My Galactic Magic subscription copy showed up yesterday, I flipped through the book twice and was a little concerned by the noises the spine made as I slowly flipped the pages.
Chapter 1: Classes
New Class: Precog
The first part of the book is the new character class the Precog short for precognitive or someone who sees the future. You might be familiar with the concept from the movies Minority Report and Push, or TV series like Farscape and Babylon 5. Precogs used to be called Seers in Fantasy and easily go back as far as Greek mythology. Precogs can be hard to write stories about that reveal enough detail to the reader to be satisfying and hold enough back enough information to keep up the suspense. Vague prophecies, unreliable witnesses, and mistaken identity or misinterpretation typically are the plot devices used to keep the prophecy from giving away the ending of the story.
The Ask: With all this background including the difficulties using precognition as a story element, how do we give a character the ability to see the future in a game where other players and die rolls can change the outcome without making the ability useless? What new mechanics do we introduce for the precog and are there any new GM tools to help run adventures with Precog characters in them as PCs or NPCs?
The Ability: The Precog gets to roll a pool of D20s and keep them for later use with their class abilities. A divine caster in my Runelords game has Cleromancy which lets you roll D4s equal to your level and keep all the 1s, 2s, 3s, or 4s and add them as luck bonuses before you run out of numbers or the spell duration ends. It’s obvious why you’d take all 4s it’s the highest bonus, but you might want all of the 2s instead to add bonuses to the most rolls. For the Precog, you roll d20s equal to 1 plus half your Dex bonus and get to use them to power abilities or use them for a growing number of die rolls. In this case, Paradoxes keep all the d20 rolls but the different abilities can make use of high and low numbers.
The Precog is a Dex and Int based caster that in addition to basic melee and small arms gets to choose from Advanced weapons, Longarms or Sniper a neat option more classes should have. At 3rd level, weapon specialization affects all the weapons granted by the class.
Two abilities let you substitute a Paradox d20 for a bonus to AC or a damage die on an attack roll. The AC bonus is capped by level and the damage is capped by the damage die, but both make use of lower rolls. You can burn a Paradox for a small bonus to your spellcasting DC on one casting of one spell.
You can burn Resolve points at level 10 to get one Paradox.
The capstone ability you stop aging and can edit levels worth of character decisions per mnemonic editor except for class levels in Precog.
The various anchors allow you to get a free paradox once per day and allow some neat once a day abilities at higher levels, cast an extra spell, frustrate enemies reactions, remove conditions, stop dying, magnificent future time shelter with a servant that makes you things.
There is a preparedness temporal anomaly that lets you trade credits for a Light consumable item that would be useful now, that you just happened to buy at the last shop because you felt you might need it. Temporary skill training, extra weapon proficiencies, prevent losing a spell due to taking damage, reduce incoming damage, delay a condition, Allie’s gain an AC bonus vs opportunity attacks for d4 rounds.
Aid an ally’s social check by substituting your Paradox die for their roll. Know if an enemy is immune to an ally’s attack. Spend a Paradox to recover a spell that had no effect. Time Toughness, you just get extra Hit points and Stamina points equal to level. Burn a Paradox to act in a Surprise round. Put an enemy in a time loop that fatigues confuses or exhausts them. Weird little time teleport that doesn’t provoke, put a marker where you start your turn, go help an ally, then teleport back to the marker at the end of your turn. Replace a failed skill check with a Paradox die. Don’t provoke AoOs from movement for a round, spend an extra Paradox to give an ally the same ability. Improved time teleport ability that doesn’t provoke during the turn and doesn’t provoke IF you choose to teleport back to the starting marker.
When an ally misses, you give them stacking +1 bonuses up to +5 until they hit. Inserts Paradox die for a failed saving throw. Your advanced preparation item can be a permanent item, holy utility belt Batman, at higher levels it can be up to 2 bulk, where were you hiding that? Gain 2 Paradox when your anchor focus is invoked instead of one. Move 30ft between strikes, this movement doesn’t provoke. Use a Paradox instead of a failed attack roll. Use a paradox instead of an enemy’s attack, caster check or skill check, if they fail a Will save. Treat your BAB equal to your Precog level.
The book includes Archetypes and Class grafts for making Precog NPCs.
So how does Starfinder let you see the future without ruining the suspense of the unfolding story? The Precog’s sad devotion to time has not helped them conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given them clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels’ hidden fort. With the exception of using Paradox die to boost a Social skill check, the Precog’s abilities are pretty much tied to combat uses only.
Class Updates: all the other classes get 2 more pages of new class abilities. Biohackers can grant spell resistance or restore spell slots. Envoys can metamagic boost ally’s spells and dispel a spell with oh no you didn’t. Operatives get Spell Thief. Broken Cycle Solarians can choose to be unattuned or in Photon/Graviton only and don’t have imbalance issues anymore. Soldiers can drain spell slots and cast targeted dispel now? Soldiers have an Archer fighting style now and a new bow. Vanguard has a new all DPS no Tank option. Wytchwarpers get a magic whip that can deliver touch spells, do energy damage, and gets better over time. Mystics and Technomages can choose a specialty school with granted bonuses to spells from that school.
Chapter 2: Gear
Hybrid Items—Absolute Compass works like locate creature or discern location for creatures and is going to make bounty hunting really easy. Autopsic Scanner a little blood biography and a little speak with dead makes for murder investigations without a trip to the morgue. Earrings of Dampening, magical ear protection, I wonder what a purely tech-based version would look like. Everlatch Rope is an odd update of the animated rope, maybe the Smart Rope from Cloud Atlas?. Everlength Rope, weird flex, the rope regrows after it’s cut. Extra Seat is like a secret page for passenger seats in a vehicle. I wouldn’t want to be a PC in the hidden seat, more useful for smuggling and the like. Face Replicator if you have seen Mission Impossible or any other media with realistic-looking face mask disguises, you have seen this gadget. Fearmonger, mind-affecting sonic area denial gadget. Instant Vehicles are six figurines of wondrous power that turn into vehicles. Mask of scrambling makes you harder to detect by technology. Mind memory chip, copies memories from a subject that can be given to another or viewed on a computer. Null space kennel is a familiar pocket for Starfinder. Phaserods make perfect climbing pitons. Sweet Dreambot, stuffed animal records nightmares or grants Will save bonus against them.
Reviewer’s note: I am loving the mystery and espionage stories these gadgets will enable.
Magic Items—New Aeon stones, a thematic but underpowered level 7 weapon, other tchotchkes, Energy Transferrance Amulet lets you catch magic missiles and throw them back! Figurines of Wondrous Power (Squox, Velociraptor, Hashukayak, Laser Wolf), Gimmick is a spell focus that has different abilities the options takes up a page despite its understated name. Hood ornament that lets your ground vehicle hover, an Astrolabe that helps you navigate the uncharted stars, Omnicomponent is to spell components what other prepared wonder gadgets are to equipment. A marker that writes names on bullets to deadly effect. A cookpot version of Murlynd’s Spoon (Sustaining spoon) for making literal stone soup out of inorganics you find. Spectacles of the Unseen are more detective and intrigue goodness. Spell Putty is kind of silly, but neat. Trenchcoat of Utility is a Robe of Useful Items by any other name, but modern. The picture on page 53 of the items on some seller’s blanket in the marketplace should be used to sell the book. The new serums are interesting, the Marathon serum that negates forced march damage is long overdue.
Weapon Fusions—Agile fusion, lets you do Dex bonus damage with small arms and operative weapons. Bending fusion shoots around small and soft cover. Boosting fusion is like the Vampiric ring of regeneration my old 2nd Ed D&D Fighter used to have, if you can do 3x the item level in damage, this can give you item level damage back in stamina, once per short rest. I can’t imagine this replacing healing, but give me two of these fusions on a front-line DPS build and we’ll see what happens. Kindred fusion lets you minimize damage to three allied species. Meltdown fusion could be awesome, you disintegrate a chunk of your target releasing radioactive particles and affecting a radius of targets around them. Supercharge boosts a boosted weapon or grants boost to an unboosted weapon that uses charges.
Armor Upgrades—Arcane Vision is detect magic or arcane sight, Drift Escape Module is a personal get out of drift that jumps you to a nearby planet or spacelane. Gravity Pulse Unit can make nearby creatures flat-footed or prone. Shadow Skip and Shadow Sprint units allow short hops through dim light or long journeys through the shadow plane, they recharge over time instead of at the Spacebucks cafe. Stalwart armor upgrade gives you the old Dwarven Stability trait, +4 vs trips, bull rush, reposition.
Artifacts—Honorbringer, a high-level Vesk artifact is a six-bladed doshko that kills a lot of dudes, and it is tied to the honor of the emperor and health of the empire in an almost Arthur/Excalibur kind of way. The Torc is a thing, the Anvil is neat in its character scale and starship capabilities.
Chapter 3: Spells—Akashic Investigation another Starfinder CSI or CSI Absalom focus spell, somebody needs to write up how the GM will keep suspense if spells give away everything. Autopilot, a little vehicle love. Broadcast Message sends a repeating 25-word message to everyone up to 1,000ft away for a minute per level, great to evacuate people or advertise a great special in the freemarkets, Technomancers also target technology in the same area. Bypass Password makes a caster level check with a +10 vs the password DC. Channel the outer sphere is a kind of plane-based chain lightning. Cheat Time because bullet time was already taken perform 6 actions from a list, but any offensive spell or attack ends the spell. I could move, unlock a door, cure wounds, move, cure wounds, trip a guard but not attack them or attack the guard with a stun weapon as my final covered action. Chrono Leap am I throwing an enemy into other enemies, or my melee character into enemies? Climate Adaptation can take the teeth out of wilderness travel, but so can 1 charge from normal armor. Command Icon, is it too video-gamey that armies can have rally flags on a commander? Whatever happened to don’t salute the captain it makes him a target? I guess you could paint the vanguard and other tank-like builds that benefit from being targeted. Dampen Spell is a neat take on Dispel and Counterspell. Death’s Door is an interesting debuff, but I want to see one target other casters and not martials. Duplicate Data makes a copy of a device limited by the spell duration but doesn’t decrypt it or bypass security for you, but you might have time to get away and work on the copy you wouldn’t if you stole an original. Empathic Support grants advantage or disadvantage instead of a +/-2 modifier. Forcecage is an old but a goodie, and isn’t some of the promise of Starfinder that the old spells are out there somewhere? Furious shriek, does d6s of sonic damage, but if you are at less than half your HP, you roll d8s of damage. Glowing Wall is a nice light cantrip if you’re party isn’t littered with alternate vision or light sources. Gravity Tether does what you think it does, but only after doing 5d8 electricity damage. Grim Insight, you plant the image of a dark future in the target’s mind and they take 6d10, I think my Mind Thrust was always annoying commercial jingles. Helping Hands, the target grows two more hands that can be used to manipulate items as an extra move, but not make extra attacks. Holographic Interface, exactly what it says on the tin, this cantrip makes a Hollywood style interface you can use despite not knowing the native interface or the device not having an interface. Ice Prison, doesn’t say much about the ice prison you are in regardless if you don’t save you take damage and are paralyzed, if you do save you take half damage and aren’t paralyzed. You are still in an ice cage unless you have spell resistance. Injury Echo, remember that time you fell and hurt yourself, this cantrip brings back those awful memories and the hurt too. Locate Hive, or in the immortal words of Captain Kirk, remember where we parked. Magic Mark, because Arcane Mark was already taken. Magic Seal, stops a creature from using magic that doesn’t target personal. Measure, says it gives you very precise measurements that the GM does not have, but really it calls out when things are off and the GM should know that. So I imagine a GM saying a scan of a half-orc coming up as it’s a typical half-orc, but something is off, then round two you get measurements for a smaller creature that was hiding in a hologram or illusion.
Chapter 4: Faiths— Check and see if your favorite old Golarion god changed alignments, got a glow up, maybe is an old god masquerading as a new one? Also some non Golarion powers are in here.
Chapter 5: The Magical Galaxy—
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