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Starfinder – Road Warriors

Here’s a scene I’ve always wanted to do in Starfinder – The players are making their getaway from raiding the gang hideout, getting away with the money and whatever maguffin the plot currently centers on. They hop on their hover bikes and take off, gang members hot on their heels. Only, it’s a biker gang, and they get on their own bikes and it’s time to roll initiative. Time for the cinematic motorcycle fight!

It’s been done many times in movies, anime, and games, but how often do you see it at the table? Part of that is because the vehicle combat rules don’t come into play often, but Starfinder has done a lot to simplify how it works. All the normal stuff (initiative, character abilities, etc) stay the same, but now everyone is having to spend at least a move action to pilot their vehicle. They can still use a standard to make attacks, cast spells, or other class abilities, but unless the Operative has the Driver specialization, no Trick Attacks while driving. The Race, Ram, and Run Over actions are the only full round vehicle combat actions. The vehicles themselves can be targets as well, but at least at low levels are too tough to make that very effective. What complicates matters is the shear speed of everything. Most vehicles move fast enough to clear a standard battle map pretty quickly, so some part of the battle has to be abstracted. The combatants in the lead might have to deal with traffic, obstacles, or inclement conditions, allowing pursuers to catch up to within shooting or even melee range. It’s also easy for the party to get separated, since two vehicles not moving in the same direction can put a lot of distance between themselves in 6 seconds, not to mention one stationary person and a vehicle, so prepare for the battle to sprawl out and possible occur in small vignettes (unless the players are all in one vehicle and the antagonist each have their own, Mad Max style).

Things to watch out for – does the vehicle provide cover? Motorcyles and their variants don’t, but many other vehicles do which makes the pilot very hard to hit. What about damage for bailing, crashing, or in case of an arial battle, falling? For a bail on an open air vehicle like a motorcycle I would use the level appropriate Hazard Attack damage (CRB page 285) and have the pilot prone and separate from their vehicle by at least 10 ft. For a crash, both pilot and vehicle take double the collision damage of the vehicle (and so does whatever they hit). For falling see CRB page 400 and remember that falling things speed up very quickly in a normal gravity environment, falling 500 ft a round until they encounter a solid surface.

For a vehicle centered campaign, consider adding this feat –

ROAD WARRIOR

Prerequisites: must have 3 ranks in Pilot

You can make the drive action in large or smaller vehicles with a passenger rating or 1 or 2 as a swift action instead of a move action, and you reduce the penalty to attack while driving the vehicle by 2, but cannot reduce it beyond zero.


It’s easy for a vehicle combat to get deadly pretty fast, but for an epic and iconic scene that your players are going to remember a long time, it’s hard to beat. I mean, check out this blast from the past:

As always, if you like this or any of the other content here on Solo Run Studio I would welcome a little of your support through Ko-fi. Until next time Starfinders!

Categories: Article Writing

Jeremy Corff

Artist and Writer