Iconic Design —Do What You Want, ‘Cause a (Space) Pirate is Free!

Welcome to Iconic Design! Paizo’s third hardcover for Starfinder, Starfinder RPG: Pact Worlds, has a surprising amount of cool new content for players hidden in its pages, and one of the most significant places that this lies in is its themes. There are tons of awesome new themes within Starfinder’s pages that personally makes me question what the intended role of themes are, but few are as awesome or as potentially powerful as the space pirate theme, which is associated with the Diaspora. Well, why wait? Let’s take a look-see!

Build Concept

Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.

  • Species: Any (avoid races with Dex or Str penalties)
  • Ability Scores: Str 11, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
  • Classes: operative 14
  • Theme: Space Pirate
  • Feats: Weapon Focus (1st); Versatile Focus (3rd), Opening Volley (4th; Combat Trick), Quick Draw (5th), Multi-Weapon Fighting (7th), Step Up (9th), Step Up and Strike (11th), Coordinated Shot (13th)
  • Operative Exploits: uncanny mobility (2nd), combat trick (4th), versatile movement (5th; Specialization Exploit), uncanny shooter (6th), bleeding shot (8th), staggering shot (10th), stunning shot (12th), multiattack mastery (14th)
  • Abilities: debilitating trick, operative’s edge +4, evasion, quad attack, quick movement +20 ft., specialization (daredevil), specialization power, specialization skill mastery, trick attack 6d8, triple attack, uncanny agility


So, I don’t usually do 14th-level builds for Starfinder because its beyond the range of Dead Suns, but hey! First time for everything, right? I mostly went this high-level because I wanted the Space Pirate’s sweet sword and pistol ability, but also because this build (sword and pistol) doesn’t really come online until the build has the multiattack mastery operative exploit. This AMAZING ability allows you to automatically inflict a debilitating trick on a foe if you use triple attack or quad attack, make all attacks against one opponent, and manage to hit them at least twice. It basically allows you to have the utility of trick attack while still getting to make all of your attacks.

This begs the question—is using full attacks as an operative good? Well … maybe? Basically, triple attack and quad attack never increase the penalty you take for making a full attack the way that soldier’s onslaught and solarian’s onslaught do, and quad attack does effectively allow you to make four attacks at a –4 penalty. But when you’re using quad attack, your opponent probably isn’t flat-footed because a quad attack isn’t a trick attack. This means that compared to a trick attack, you’re taking a –4 penalty from the full attack AND your opponent isn’t flat-footed, so its AC is 2 higher. This is basically a six point swing in the monster’s favor, which is (in fairness) comparable to a soldier or a solarian using their onslaught ability. In effect, the operative will (mathematically speaking) be very likely to deal similar damage to the operative and soldier ON AVERAGE with a full attack using quad attack, or a single attack using trick attack. So I guess the real question is, “Do you want to take that chance?”

Well, our pirate build has some cards stacked in their favor. Opening Volley is a very impressive 2 point swing for the operative’s next melee attack after making a ranged attack, so theoretically on round 2 you could use trick attack to get in close to an opponent, fire with your ranged weapon to trigger Opening Volley, then full attack on your next round for that sweet, sweet bonus. Multi-Weapon Fighting is also a GREAT boost for this operative build (unlike my armored solarian build), as it reduces the penalty for all these attacks by 1 as long as you’re using two or more different weapons. (Easy!) Combined with bleeding shot as your debilitating trick, and you’re effectively taking a bigger risk then you would with a trick attack for a much higher reward (four weapon hits plus four times your static bonuses is NICE).

This build also has some nice utility. The space pirate theme lets you make two attacks as part of a standard action, and uncanny shooter lets you wade into battle pistol drawn without fear. Because guarded steps take an action in SF, you’re very susceptible to enemies just moving away from you, so Step Up is a must-have. I ended up picking daredevil for this build because nothing else felt “piratey” in terms of operative specializations, but even with that as the case the build’s versatile movement and ability to auto-trick attack enemies who are balancing, climbing, flying, or swimming is EXTREMELY good. Since you’re going into melee, Coordinated Shot is a useful feat but it might not be necessary. Hopefully you have a sturdy soldier or solarian in your party if you’re playing this build, because you CANNOT take hits well. If you’re the only one in the party brave enough to get into melee, your allies will love you for having Coordinated Shot. If you’re not the only one and your friend has the feat, I’m not entirely sure if it stacks. Owen?! OWEN?!

Overall, I think that this looks like a very different kind of operative build, and that’s exciting. Most operatives are one-trick-attack ponies, and this build tries to do something different. It tries to juggle a bunch of different types of weapons to unload for massive damage, and what could be more pirate then that? Next week I’m going to a Guidance blog focusing on a great kid’s cartoon that has a lot to teach us about presenting a good mystery. But until then, take care!

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 Alexs Twitter, @AlJAug.

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at http://www.everybodygames.net, or support him personally on Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/eversagarpg.