It’s the future, baby! One of the cool things about reading through the Dead Suns AP was checking out the loot. I won’t spoil any of that for anyone playing it but there are some fantastic items found in the adventure book that aren’t found anywhere else. There are also a number of mundane, quality of life items but even the ones exclusive to the AP seem to have a flair and creativity to them that the ones presented in the Core Rulebook seem to miss.
Reading through the AP did prompt me to take a look at the rules for Weapon Fusions, Armour Upgrades and Body Augmentations, rules I’d previously assumed were quite niche and wouldn’t come up too often. Though thinking about it, this stuff is the staple of most Sci-Fi genres and is especially prevelant in Cyberpunk, why I didn’t think these things would be relevant I can only blame my Fantasy RPG mind for. Of course this stuff is relevant, and it’s awesome!
So, let’s take your standard medieval fantasy RPG. You’re level one in a world of Orcs that want you dead. You’ve set out on your adventure with your father’s trusty sword, the sword that’s been in your family for generations and was gifted to you by your father on his death-bed. By the time you’ve hit level 5, maybe even level 3 your father’s sword has been already sold on to some travelling merchant for a few coppers and has been melted down to make a bedpan for an overweight lord in a castle.
Thanks for the sword, dad. I’ll look after it always.
Well what were you supposed to do? That +1 Shortsword of Orc Slaying was a much better upgrade!
But what if I didn’t have to be like that? What if you could have taken that +1 Orc Slaying property from the new sword and apply it to your father’s blade? What if there was a whole bunch of these… I don’t know, let’s call them fusions… That you could swap and change as you saw fit giving your weapon new properties and upgrades as you needed them? That’d be pretty cool, right? Hey, have you heard of Starfinder?
Heres what the Core Rulebook says about Weapon Fusions:
A weapon fusion is a small, prepackaged add-on that can be attached to any weapon to infuse it with magic. Adventurers use weapon fusions to customize their weapons for a specific enemy or to increase a weapon’s overall effectiveness.
How cool is that? It then goes on to describe how and what skills are needed to install weapon fusions to weapons and also talks about something called Fusion Seals. Fusion Seals are a way for you to take your Fusion and apply it to a small trinket or medallion that can then be easily transferred between weapons. There’s a cost involved in creating one of these but it saves having to visit a specialist to transfer the fusion for you later on. You can do it yourself! So if you’re neck deep in the deepest darkest jungles of Castrovel, miles away from the nearest settlement and even further from someone who knows their way around a weapon and you need to transferred your Fusion to a new weapon a seal will allow you to do it yourself. Simple.
A thundering fusion seal might cause a weapon to be etched with storm clouds, runes of weather, or possibly even symbols of a god of storms if affixed by a worshiper of such a god. However, these alterations of appearance are not enough to conceal a weapon’s basic function or type (a heavy reaction cannon with a vorpal fusion seal is still clearly a heavy reaction cannon, even if its appearance is altered to feature skulls and symbols of the Devourer). Fusion seals that alter weapons to feature a specific group’s iconography are often used by organisations as a way of unifying the appearance of their members’ weaponry.
But what sorts of fusions are there? Well what about an Anchoring Fusion that when applied to a weapon will immobilise the target when you score a crit? Or a Corrosive Fusion that allows you to shoot acid? Or what about something like the Returning Fusion that allows thrown weapons to return to you – though it might not be wise to apply that to a grenade!
And it doesn’t stop there, because the same process can be applied to armour by way of armour upgrades that allow you to personalise the armour you wear with cool new functionality. Each piece of armour in the game has a listed number of upgrade slots so some of them can have more than one upgrade at a time. Things like an Electrostatic Shield that keeps you safe from electricity damage while dealing it out to anyone stupid enough to get in melee range of you. What about a Jetpack so you relive those childhood Boba Fett fantasies or a Targeting Computer that allows you to see through smoke and darkness.
All of these options to make your gear remain constant with your character’s level is a real breath of fresh air. I know Starfinder probably isn’t the first game to do it but it’s the first game I’ve played that does it and the variety in the customisation has me excited to see how people play with it.
And finally the Augmentations, the cybernetic implants, the real nitty-gritty, sci-fi stuff. Replace an arm for one that’s mechanical and suddenly be able to lift five times your body weight. Dermal Plating to basically make you Wolverine, or something mental like the Polyhand. Seriously, check this out:
You replace your entire hand with a hand made of reprogrammable microscopic adamantine prisms. With either a mental command or a programmable interface built into the hand, you can reconfigure your hand into the shape of various tools. The hand can contain programming for nine different tools, in addition to a configuration for a normal hand for your species.
Never worry about losing your keys or (more importantly) the bottle opener ever again!
This is the kind of stuff that can constantly be added to. Constantly expanded upon and upgraded, I was surprised how many of these items found their way into the adventure path but it also makes the upcoming Armoury book very exciting. This is the sort of thing that sets sci-fi and fantasy worlds apart, having this system in the game makes the universe feel more like its own thing and not just a fantasy game with a space skin slapped on top of it. I’m really looking forward to seeing this stuff in action in our Dead Suns campaign.