Mass Effect in Starfinder
This week I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite D20 Sci-fi setting in the citadel.
Races: Mass effect is full of odd races, are Asari just long-lived aloof space elves? Krogan just reskinned Vesk, Turians the lawful but militaristic Half-Orcs of the galaxy? Are Volus just weird Ysoki?
The Husks would be technological zombies and you could use a lot of different insect life to simulate Collectors.
Classes: We get soldiers, operatives, and envoys right out of the box, Asari Justicars are either reskinned solarions or mystics using mostly Psionics to emulate Biotic powers. Mechanics with Exocortex wouldn’t be too weird for ME, the drones were never in much gameplay for the players, but you fought plenty of flying stuff drones would fit in-universe.
The presence or absence of magic in the setting does not affect the Envoy’s class features.
The presence or absence of magic in the setting does not affect the Mechanic’s class features.
The presence of absence of magic in the setting does not affect most of the Operative’s class features. Mentalist’s Bane might be less useful, but as there are a lot of Interrogation machines and mind control technology and mind-affecting drugs and memory altering technology this class feature it isn’t at all out of place for the setting.
The following class features (and lesser abilities under their heading) would not be available to a Soldier in a no-magic campaign.
- Gear Boost: Anchoring Arcana
- Fighting Style: Arcane Assailant
Skills: Without Magic, the skill Mysticism is probably the only one that doesn’t belong.
Biotic abilities can easily be simulated with psychic ones. A really deep dive would make class abilities and progressions based on the video game classes and ability trees.
Feats: Without Magic, the following feats (and their lesser greater versions) serve no purpose; Agile Casting, Combat Casting, Connection Inkling, Harm Undead, Mystic Strike, Psychic Power, Penetrating Spell, Spell Focus, Spell Penetration, Spellbane, Technomantic Dabbler. Used as Biotic abilities some of them would be useful again.
Equipment: What about all the gear? In Armory there is a Collapsing Weapon Accessory and Collapsing Stock that would emulate a lot of the compact folding nature of weapons in Mass Effect.
- ME1 has Assault Rifles, Pistols, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, and Grenades.
- ME2 adds Heavy Pistols, Heavy Weapons, and Submachineguns.
- ME3 keeps the same weapons as ME2
“more men have been killed by that gun than died in the Skyllian Blitz”
Assault Rifle upgrades: Stability Damper, Magazine Upgrade, Piercing Mod, Extended Barrel, Precision Scope, Omni-Bayonet, Thermal Scope, High Velocity Barrel, Ultralight Materials
Pistol upgrades: Melee Stunner, Piercing Mod, Magazine Upgrade, High Caliber Barrel, Scope, Ultralight Materials, Heavy Barrel, Cranial Trauma, Power Magnifier
Shotgun Upgrades: Magazine Upgrade, Shredder Mod, Blade Attachment, High Caliber Barrel, Smart Choke, Omni-Blade, High-Velocity Barrel, Ultralight Materials
Sniper Rifle Upgrades: Concentration Mod, Magazine Upgrade, Extended Barrel, Piercing Mod, Enhanced Scope, Thermal Scope, High-Velocity Barrel, Ultralight Materials
Submachinegun upgrades: Ultralight Materials, Magazine Upgrade, High Caliber Barrel, Scope, High-Velocity Barrel, Recoil System, Power Magnifier
Starfinder Core Rulebook and Armory: Bayonet Bracket, Folding Grip, Inertial Dampener, Scope (Clarity Scope), Collapsing Stock, Piercing Special Weapon Property, Longframe Ammunition Magazine
55 Minor Weapon Modifications: Collapsing, Extra Clip Well, Long Barrel, Polymer Frame
Grenades: Flashbang, Inferno, Arc (EMP), Frag, Lift (Reverse Gravity),
The Omni Tool would simulate a lot of toolkits or be like the Poly Hand cybernetic.
We can probably assume armor and weapons grinding are part of the ME setting, getting new shields as often as possible certainly fits. We’d need to play with the force fields themselves such that the Brown was available at level 1 (this Citadel is a big place +2 Item Level seems appropriate) and only takes up one or less upgrade slots as shields are ubiquitous in ME even in very thin suits.
Silver is the only Special Material from the Core Book that exists. Weapon Fusions shouldn’t exist, but you might see special ammo that emulates some of the properties they give you. Durable would just be for hardy weapons. We’d need to create some new ammo types from the video game. Mass Effect Ammo would include:
- Armor Piercing (As Penetrating, Ignore item level hardness)
- Cryo (Staggered critical effect)
- Disruptor (+Item level damage vs shields)
- Incendiary (Burn critical effect)
- Shredder (+damage to unarmored/unshielded targets)
- Warp (+damage)
We could probably get the full range of energy weapons from Starfinder into Mass Effect, but the setting doesn’t have Lasers, Plasma, Shock, or Cryo guns by default.
Cybernetic replacement limbs and other implants are on a case-by-case basis from your GM. Shepard was fully rebuilt with biological pieces, not a cyborg-looking hardbody so while the implants may look rough they aren’t necessarily full metal.
Biotech, is cloning and genetically modifying your kids really part of the setting or just a plot device for Miranda and her sister?
Computers, there are no Spell Chips, even a Biotic version doesn’t exist in the setting. The real-world hacking I’m working on for Ghost Guns might work better than the basic rules in Starfinder.
Technological Item, the Regeneration Table might perfectly simulate the kinds of things Cerberus did to bring Shepard back. Unlimited comm units to talk to the Citadel at any time, letting the council call you in from all over the Galaxy just to say they don’t believe you in person.
Magic Items, don’t exist in the setting. The GM might reskin some magic items to represent Protean and other High Tech artifacts.
Hybrid Items, don’t exist in the setting. If your GM wants to let you rework your character you don’t need a Mnemonic Editor, just do a training montage at your next level. Everybody says they’ll replay and make all the conversation choices, but they fall into their old patterns and can’t be mean to their favorite NPCs.
Vehicles, Starfinder vehicles are super slow to keep character and vehicle combat compatible. For Mass Effect I’d need to make the Mako slightly faster than walking and have it get caught on terrain all the time. The shuttle is another tiny sized 2 person crewed shuttle that can hold the entire away team and should fit nicely in the Normandy’s shuttle bay,
Starfinder vehicles are super slow to keep character and vehicle combat compatible. For Mass Effect I’d need to make the Mako slightly faster than walking and have it get caught on terrain all the time.
Starships: The few shuttles we see would be better off as Vehicles. The Normandy is probably best approximated by a Destroyer frame. The Normandy is 125 meters as stated by Bioware or 410 ft long she still fits in the Large vessel that carries smallcraft class of ships Starfinder doesn’t support. If the Mako and shuttle are just vehicles we can stuff them in cargo bays, but it feels weird.
Most of the FTL travel between star systems is through the Mass Relays and not hyperdrives present on the ships themselves.
Starship combat is usually a lot of cut scenes and not handled by the FPS engine so we can use Starfinder’s starship combat, but it would be just as true to the setting to handwave it depending on whether or not the PCs had stockpiled enough allies and superweapons ahead of time.
Magic and spells don’t exist in the setting. Biotic powers would simulate things like Reverse Gravity though.
Game Mastery nothing comes immediately to mind.
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