Iconic Design (SF) — The New and Improved Xvi

Hello everyone, and welcome to Iconic Design! Getting playtests is fun and all, but do you know what’s ALSO a ton of fun? Actually getting finished products! And nowhere is this more apparent than with COM, short for Character Operations Manual of Starfinder fame. We recently did a book breakdown on this fantastic product on Know Direction: Beyond, and I mentioned on-air that my character in Know Direction’s own Stellar Actual Play Podcast, Xvi, would be taking a number of options in this book. Which options? Well, that’s what I’m here today to tell you!

Character Build

  • Race Skittermander
  • Theme Ace Pilot
  • Class Biohacker (Medic) 6
    • Class Features biohacks, custom microlab, injection expert +1, scientific method (instinctive), spark of ingenuity 1/day
    • Archetype Features doctor (2nd)
    • Fields of Study biomedicine (1st)
    • Theorems treat condition (4th), treatment mastery (6th)
  • Feats Weapon Focus: small arms (1st); Weapon Specialization (Bonus; 3rd), Fusillade (3rd); Medical Expert (5th)

Playing the Build

Post-release Xvi looks very similar to playtest Xvi, but with a few added benefits. For one, Xvi now has an unlimited number of minor biohacks, his custom microlab (the replacement for the old bioscanner ability) allows him to lock on to his allies to effortlessly administer aid to them, and the medic archetype allows his healing from serums he administers and his biomedicine field of study’s special ability to “overheal” into Stamina Points, which is going to make him extremely efficient at healing the party. Treat condition is still a powerful theorem, and I get to take it sooner because I don’t have to bog myself down taking quality-of-life theorums like quick load or friendly aim (seriously, those were the worst).

Some fun extra abilities that this build has now: if I use Fusillade to deliver a volley of healing serums to allies, as written the custom microlab should allow me to do so without needing to make any ranged attack rolls against allies that I’ve scanned with my microlab. SUPER useful and fun! Medical Expert also synergizes well with the custom microlab, but it’s not something that’s going to matter over the course of our Stellar adventure. Medical Expert notes that you can use the feat to treat deadly wounds as a standard action. Under normal circumstances, you can only treat deadly wounds on a target once per day unless you’re in a medical lab. And at 9th level, your custom microlab counts as being in a medical lab…. So yeah, two standard action treat deadly wounds per day! Nifty, right? Of course, this might just depend on how kind your GM is. The way that treat deadly wounds is worded, it says that most medical labs allow you to treat deadly wounds AT LEAST twice per day. So maybe they’ll let you do more? Never hurts to ask, right?

Expanding the Build

Obviously Against the Aeon Throne only goes up to 6th level, so Xvi’s build doesn’t need to go beyond 6th level. But if you’re at home and you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey Alex, what if I want to use this myself?!”, then you might be pleased because I’m not going to leave you hanging!

  • Race Skittermander
  • Theme Ace Pilot
  • Class Biohacker (Medic) 12
    • Class Features biohacks, custom microlab, injection expert +2, scientific method (instinctive), spark of ingenuity 1/day
    • Archetype Features doctor (2nd), medical specialist (9th)
    • Fields of Study biomedicine (1st), pharmacology (2nd)
    • Theorems treat condition (4th), treatment mastery (6th), improved treat condition (8th), speedy serums (10th), arms expert (12th)
  • Feats Weapon Focus: small arms (1st); Weapon Specialization (Bonus; 3rd), Fusillade (3rd); Medical Expert (5th), Multiweapon Fighting (7th), Quick Draw (9th), Tailored Serums (11th)

Beyond 6th level, I’m looking to add improved treat condition to my repertoire because WOW having the power to say “no” to nauseated is super good. Additionally, I imagine I’m going to want to be able to craft serums fast given how many I’m going to be firing out of my gun with Fusillade, so speedy serums seems like a smart bet (although it might be pointless in Starfinder Society if you’re going that route). Finally arms expert is really good for bonus damage. Supplementing my feat choices are Multiweapon Fighting, which should make it easier to shoot my small arms at enemies, Quick Draw, which allows me to quickly swap weapons around, and Tailored Serums, a really nifty feat that allows Xvi to grant bonus healing to serums that he tinkers with. This bonus healing only applies when he specifically designates one of his allies for use with the serum, but that’s hardly a downside. The real downside? Even though the feat doesn’t list an Intelligence score as a prerequisite, it’s uses per day are based on your Intelligence modifier. As a skittermander with an Intelligence penalty, Xvi literally won’t have the Intelligence to use this feat until 11th level, but if you’re NOT going to be a skittermander, pick it up sooner!

There are a couple of other feats I could have taken, but chose not to. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • Double Tap: This feat lets you spend extra ammo to add your full Weapon Specialization bonus to a small arms attack. This is fine, but arms expert does this for the weapons I want to wield, both melee and ranged. Since there’s such a small number of theorums currently, I didn’t feel Double Tap was worth it.
  • Quick Trickler: This lets you administer a serum as a standard action instead of a full action. It’s okay, but if I do my job right my guns will be pre-loaded, which means that feat is sort of … not better than just shooting someone.

In Conclusion

I think Xvi generally benefited a lot from the COM playtest. There were a few things that disappointed me; Field Dressing just isn’t reliable enough for it’s healing to be worth it, and it’s laughably outpaced by the envoy’s Hit Point / Stamina boosting option. There’s also not enough theorums or fields of study to pick from in this book; it’s about as bare-bones as you can get. That’s a problem with Starfinder’s extremely slow release schedule and general lack of content. (Unless we see biohacker content as AP backmatter or in Nearspace, we’re not going to see anyplace where new biohacker options would make sense until after GenCon 2020, since Starship Operations Manual was just announced.) I hope that we see some awesome biohacker content in the future, as well as plenty of expansions!

That’s all I got for today; have an awesome day and (if you live in the US) a very Happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!


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.

Featured Image by Liz Courts.

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.