Starfarer’s Codex: Multiclass ThemeTypes (SFRPG)
This Starfarer’s Codex-installment clocks in at 17 pages, one page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 13 pages of content – though there is something to note here: When you open this pdf, you’ll notice that there isn’t much text per page – some textboxes are hovering before impressive full-color artworks (drawn by GrandFailure – who is anything but that, and some stock pieces), but the primary focus here is on the artworks, with text boxes dropped in where they make sense. Now, usually I’d complain seriously about that, but the smart folks at Rogue Genius Games have a condensed, artless version as well. This second iteration clocks in at 9 pages, offering densely-presented 6 pages of content, with flavortext highlighted in purple boxes, making that version easy and efficient, if less aesthetically-pleasing to use. In short: We get a beautiful pdf, and an efficient one, we get to have our cake and eat it, too. Nice.
So, multiclassing. This pdf does offer so-called ThemeTypes: These ThemeTypes count as your character’s theme, and also as the archetype for the first class you take levels in. These ThemeTypes also prevent a character from later taking levels in the class corresponding to the ThemeType in question. Abilities gained by these sometimes denote “Archetype” in the brackets; these are gained when you reach the listed level in the class that you took levels in, while those marked as “Theme” are gained regardless of the levels or combinations thereof. Simple and elegant.
All right, so the envoy ThemeType gains Bluff or Diplomacy as class skill, or +1 if you already have both in one of them, and may use the Bluff skill bonus as Diplomacy and vice versa. So, first level ability is basically a theme-knowledge style offering. At 2nd level, the archetype ability would be Expertise for one skill chosen from a list, using a d4 as expertise die, which may be treated as a static +1 bonus if you already have an insight bonus of +4 or better to the applicable skills. This list is expanded by the Theme ability at 6th level. The archetype ability at 4th level nets you a first level envoy improvisation, and you gain another 6th level. 9th level yields an expertise talent, and the 12th and 18th level ability, designated as “Theme”, yield a 1st or 4th level improvisation, with the 18th level ability alternatively allowing for the selection of a 6th level improvisation. Also at 12th level, there is an archetype ability that increases the expertise die to 1d4+1, and 18th level yield one archetype option for 1d6+1, as well as a third skill for the expertise die. The second one, fyi, is gained via a theme ability at 6th level.
So that is the basic design paradigm – you get abilities, some of which are tied to class, and some to character progression, and to gain the most out of a given Theme Type, you will want to stick with the ThemeType’d class. Powerlevel-wise, the collective of theme-designated abilities amount to approximately the potency of a theme. Mechanics get two ThemeTypes – one for drones and one for the exocortex. Drone specialists get theme knowledge, a basic drone at 2nd level, which is class level -1, maximum 3rd. This is tweaked at 4th, 6th and 9th level; slightly odd: Both improvements (Archetype and Theme) are identical and worse than the 9th level improvement; I assume that these account for multiclassing and optional choice, but it seems odd; the 18th level ability being worse than previous ones makes me think that some of these may have been intended to be cumulative. Or, well, there’s a chance that this tries to account for the fact that not all levels of replacement abilities are equal. Beyond that, we have one 8th level or lower mechanic trick to modify drones, and the repair drone trick at 6th level. All in all, I probably wouldn’t take this one.
The exocortex option is a bit more straightforward, netting you longarm or heavy armor proficiency (or Weapon Focus, if you already have them), basic versions of combat tracking and a 1/day reroll of a skill check to recall knowledge while not in combat. This one does a good job at presenting a lite version of the excocortex. The Mystic ThemeType nets you up to 4 0-level spells (at will), 3 1st level spells (3 slots), 3 2nd level spells (2 slots), 2 3rd level spells (2 slots, has a cut-copy-paste typo) and 1 4th level spell known (1 slot) over the course of its progression. It also nets you healing touch or mind link via the 6th level theme ability and connection at 12th level, but only to the 1st level connection power, with the 3rd level connection power unlocked at 18th level via a Theme-ability.
The operative’s ThemeType’s trick attack doesn’t cause additional damage, but does render the target flat-footed against the attack, though 6th level yields you a +1d8 for every 3 character levels there. Otherwise, we have exploits and edges. Solid. The Solarian ThemeType nets stellar mode, and at 4th level, black hole or supernova; 6th level nets solar manifestation of a 1st level solarian, which improves to that of 6th level solarian with a class level = character level -6. The verbiage is slightly confusing, but correct. 18th level improved solar manifestation further, and beyond that, we have a few solarian revelations available over the course of the ThemeType.
The soldier ThemeType nets you a proficiency from the get-go, Weapon Focus at 2nd level, Toughness at 4th, and the 1st level fighting style ability at 6th level., with the 5th and 9th level abilities clocking in at 12th and 18th level via the theme abilities of the ThemeType. Beyond that, we have bonus feats, a gear boost and a bonus to BAB if your BAB is less than class level, or to BAB made with full attacks when it’s equal to class level.
The technomancer ThemeType, finally, nets you up to 4 0-level spells (at will), 3 1st level spells (3 slots), 3 2nd level spells (2 slots), 2 3rd level spells (2 slots) and 1 4th level spell known (1 slot) over the course of its progression, as well as up to 3 magic hacks, which first must be chosen from the 2nd level ones (6th level theme ability), then from 2nd or 5th level hacks (12th level theme ability), or also from 8th level hacks (18th level theme ability).
Editing and formatting are good on a formal level and slightly above that on a rules-language level. Layout is very distinct as noted in the beginning – it is gorgeous or functional, depending on the iteration you consult. Big kudos for providing the printer-friendly version! The pdfs both only have a single bookmark, which makes navigation slightly less comfortable than it should be.
So, ThemeTypes. What can I say, I really enjoy the concept, and this is an incredibly dense book to absorb. The rules-language is complex and executed with the panache that we expect from Owen K.C. Stephens. That being said, I am pretty sure that something, somewhere in the drone mechanic ThemeType has gone awry; it also looks like it genuinely should be a bit…I don’t know…better? Considering what you give up, the benefits there don’t really make up for it. I also wasn’t particularly smitten by the solarian. While arguably one of the harder classes to ThemeType, I don’t think the option presented scratches the amateur solarian angle it tried to scratch. That being said, as a whole, I consider this to be worthwhile checking out, and the concept of ThemeTypes is certainly one that warrants further exploration. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
You can get these themetypes here on OBS!