Okay guys, I’ve been pretty much obsessed with doing this build since Jacob Blackmon drew the title image for Everyman Gaming LLC, my company. (Context: This picture is going in my company’s next “big book” for the Starfinder RPG, the Advanced Skill Guide.) One obsession lead to another, and now I’m designing a build based around that adorable skittermander professional wrestler in the picture. Because I can dream of a skittermander race boon, can’t I?!
Anyway, on with the build!
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Species: Skittermander
- Ability Scores: Str 18, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 13
- Classes: soldier 12
- Theme: Themeless or Space Pirate
- Feats: Improved Combat Maneuver: grapple (1st), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus; 2nd), Improved Feint (3rd), Coordinated Shot (Bonus; 4th), Fast Talk (5th), Greater Feint (Bonus; 6th), Skill Focus: Bluff (7th), Lunge (Bonus; 8th), Weapon Focus: uncategorized (9th), Close Combat (Bonus; 10th), Unfriendly Fire (11th), Multi-Weapon Fighting (12th)
- Gear Boost: Armored Advantage (3rd), Melee Striker (7th), Bullet Barrage (11th)
- Abilities: primary fighting style (blitz), secondary fighting style (guard)
The essential idea of this build is, “I’m going to grapple that guy.” Now, if you’re going to grapple successfully in Starfinder, there are a couple of things you have to make sure happen:
- You need to make sure you can cross the gap to get to the thing you want to grapple.
- You need to be good enough at unarmed attack rolls to actually hit the high result you need (KAC + 8).
- You need to have a KAC that’s good enough that your enemy can’t just wriggle right out of your grapple right away.
So let’s talk about how this build accomplishes those tasks.
- Speed: Since we need to close the distance between us and our target, this build goes with the blitz fighting style as its primary fighting style. That extra 10 foot movement speed at 1st level is very helpful, and at 5th level the ability to charge across the battlefield without penalty is also helpful for closing the distance; it basically lets you move twice your speed and still get a hit in. Since this build doesn’t have room for Fleet, you’re going to want to take that augmentation that replaces your leg tendons with super circuits for more speed.
- To-Hit: Skittermanders are adorable, but the real reason we’re taking this race is for the delicious +2 bonus to grapple attempts that they receive. Between full BAB, a high Strength, Improved Combat Maneuver (grapple), and the grappler racial trait we’re looking at a grapple bonus of +11 at 1st level. This means that at 1st level you can grapple a CR 1 enemy with a 10 or higher, for a 50% chance. (A CR 1 creature has a KAC of 13, and the DC is KAC + 8. 13 + 8 is 21, and you’d need a 10 to hit 21 with a +11 bonus.) Eventually we get this down to a 9 for targeting CR = level opponents when Weapon Focus comes online, and the reason this build grabs Improved Feint and Greater Feint is so we effectively get another +2 to our roll because our opponent is taking a –2 from being flat-footed. As a soldier, this is about as reliable as you can be with the grapple combat maneuver without buffs from your party members.
- KAC: In order to make sure our enemies can’t easily escape our grapple, I’ve gone and taken everything the soldier can to buff their KAC. We’ve got the +1 from the armored advantage gearboost, and picking up the guard combat style means that we can squeeze an extra AC out of our heavy armor by increasing our maximum Dexterity. Since skittermander is a decent Dex race, this is likely a good idea as you gain more ability increases and eventually get to the mk II personal upgrades. It’s worth noting that if you play a vesk, you could have a better KAC because of their racial +1 KAC, but that would mean losing the Skittermander’s +2 to grapple attempts from grappler, and to be honest that’s WAY more valuable in the long run. Just getting someone grappled restricts their ability to act, and if they spend the action to try and escape, you’ve basically forced them to waste an action.
Grappling isn’t this build’s only tricks, however. Lots of resources went into improve Bluff so feints would be more likely to happen, and that decent Bluff bonus means that feats like Fast Talk and Unfriendly Fire are an option. Fast Talk basically lets you force a surprise round onto an opponent, while Unfriendly Fire allows you to redirect a shot onto your opponent. Lunge also has good combo potential with our skittermander. Since grappling isn’t always the best tactic, this build also has some neat options for unarmed striking enemies in Improved Unarmed Strike and Multi-Weapon Fighting. Coordinated Assault and Greater Feint allow you to provide some great party utility, and Lunge allows you to be a bit more flexible in your positioning.
Overall, I’d say this is a pretty great skittermander supplexer. It’s definitely not as easy to be a grappler in Starfinder as it is in Pathfinder; by my estimations, to pin someone whose CR = your level at 12th level, assuming everything you had was maxed out, you would need to roll a 40 (KAC 27 + 13). Assuming full BAB (+12), the highest possible Str modifier (+7, assuming Str 20 and a mk II ability crystal), Improved Maneuver (+4), and grappler (+2), you would have a bonus of +25, meaning you would need to roll a 15 to pin your opponent. Difficult, but not impossible. (In contrast, you would need a 17 with a non-skittermander.)
But what do you think? Leave your thoughts and comments below and tell me what you would do differently. Next time I’ll be hopping back over to the Designer’s Water Cooler to talk briefly about designing purposeful game mechanics, so stay tuned! But until then, I’m Alexander Augunas, the Everyman Gamer, and I’m always here to offer you a little bit of Guidance!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.