I have a lot of friends who love Borderlands, I’ve been playing Destiny since the original with a couple of members in my fireteam that have played since Beta. This isn’t to establish gamer cred or something equally intangible, just that if I decided to pick apart the weapon systems from both games and tried to give you more of that random loot drop magic in your Starfinder game, you know where it’s coming from. Borderlands is supposed to have millions of possible combinations, all procedurally generated, mine will not be that.
Impact: Damage per round
Range: Effective range before rounds start to experience damage falloff, this also affects aim assistance.
Stability: A rating of recoil after firing. Higher stability produces lower recoil.
Handling: In Starfinder drawing or sheathing a weapon is a move action unless it says otherwise.
Reload Speed: In Starfinder Reload is a Move action unless otherwise noted. This really reflects everything having a battery or magazine, and doesn’t handle things like shotguns and rocket launchers being loaded one shell at a time. The Quick Reload property is used for Shuriken and Bows, Starfinder Scatterguns use removable magazines and not integral tube magazines as many modern shotguns do. It really doesn’t handle old west guns that were reloaded like muskets or early cartridge guns with shells passing through a loading gate. Starfinder wasn’t designed for gritty realism, or in this case video game pseudo realism.
Rounds Per Minute: We might loosely tie this to Usage
Magazine: Starfinder calls it Capacity.
Zoom: Most Starfinder guns come with iron sights, there are upgrades available. Aim is an action, aiming with a scope should be one kind of action but give ranged bonus, aiming with a red dot sight might confer a similar bonus for shorter ranges as a faster action type, iron sights another type of action for some benefit. Holographic sights m should be fast and can change range increments based on rangefinder distances.
Inventory Size: Starfinder bulk system and various containers handle this.
Aim Assistance: Only Exocortex mechanics get aim assist.
Recoil Direction: An expression of the weapon’s recoil path. Lower recoil direction tends more horizontal recoil than vertical recoil.
Weapon perks are like Accessories from Armory.
Intrinsic: This determines the style of the weapon. Each weapon contains one Intrinsic perk. Exotics have unique perks which often behave more like Traits than like standard Intrinsics.
Sights and Barrels: Sights and Scopes will also affect the stats directly associated with the firing experience. Barrels and Launcher Barrels augment both the firing stats and the projectile’s attributes.
Magazines and Batteries: This either modifies the characteristics of rounds fired or the magazine, generally altering several stats at once. Starfinder Mags and Batteries only refer to ammo and charges, maybe special ammo could go here, Destiny has some heavy rounds, anti-barrier and similar.
Trait 1: This perk has only a net benefit. There is usually only 1 perk per slot, but weapons forged from Ada-1’s Research Frames have an additional Trait option.
Trait 2: This perk has only a net benefit. There is usually only 1 perk per slot.
Stocks and Grips: This perk modifies Handling, Reload Speed and/or Stability. It is available usually when the Intrinsic perk does not do this already. How does the stock or grip change reload speed?
Rarity: A weapon’s rarity indicates both its acquisition rate and the amount of additional perks it contains. Starfinder doesn’t have Common, Uncommon, but Pathfinder 2e does.
This list describes the minimum amount of additional perks available in the rarity, in order from lowest to highest rarity:
- Common: 1 Sight/Barrel perk (Khvostov 7G-02 has only an Intrinsic perk, being the tutorial weapon.). (White)
- Uncommon: 2 Sight/Barrel perks, 1 Magazine/Battery perk. (Green)
- Rare: 2 Sight/Barrel perks, 1 Magazine/Battery perk, Trait 1. (Blue)
- –Unique– Pathfinder 2e calls anything above Rare, Unique and just stops there.
- Legendary: 2 Sight/Barrel perks, 2 Magazine/Battery perks, Trait 1, Trait 2. (Purple)
- Exotic: 1 Sight/Barrel perk, 1 Magazine/Battery perk, Trait 1, 1 Stock/Grip perk. (Gold)
Anything I do with accessories will probably allow all mods in all slots that can take them.
Rarity: Starfinder doesn’t have Common, Uncommon, but Pathfinder 2e does.
Element: This looks like a good proxy for Fire, Cold, Electricity, Sonic, Acid, but also Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning.
Damage: Same as Starfinder.
Accuracy: So Starfinder does not have Masterwork or Magic weapons with weapon bonuses, it assumes everything shoots straight. This isn’t a bad assumption for the way they compressed the bonus math in order to tighten up combat expectations. If you’re going to change this, it will affect the math. One way to imply accuracy without giving to hit bonuses is by changing the range increment. The question then becomes do your fights often make range increment important? Almost every starfinder society scenario I have played in we were always in 1st or 2nd range increment for the 80 ft RI of my azimuth laser pistol. A high accuracy rifle like a Cobra implicitly has recoil reduction. I will find some of the various recoil systems that have been attempted in D20 games and examine how we could use the concept without breaking the game.
Rate of Fire: We’ll use this as a proxy for Usage.
Reload: Same as the notes under Destiny, normally a move action in Starfinder which only recognizes removable magazines, shurikens and bows.
Magazine Capacity: Same as Starfinder.
Burst Fire: Destiny Pulse Rifles and some Sidearms have burst fire. Starfinder really only does single shot and automatic by default. There are a number of alternate burst and automatic rules that have come up in D20 games over time I will present those and the problems they may pose for your game.
Melee Damage: Weapons with bayonets, chainsaws or other attachments may give bonus melee damage. Starfinder handles that as a Bayonet Bracket which allows you to attack a one-handed melee weapon to the bottom rail of a small arm, longarm, sniper rifle or heavy weapon.
Recoil: It’s mentioned under accuracy and under Destiny.
Stability: This might reflect adding collapsible stocks on pistols. In other places we’ve used collapsible stocks and pistol grips for longarms to change the range increment due to more or less stability.
Zoom: Different Rifles/Shotguns/Pistols may have different levels of Zoom. Starfinder assumes iron sights unless you buy better sights or a scope.
Spycraft 2.0 had Recoil, it was overcome by Strength requirements (Starfinder Heavy Weapons have these) and any penalties you had from recoil were doubled during Autofire and Burst fire actions. The Spycraft core rules contained a few weapons mods and other rules pertaining to recoil.
D20 Firearms: The Definitive d20 Guide to Guns
In D20 Firearms, Recoil affected the accuracy of the gun and a higher recoil meant an increasing penalty to hit. Recoil also changed the accuracy of burst fire in where short bursts were like normal attacks and long bursts were resolved by saving throws vs 5 or 10 ft wide lines that went out to multiple range increments.
Infinite Space: Equipment Quirks and Flaws
Louis Porter Jr Design brings us Recoil as an equipment flaw for Starfinder, you take a -1 to hit after your first shot in all multiple attack scenarios such as full attack and automatic fire. This is nearly the same as SpyCraft 2.0 except the weapons all had recoil numbers, not just the bad ones.
55 Minor Weapon Modifications
Rite Publishing brings us a Recoil Absorber that reduces the attack penalty of the second shot at the same target of a full attack but only if the first shot is a Critical. This might get weird for Soldiers and Solarians with their 3-4 attacks and 3 action systems where full attacks don’t exist, but Criticals happen more often due to DC +10 degree of success rules. I believe the idea of making things easier for subsequent attacks on the same target is the core idea of this mod, whether or not it encourages you to focus fire on one target to spread the love around using automatic fire is another question.
The Truth about 3 round bursts and the H&K G11
For a long time the military wanted to put three accurate shots into a target where one bigger bullet had done the same job in the past. There were a lot of odd attempts to meet this requirement, a Colt cartridge with 3 bullets, several weapons with 3 round burst settings and the H&K G11 that fired all 3 rounds while the barrel and action were all still moving from firing the first round. When D20 Modern came out the folks at WotC gave the burst fire feat a 13+ Wisdom requirement despite the fact US forces all had to be trained to do this, there were training issues that lead to the development of 3 round burst settings for M-16 family rifles but the Canadian forces kept working on their training until a 3 round burst was possible through trigger discipline alone.
The folks at Kriss took a whole different direction with their Vector sub-machinegun which the reverse downward action pulls the weapon back and down fighting the recoil and making it more accurate in rapid fire. IF we go down this rabbit hole, the Kriss Vector is going to have to get a mention.
There must be 50 ways to Autofire
Ever since D20 Modern came out, everyone had a different idea about how automatic firing weapons should work. D20 Modern, Spycraft/Stargate, Star Wars, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller all of these games had D20 versions and all of them had automatic weapons. Since people weren’t super happy with the way that Starfinder handled their automatic weapons, I offered to write a supplement that brought back ALL the different Autofire rules from various sources. Since Destiny has pulse rifles, auto rifles, submachine guns and machine guns now is as good a time as any.
I like big guns and I cannot lie
Had this conversation with my Dad on Father’s day, yep. How do you soften the felt recoil of (shot)guns? When he was a professional shooter, this was a question of practical importance. If you shoot 500-1,000 12 gauge shotgun shells over a weekend your shoulder and your competitiveness will pay the price for too much recoil. Padded shoulder on the shooter’s vest, padded recoil butt stock , heavy weight Italian shotgun, hand loaded shotgun shells with slower burning propellants.
There are also things like the S&W 500 with a heavy frame and ported barrel to reduce felt recoil and muzzle rise. If we’re getting into it, we’ll look at all these things, Destiny pays some lip service to these kinds of mods while Borderlands bundles them into ‘accuracy’ which is fine but if that kind of abstraction was enough I wouldn’t have written this article.
The Atchisson Assault Shotgun A-12
The Atchisson Assault Shotgun gets a lot of attention, but the most recent owners took this to a whole new level, they spent millions refining the action, the recoil, the shells are made by them with finely tuned propellant gasses and quality control to make the shooting experience at high rate of fire more predictable. You’re going to get a lesson on that, why the Streetsweeper sucks, and why the different Benelli shotguns are the way they are in order to accommodate different kinds of high and low pressure rounds expected to be used.
The AA12 has a lot of recoil reduction which makes it more accurate, but also would lower the strength requirement to shoot it or the recoil penalty to reacquire a target for subsequent shots.
Because of the focus on shotguns we’re going to talk about Dragon’s Breath and Taser rounds and all sorts of crazy shotgun and grenade launcher rounds.
What about the Energy weapons?
We can use math to figure out the recoil of any real world weapons and maybe even guess about some of the energy weapons like sonic, flame, plasma and cryo weapons. Lasers wouldn’t have much pushback, acid spraying weapons would have some recoil, but disintegrator weapons that do acid damage would not.
If you have any comments about this post, please send them to: