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Starfinder – Invisibility

Predator from Prey coming out of Cloak

Let’s talk about Invisibility. A classic fantasy and scifi trope, Invisibility is one of those things that is inevitably going to come up at your game table. When it does, whether as a player or GM, you are going to quickly discover that while the effect works in all the ways you may be familiar with from PF1E, unlike either of the Pathfinder systems, there simply are not many ways to counter the effect in Starfinder. There is the level 2 spell See Invisibility, which allows at least the caster to point out an invisible foe, the Invisibility Detector armor upgrade (a level 10 item!), the Drift Glass Goggles (level 8 tech item), and most recently in Ports of Call we have the new Albitta’s Paint Sprayer that can partially reveal an invisible creature. Otherwise you are left hoping some member of the party has scent or a blindsense that can at least give someone an indication where the enemy might be, which isn’t a terrible plan given the diverse cast of aliens in Starfinder and broad range of sensory augmentations, but still pretty hit or miss. This means an invisible caster can become a very serious problem for a party, and anything with greater invisibility can turn an encounter into a party wipe.

Invisible man from the 2020 movie, partially revealed.

Starfinder is a Sci-Fantasy setting, and I would argue that the existence of magic, a whole laundry list of creatures with invisibility or invisibility like abilities, and the internet-equivalent infosphere, means that most people in setting should be familiar with at least basic methods to counteract the effect. Albitta’s Paint Sprayer allows a DC 15 reflex save for an invisible creature in the 15ft cone effect to be partially revealed (square revealed, only a 20% miss chance instead of 50%), and in my Starfinder games I’d allow area effect grenades like stickybombs, foam grenades, dye grenades, and area spells like Acidic Mist to have similar chances. What’s more, anyone trained in Engineering (DC 16), Physical Science (DC 12), or Survival (DC 14) that has access to sufficient tools (such as an appropriate tool kit) can use a full round action to cobble together an impromptu invisibility counter that effects an adjacent 10x10ft area, where the Reflex DC increases by how much the skill check exceeded the DC needed to craft it (so if you used Engineering and got a 24, the Reflex DC for the invisible creature would be 23). That offers a broad swath of characters a way to influence a fight where they might otherwise feel like they can’t contribute, ameliorates but doesn’t eliminate the benefits of invisibility, and let’s people have a Bill Nye the Science Guy hero moment in game. Everyone wins!

Bill Nye the Science Guy

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Categories: Article Writing

Jeremy Corff

Artist and Writer