in Int, Wis and Cha. I feel it looks incomplete and it might come in handy for sentient pieces of Equipment. Intelligent items and their ego isn’t a thing in Starfinder but I can imagine some GMs using homebrew that leans into that.
        4. Combat Editor, Attack Bonus Size Category: As far as I’m aware there are no Bonuses or Penalties applied by just having a certain size.
        5. Damage Reduction: Reposition this to actually see what you type in here and also make this function like the Defensive Abilities section in the NPC sheets so it adds the effects automatically when adding the character to the combat tracker.
      2. Skills Page
        1. Free Skill Ranks: Just make every class be able to use this feature. I think it takes the class level of operative right now and just applies to all skills you ticked. Why not just make all classes be able to have free skills and also it would be nice to actually be able to adjust the number in the box. I guess just the second thing would be the important one cause the box does show up on every character sheet you just can't edit it.
      3. Abilities Page
        1. Automation: This one is simple but probably a lot of work. Proficiency does it and some feats (like toughness) do it already but having all the stuff apply its changes automatically would be nice. Sure you still have to double check what does that and what doesn’t which came up in the automation poll because some things are just not automatable or too complex but i think it makes the usability better still.
      4. Inventory Page
        1. Augmentations: Make this window a little more refined. Since you have a maximum of one augmentation per body part (CRB 208) it would be nice if this window offered a quick look around which systems you have and which “slots” might still be unused.
          Armor (Str): Now here is a thing that actually is for the Strength of your armor but it only applies to carrying capacity and not to anything else.
        2. Financial Assets: First of all make the names of the three slots changeable. When I made the first characters with my group I gave them some credits and UPBs so they would have the slots assigned. It used the first two slots which seemed logic at the time. Some levels later I introduced some pseudo currency which was only relevant for 3 sessions or so and it went (unexpectedly) in the third slot. That’s also when we found out that the third slot is meant to house UPBs since it adds to your encumbrance (CRB 233). So I had to go and export all the characters and change the slot names in the XML files so it fits. Please make it more clear that UPBs belong in the third slot, even preset the name for it. It was really confusing for my players since they suddenly went through a lot of trouble keeping their encumbrance low and I also didn’t know what was going on.
      5. Actions and Spells
        1. Full Attacks: First of all a little bug; When you open up a weapons editor window you can edit a bonus for attacks made with that weapon in general or you can add it for single and full attacks separately. Only the Full Attack Bonus doesn’t actually apply to any rolls.
        2. Triple and Quad Attacks: While you can change the amount of dice used for a so called “Full Attack”. It would be nice to have seperate buttons for triple and quad attacks that some classes get because most of the time they have different penalties and you would have to change not only the dice count but also the bonus. That is as soon as 1.5.1 gets fixed.
        3. Weapon Damage: So long as weapon specialization isn’t automated (and also in general for me) it would be nice have an additional section in the weapon damage formula that would go something like this: + [N] x [ CL | CL/2 | - ] ([N]). Basically like the Mult x Stat (Max) only for CL.
        4. Ability Usage; Opposed Check: Still didn’t figure out how to use this...
        5. Ability Usage; On Save Damaage: Too much a
        6. Ability Management: It would be very cool to have some sort of storage system or at least a way to copy full actions to other character sheets. For stuff like Serums of Healing or Force Fields that find much use its annoying to have to create it from scratch for every character.
        7. Spell/Ability Damage & Heal: Would be nice if the Formula included PC Stats in the Dice Multiplier not only CL, like the Multi x Stat right next to it.
        8. Spell/Ability Damage & Heal: Metamagic is not a thing in Starfinder.
        9. Spell/Ability Damage: The “Spell Dmg?” button is nice but it doesn’t work in the ability page. “Ability” gets added as a damage type any way. Even if this is fixed I have another complaint with this; Neither Ability nor Spell should be damage types but I will come back to this later to talk about it in detail. Ability yes.png Ability no.png
        10. Caster Level Check: I am missing a quick and easy button to just make a Caster Level Check, for spells like Break Enchantment (CRB 341) or Remove Affliction (CRB 373) that don’t get affected by Spell Penetration and similar stuff because Spell Penetration is to overcome SR only and not for all Caster Level Checks you do (CRB 162). Maybe at the top with the Concentration Check button.
        11. Spell Cast: Change up the attack formula to actually be able to choose the Ability you are using for the attack. A lot of spells allow you to replace Strength or Dexterity with your Key Ability Score when making an attack with them. When changing this it’s important to keep the choice between targeting EAC and KAC around. I could imagine a layout like the weapons currently have, so you can add properties. I’ll go into detail about this later on.
        12. Spell Preparation: Since no class in Starfinder actually needs to prepare a certain amount of spells every day but instead just has a certain amount of spell slots it would be better to change the preparation to work like it does in the NPC sheets where you actually have grey ticks in all the spells of the same level.

  2. #2
    1. Ships: I’ll not talk about ships in here, it should be a different combat system from the ground up and the SOM will probably change some stuff again (like COM did).
    2. NPCs
      1. Types: There are already some creature types that (if chosen) automatically apply their corresponding effects in the combat tracker, even though most of them don’t actually do anything. More on this second part also later. Adding the missing types would be nice.
      2. Aura: Don’t think this does anything currently. Would be cool if it did but I imaging that would require the possibility to read distances between units somehow, which is obviously not part of the SFRPG ruleset.
      3. Weaknesses: Why is this incorporated in the Defensive Abil. Section if there is a seperate section for it?
      4. Offense: Some sort of functionality that allows you to choose the armor class an attack actually targets would be nice. As far as I’m aware this is currently dependent on the type of damage you deal, which works in most cases but there are exceptions. Also the ability to apply effects on a successful attack along with the damage would be nice. See Grab (AA 155) as an example.
      5. Reach: I don’t know if this is SFRPG or Fantasy Grounds but actually making reach circular instead of quadratic would be nice.
      6. Spells: Why are non prepared spells not visible in the combat mode, or rather why is a NPC sheet in the combat tracker always in combat mode when locked. You can’t see any 0 level spells and I feel this is just confusing.
    3. Some additional Stuff
      1. Item Forge: Crafting an armor in the item forge removes AC Penalty and Upg. Slots values on the armor created.
      2. Diseases and Poisons: This has been mentioned in the Automation thread before. It would be nice to have some sort of tracker for diseases and poisons with maybe even effects pre prepared.
      3. Ability Damage: Since PC sheets do have a section for Ability Damage it would be nice for NPCs to directly target that somehow. Just a little bit of automation.
    4. Combat Tracker, Effects and Damage Categorizations: Now I kept the best thing for last. This is my biggest point of interest but simultaneously the most theoretical and most mechanical.
      1. Damage Types: Starfinder has (if my quick research on this is correct) not a whole lot of damage types. There are the obvious ones: bludgeoning, piercing and slashing are all the kinetic types; acid, cold, electricity, fire and sonic are the energy types.Then there are some ones that are mostly uncategorized, these are: bleed, force and uncategorized. And also negative and positive damage are just very briefly mentioned. Also there is Ability Damage but this doesn’t fit into the rest, since it targets a different value. Now Fantasy Ground recognises the energetic types and force, positive, negative and untyped damage and applies the fitting resistances or no resistances where applicable. But it also recognises everything else as a physical damage type. For example you can deal “totally balanced” damage which gets reduced by DR if you were to type that into the type section of any damage. Totaly Balanced.png This is a problem. Bleed damage isn’t recognised as untyped but rather as a form of physical damage and thereby gets reduced by damage reduction. It shouldn’t be, I talked with deer_buster about this in a bug report thread and I still think my reasoning holds up. Now to fix this you could make all damage that isn’t recognised as a special type of damage be uncategorized instead of physical or you could change bleed damage specifically. (I’d prefer the first option). Damage can also be of multiple types at the same time. For example a plasma weapon deals electricity and fire damage. This means it would deal half its damage as each of these weapon types after rolling the damage. In Fantasy Grounds you can do this to by writing ”E, F” or “E & F” (if we stick to this example) into the Type section of the Damage. But now things get weird. I don’t exactly know what fantasy grounds does in these cases so I can just report my findings and build on that. If the target has no resistances on the used damage types it doesn’t matter. If the target has either one of the two the amount of resistance is applied correct as well. Now if the targets has resistance against both types of damage it subtracts both resistances but only if it’s not more than half the original damage. E & F 1.png E & F 2.png Now why does half of the damage always go through, even if it shouldn’t? I don’t know. Btw if the target has one Immunity and one Resistance it works again like it should. Now I get back to the Ability and Spell damage being added as “damage type” I mentioned earlier. Let’s say I use an Electrostatic Field, which I put in the actions tab since its an item and that makes sense to me. The Mk 3 version of it deals 3d6 E damage to an opponent that hits with a melee weapon but since “Ability” gets added it now deals “electricity, Ability” damage. Electrostatic Field.png As you can see the Test Subject has electricity resistance which should reduce the damage it takes from the field to 0 in almost all cases but since half of the damage is considered to be “Ability” damage he will always take half damage regardless. Same goes for Spells. Let’s say I cast Arcing Surge which deals 10d6 electricity damage. This is obviously spell damage since it came from a spell so I put the “Spell Dmg?” box on yes. Arcing Surge.png And yet again the test subject took the wrong amount of damage since half of it is considered to be “spell” damage. In this case Immunity always cuts the damage in half as well. Now there are ways to work around this but it shouldn’t be this way in the first place. “ability” and “spell” are NOT damage types. They are properties damage can have and with this we get into the next point.
      2. Properties for Attacks, Damage, etc.: I won’t list all of the possible options here, since there’s a lot of them but what I’m getting at is that a weapon, damage, spells and creatures can have certain properties that are very relevant for interacting with each other. For example a Weapon might have a special property like entangle (CRB 181) that applies on hit or a weapon fusion like ghost killer (CRB 194) that makes you hit enemies in a different way. Damage might be considered magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction, or could come from a weapon made of a specific material like cold iron for the same effect. In Fantasy Grounds, there currently is no way to actually use any of this, with one exception. In a weapons editor you can define properties to hit eac or kac. But to make a weapon overcome damage reduction like DR 5/magic you can add the “magic” damage type. Or to overcome DR 10/cold iron you can add cold iron… Now as mentioned above this is completely wrong since none of these are “damage types” and you could run into more complications than you solve with this. Also most Spells have descriptors like mind-affecting or fear. There are again a lot of these but the important thing is that you, or rather creatures can have a bonus against or even be immune to these. Fantasy Grounds already adds [IMMUNE: ?] as an effect for some creature types that have these immunities but they don’t do anything.
      3. Conclusion: Again I don’t know how this works with the programming behind all this but my idea would be this:
        1. Make all the existing damage types recognised by Fantasy Grounds and everything that doesn’t fit be considered untyped or at least uncategorized so it doesn’t interfere with the other ones.
        2. Fix the multiple damage types in one
        3. Remove the “Metamagic” and “Spell Dmg?” buttons on the Spell/Ability Damage Editor and replace them with a Properties Section like the one in the Weapon Damage Editor, thereby also removing the Ability and Spell “damage type”.
        4. This is probably the hardest part but like there is “vs. eac” and “vs. kac” create working properties you can put into these new windows that allow you to define what something does in detail. For example a “ghost killer” one that makes you hit incorporeal creatures. Or a “mind-affecting” that defines a spell as mind-affecting.
        5. Make Effects to actually target these properties. So Incorporeal creatures work properly or an “IMMUNE: mind-affecting” undead shows no reaction to the Mind Thrust just used at him. Or the Vesk can add his Fearless racial talent to all throws against fear effects with a SAVE: 2 fear. These are of course just examples but I think you can see where I’m getting at.

    One last thing: My group and I only recently joined Fantasy Grounds or VTTs as a whole for that matter and we were impressed with the amount of automation and support for this system. We know it’s a small system compared to D&D or Pathfinder and you developers putting this thing up and maintaining it in your free time means a lot to us. Huge thank you from all of us.

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