This post isn’t finished, but this draft is ready for comments.
So ERG has a task converting Galaxy Pirates species from Starfinder to Dungeons and Dragons 5e and that is challenging because the expectations and capabilities of each system are different. Owen has an ambitious project that releases every new supplement in 4 D20 rule systems, Pathfinder 1e, Pathfinder2e, Starfinder, and D&D 5e. There is a problem finding developers that are competent in all four systems, even folks who can convert from any of the Paizo systems to 5e are in high demand, but all four it’s a small group. So I’m working on a little more developer-facing content, those posts are usually marked game design.
At PaizoCon in 2019, the Pathfinder developers told us each new ancestry, not races, has a bunch of feats that it can take, like a lot of feats. Now that great variety is never intended to be taken by a single character the variety is there to allow for a lot of different characters to be built on the same chassis. The folks at Everybody Games have made a version of this for Starfinder called Starfarer Species Reforged. If we were to release a Galaxy Pirates Core Rules based on Starfinder we’d like to include the Alex Agunas style species with Pathfinder 2e style toolkits. We’ll come back to feats, but let’s break down what each ruleset gives each gives a starting character based on what they were born with or born into.
I’d like to start working on the Galaxy Pirates race, we’ll do the Katar Lion Men first.
In Starfinder you get to point buy your character, all attributes start at 10 and then add an ability boost for your ancestry, 2 from your background, and one from your class to your class’s key ability score. You get ability boosts to four ability scores every 5 levels.
Originally the Katar were sexually dimorphous, the tendency for the genders to be built differently physically. The males were large brutes originally started like Pathfinder Dwarves and the females were slender and clever. This would make males and females closer to subraces in 5e just because of the sexual dimorphism. It gets worse with traits, but we’ll talk about that later.
As we talked about in the Rosetta Stone post, we’ll be using Mordenkainen’s Multiverse standard of +2, +1, or +1, +1, +1 for attributes so you can make big beefy cats and slender brilliant cats with no need to predispose your character based on race or gender, so awkward subraces averted.
5e only has Darkvision, low light vision no longer exists. Katar originally had Low Light vision and some possessed the Scent ability to track, other versions had Keen Senses I believe we’ll probably stick with Darkvision and Keen Senses.
Dwarves have beards and braids, Elves have Beatles haircuts and pointy ears, Halflings have hairy feet, etc. Young male Katar have ponytails and short beards, older males have full manes and some even have full beards. Female Katar have short fur.
Feats and Traits
The Pf2e Assimar gets to choose from 3 feats at 1st, 3 feats at 5th, 4 feats at 9th, 4 feats at 13th, and 1 feat at 17th. That’s 15 feats to choose from and that makes for a lot of different Assimar walking around your game world. I’ll edit this for species reforged, but since I never built them to this spec, I have Pathfinder/Starfinder notes to go by. Some Katar had desert survival and stealth, others had ancestral weapons, but they’re a lot more varied than that, they could be space miners for instance, which dips into background territory for Pathfinder 2e and D&D 5e.
In D&D 5e I looked at the Leonin of Theros an older book that predates the changes from Multiverse, and the Tabaxi from Multiverse, some of the different races get Claw attacks, others get Bites, things we think about from Earth lions but that’s lions, not humanoids evolved from lion-like creatures. If you try to hold up a level 1 character of any race with a level 1 monster, with 1d6 claws and 1d8 bite, keen scent, pounce, you’re going to always feel wanting. Katar fight with swords, they fight in power armor, they travel among the stars, and not having the giant toothy maw of their ancestors isn’t a weakness. Even if I wanted to have one in 1,000 Katar males to have a giant toothy maw, he could get cyber implants, I wouldn’t prescribe them for the entire species. The daintier female would look terrible with 1d8 bite attacks and giant claws.
A bigger part of who the Katar is still centered around their senses, they have darkvision, but do they keep the Keen Senses, it’s just a skill, should we give them Keen Scent, like the Lion, an advantage on perception checks with smell? Would a smell-focused character even work in a game where you might be wearing a spacesuit or power armor all the time? If we’re giving away skills, should it just be a trait that lets you pick one from a list of relevant skills and not one prescribed? Do all Katar character concepts need Perception?
Feats in Starfinder are a lot more available than 5e, feats come at you every other level and increase the complexity and competency of your character.
Feats in D&D 5e are a very limited resource, you only get them at character creation and every five levels you can choose a feat instead of ability score increases, there are very few feats people choose over ability score increases.
So how do we take multiple fully fleshed-out Starfinder Reforged style ancestries and meaningfully convert them into D&D 5e races and subraces?
Mordenkainen Presents Monsters of the Multiverse – May 2022 – changed things up a bit;
- Ability Score Increases are either +2 and +1 to any two stats OR +1 to three different stats making the optional rule from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything official.
- You start off speaking Common and one other language you and your GM can agree on. Tasha’s had a list of alternate starting languages, but it’s basically free with DM approval now.
- Races take up one page each, nothing about height, weight, what kind of names they have, and fluff that kept most PHB races to 2+ pages.
- Lots of Small creatures have 30ft movement, suck it Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes.
- This is a book full of reprints so I don’t know if this is from two different style guides, but they can’t decide if Darkvision is the first ability after speed or goes with the other abilities alphabetically.
Ancestries from the Galaxy Pirates 2012 playtest core rulebook, 2015 updates
|Ancestry||Ability Increase||Size||Speed||Vision||Languages||Ancestral Abilities|
|Assassins||+2 DEX, +2 INT, -2 CON||Medium||30ft||Blind||Common||Blindsight, Transparent, Sniping, or Running Stealth bonuses|
|Eldred||+2 DEX, +2 INT, -2 CON||Medium||30ft||Low||Common||Keen Senses, Racial Weapons, 3 subraces, up to seven traits to choose from|
|Kaldir||+2 FREE||Medium||30ft||Low||Common||Keen Senses, Skill Bonuses, +2 Saves vs Cold, Racial Weapons|
|Katar||+2 STR, +2 CON, -2 CHA||Medium||30ft||Low||Common||Powerful Build, Racial Weapons, pick one of five minor traits, |
pick one of three major traits
|Kopek||+2 FREE||Medium||30ft||Low||Common||Bonus Feat, Construct Immunities, Keen Senses, 2 Favored Classes, Repair skill|
|Slavern||+2 STR, +2 CON, -2 CHA||Medium||30ft||Dark||Common||Craven, Suspicious, Racial Weapons,|
|Trogon||+2 FREE||Medium||30ft||Dark||Common||Intimidating, Relentless Endurance, Racial Weapons|
So if I take a rough cut at the Katar and a lot of different similar racial abilities from Mordenkainen’s and other books, this is what I get. We’re going to assume +2, +1, or +1, +1, +1 for abilities and Common plus one extra language to fit the newest thinking coming out of WotC. I won’t be spending a lot of time on converting Humans.
You’ll notice there wasn’t a stat array for female Katar in the playtest, we’ll try to keep the traits open for versatile concepts and the variable ability boosts don’t favor one gender over another.
Ability Scores go to the +2,+1 or +1,+1,+1 Mordekainien’s method
Katar remain, Medium-size creatures
Katar continue to have at least 30ft movement
As Low-Light vision does not exist in 5e, Darkvision 60ft will have to do
Katar will speak Common and one bonus language from the setting-specific list
Powerful Build is basically the same in 5e, but it is not appropriate for all character concepts
Keen Senses, nothing changes if we decide it’s important for them to have them
Racial Weapons, there’s not a compelling argument for all Katar to be proficient with their ancestral weapons
Minor Traits characters picked one
- Aura of Menace, Intimidate, there are a lot of racial traits that grant Intimidate or similar effects
- Outcast, grants Survival, there are a lot of racial traits that grant Survival or other skills
- Resilient, +1 Fort Saves, would probably be advantage or limited rerolls
- Swordsman, +1 AoOs with a list of Finesse weapons, maybe copy Savage Attacks, but with finesse weapons
- Unafraid, +2 Save vs Fear Effects, would probably be advantage or limited rerolls
Major Traits characters picked one
- Ancestral Weapon, masterwork weapon, and proficiency with it
- Desert Runner, +4 on CON checks and Fort saves to avoid fatigue or exhaustion from forced marches, hot or cold environments
- Sun-blasted, +2 Survival checks, and make navigation checks as if you had the proper tools on hand, maybe advantage
Looking at all the 5e racial traits that might fit
I looked at Leonin’s Daunting Roar, once per long rest, you can make others in 10ft frightened, weak sauce, and doesn’t fit all the character concepts.
The Kobold’s Draconic Cry gives your allies advantage against enemies in 10ft for a turn and it’s useable proficiency times per long rest, that’s better but still doesn’t fit all character concepts. I really like that giving its allies advantage is similar to having Pack Tactics which Lions get.
Minotaur’s Imposing Presence lets you be proficient in either Intimidation or Persuasion we could put that on a pick-six list with survival and perception and other focussed skills and be more versatile. The Half Orc’s Menacing only grants Intimidation.
Bugbears, Firbolgs, and Orcs get Powerful Build, you can carry, drag, lift, or push as if you were one size bigger. It might be hilarious to see the female Katar tech pitch an ally over her shoulder and fireman’s carry them away from danger, but it’s gimmicky, not a thing to build a character around in a world with power armor, anti-gravity devices, vehicles, and robot helpers. The Goliath’s Little Giant is a better version of Powerful Build.
Long Limbed gives you +5ft of Reach, some male martial builds could benefit from this, but it’s not universally applicable so it’s cut from primary consideration.
Dwarves in the PHB have two sub-races-specific traits that are equal to Toughness or Light and Medium Armor Proficiency. If I’m taking any class that gets armor proficiencies my sub-race only gives me the Strength bonus, you don’t get to pick different feats or proficiencies if you get the same one from multiple sources in 5e it’s a menu, not a toolbox. Since female squishy character concepts don’t need toughness or armor training making it universal is out, martial will get armor from their class. Likewise, proficiency with racial weapons is out of place with non-combat builds and duplicates effort for no benefit on martial builds. I get that some folks want to cast spells AND swing a sword like Gandalf, but that’s one concept, not a whole species.
Katar and the Galaxy Pirates setting aren’t magical, but the various spellcasting traits give you something at 1st, 3rd, and 5th equivalent to 0th, 1st, and 2nd level spells. So maybe there’s some progression out there worth exploring of non-spell abilities that grow with the character.
Dwarves have Artisan Tools and the Warforged are the only other ones who get this, I don’t believe there’s any one Tool or set of tools that are so intrinsically tied to the nature of the Katar people that all of them should have one.
There are traits that give everyone of the same race advantage on one kind of saving throw, one particular skill, or a reroll once per long rest. None of those really fit.
I kind of like the Tinker Gnome Trait for something Jim is working on right now, but we’ll get into that later, the Kopek might have similar abilities with technology as the Artificer Lore and Tinker Gnome abilities on top of being robots.
Half-Orcs Relentless Endurance might seem appropriate for a male Katar warrior, but it doesn’t work equally well for all concepts. The Half-Orc Savage Attacks only come up 5% of the time, but could be really representative of the Katar two-handed hard fighting style, the more finesse-based one and two-weapon fighting styles probably benefit more from precision damage. I could make it all weapons the same as the Half-Orc ability and credit it to the Sword Masters training being thorough.
Kobold Legacy allows you to pick from three equivalent traits, I like the idea of bundling some of the more iconic traits that would fit some Katar character concepts while not forcing every character into a box.
Eberron’s Orcs Aggressive can move their speed towards an enemy as a bonus action. It’s not for everybody, but it certainly shows how some Katar fight. It doesn’t say how often you can use it, it’s from 2019, I could see some folks thinking it’s OP. Tabaxi’s Feline Agility lets them move extra one round and then move zero another round to reset the ability, that seems more balanced to me.
Traits under consideration
Lion’s Roar. As a bonus action, you let out a menacing roar at enemies within 10 feet of you. Until the start of your next turn, you and your allies have advantage on attack rolls against any of those enemies who could hear you. You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
Powerful Build. You are treated as one size larger than normal for purposes of how much you can carry, drag, lift, or push.
Pick one or two from a list of six skills; Intimidate, Perception, Persuasion, Stealth, and Survival, I’m sure there are more skills from a modern list that could be useful. Insight replacing Sense Motive might be the appropriate sixth skill on the list for Katar as some are known for being very wise to deception and trickery.
Relentless Endurance. the legends of great Katar warriors come from somewhere
Legendary Origin. When you roll a 1 on attack, ability check, or save, you can reroll the die and must take the new number. This seems like you can use it on every 1, I was thinking once per long rest. I need it to be restricted enough to be in the same ballparks as the other choices.
in 5e should get 30ft movement, abilities, and languages per the new standard. So let’s get to the feats
Ability Scores go to the +2,+1 or +1,+1,+1 Mordekainien’s method
Kopek remain Medium size creatures
Kopek continue to have at least 30ft movement
As Low-Light vision does not exist in 5e, Darkvision 60ft will have to do
Kopek will speak Common and one bonus language from the setting-specific list
Keen Senses, nothing changes if we decide it’s important for them to have them
Construct Immunities are the Warforged Constructed Resilience in 5e
2 Favored Classes, 5e doesn’t do Pathfinder-style favored classes
Repair skill, this still makes sense for living robots to have some skill at repair, which might be called different things under different modern and future 5e rulesets
Warforged Quirks aren’t necessarily a great fit for the Kopek, and the Glitchling from Unearthed Arcana has Quirks that might fit better, but forced character bits turn cliche real fast.
Warforged’s Sentry’s Rest makes sense for a Kopek to be in power-saving mode for so many hours per night and still have minimally active sensors
Warforged’s Integrated Protection kind of makes sense they basically wear integrated armor plates and have 1 point of natural armor, the Glitchling has AC 14+Dex modifier without wearing any armor
Warforged’s Specialized Design makes them proficient with one set of tools like Dwarves
Rock Gnomes Tinker Ability to make devices
Kopek Integrated Technology
Kopek were supposed to be able to incorporate weapons from Berserkers (their common ancestor) into their own frames, we’re going to look at Sentient Magic Items because Kopek have distributed intelligence among all their parts, and swapping out your normal arm for a plasma blaster arm means that the plasma arm’s “kill all living things” programming is still in control of the firing mechanism. The Destroyer Item Purpose will have to be reprogrammed to resolve this conflict. The Kopek replaces the programming and memories of the Berserker with their own. Conflicts between the new arm and the wielder will be resolved using the rules under the Conflict heading up to and including the character being charmed for 1d12 hours, which is why the Kopek have a reputation for going rogue and killing people. There will be a method of wiping the new parts before adding them, but if you just strap the new gear on, you do what the gear says or roll the Charisma save. There won’t just be arms, there will be sensors, power cores, and all sorts of Berserker tech that Kopek initially had forsaken because the “kill all living things” drive in the tech was too strong to fight while living close to organics. Now thousands of years later, Kopek are taking up the ancient weapons in the fight against the old enemy.
The Eldred get weird compared to the previous two species, the Eldred are colorful species, they have pearl white to tan skin naturally, but trace elements in other environments will cause changes in their skin tone, the most prevalent difference is the yellow skin tone of spacers, the indigo skin coloration of Eldred from one of the early settlements and the red skin coloration of a recent settlement that underwent a radical environmental shift and the elements in the atmosphere caused severe neurological changes on the settlers. All Eldred except for the Indigo have been subject to a period of compulsory service in the self-defense forces which should grant them some proficiency with the Naval Cutlass, Sabers, Naval Service Pistols, and Profession: Space Service.
The Eldred are Space Elves so they had Low Light vision and Keen Senses they would now have Darkvision. Keen Senses may or may not stick.
The Indigo Eldred had Obsessed, pick one Craft or Profession skills trait, or Academic an alternate trait that picked one Knowledge skill. That will probably just be a longer list now.
The Indigo Eldred had Master Tinker proficiency with Disable Device and Knowledge Engineering that replaced the Compulsory Service and Keen Senses traits.
The Spacer Eldred had an environmental suit proficiency, the ability to temporarily fix broken items, and the ability to buy broken items at half cost up to 50 credits per character level.
The Scarlet Eldred had Berserker Ferocity which is the same as Relentless Endurance where you don’t die at 0 hit points.
The Slavern are Space Gnolls, they are strong and hardy growing up on a desert planet turned into an irradiated atomic wasteland. The brutal might makes right society that dominates their world spits out its fair share of brutes, there are however educated and cunning Slavern that run smuggling operations to acquire what they can’t make or steal for themselves. Some primitive goods are made by Slavern workshops and their old starships are kept flying much longer than people would expect them to.
Slavern get new style ability scores, Darkvision because they always had it, Common plus a free language off the list, Medium size, move 30. Keen Senses might also stay.
Playtest Slavern had a Halfling trait called Craven which meant they were cowards and easily frightened, it granted extra movement when running away. This led to the death of one of the playtest characters when he ran away from approaching Zombies into more Zombies and a dead end. It was replaceable with Halfling Luck and Fearless.
Playtest Slavern had Suspicious which made Sense Motive a class skill and granted a small bonus, this could be Insight under 5e.
Playtest Slavern had Racial Weapons which included battle axes, and machine pistols
Traits under consideration
Slavern might get Powerful Build, some unsettling Hyena’s Warcry, something like Pack Tactics, I’ll dredge the Orc and Bugbear traits, but they’re also survivors and talented scavengers and cunning that should come through somehow.
The Trogon who were conceptualized after a line about Troglodytes having a lost forgotten empire were largely based off of Orcs; Darkvision, 30ft movement, Intimidating, Relentless Endurance, Racial Weapons. Given their place in the setting there were two concepts of Imperial Trogon and Outer Worlds Trogon which all depended on what side of the jump gates you were on when the network closed.
The Outer Worlds collapsed without the support of their empire and fell into anarchy. The outer worlds were all mining and agricultural worlds so the people who lived there were hardy which is why we had Relentless Endurance and Intimidating. They favored Strength and Constitution and not Charisma.
The Imperials maintained their civilization and continued fighting the old enemy. The Imperials had strong martial traditions and everyone practiced with their weapons to be ready for the day the enemy reached them. They favored Dexterity, Intelligence, technology, and heavy doses of genetic engineering.
The Trogon are somewhat based on Komodo Dragons, they do have big jaws, and the Outer Worlds stock might have bite attacks either naturally or cyber-enhanced. They also might be good candidates for a natural armor bonus. They aren’t likely to have claw attacks, but a tail whip, very common in Starfinder, is not out of the question. Trogon tails are not prehensile without cybernetic augmentation.
Trogon enjoy sunbathing, their starships are all equipped with heat lamps in their crew quarters, and the ship’s lighting is tied to the day/night cycle of the crew’s homeworld and the color frequencies of their home star. The walls and decks of their ships are made of alloys, but made to appear like marble and are kept slightly above the ambient temperature. The Gyms on their ships contain resistance training equipment built into the walls, but also serve as a training room for practicing their martial arts and meditation under the heat lamps.
The Voltura were the Slavern’s patrons before the Eldred war, as they were also descended from carrion eaters, they saw something of themselves in the Slavern and they tried to save them from the violent ways they had overcome. Unfortunately, the hardest lessons must be learned on your own and the Slavern did not heed the words of their benefactors and used the new tools they were given to exact vengeance on their clan rivals. Ships were also dispatched to crater the Voltura homeworld lest any Slavern faction’s allies bring reinforcements. They were as thorough as they were petty and both worlds bore the scars of battle upon a burning atomic wasteland.
Voltura practice flying sword style and hold their duels in the air with daring dives and whirls between the jagged cliffs and outcroppings of their homeworld. Their bodies are lightweight and when lightly encumbered they are able to fly equal to their walking speed. They might be good candidates for a bite attack, and talons as well.
In the playtest Voltura had Low-Light Vision and Keen Senses, in 5e they’ll at least have Darkvision, they also had Racial Weapons, Ancestral Weapons, a trait that gave them an initiative bonus, a trait that gave them a bonus to defense when passing through threatened areas, they had the ability to dart through tiny spaces, make slashing fly by attacks and substitute flying skill for any acrobatics checks necessary while flying. Since only the Aarakocra fly 30ft and have 1d6 Talons, Assimar and Fairies can fly their walking speeds, there aren’t too many racial traits to borrow from. Adding in extra sources, Sword Coast – Winged Tieflings, Owlin from Strixhaven all fly 30ft like they walk. Aarakocra from Elemental Evil Player’s Guide and Wildemount both had 50ft flight and 1d4 Talons.
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