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Chapter 8: Tactical Rules / Special Abilities

Extraordinary, Spell-Like, and Supernatural Abilities

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 262
Many abilities available to characters or monsters are classified as extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural. Depending on which category they fall into, these abilities function as described below.

Extraordinary Abilities (Ex)

Extraordinary abilities are nonmagical. They cannot be disrupted in combat as spells can, they are not subject to dispelling, and they function normally in areas where magic is suppressed or negated. Despite not qualifying as magical, some extraordinary abilities may break the laws of physics.

The text of an extraordinary ability indicates what type of action is required to use it, as well as how often the creature can use it. If an extraordinary ability doesn’t specify what type of action is required to activate it, it requires a standard action.

The DC of an extraordinary ability is typically equal to 10 + half the level of the creature using it + the creature’s relevant ability score modifier, as detailed in the ability’s description.

Extraordinary abilities are often denoted with the abbreviation “Ex” in parentheses next to the ability’s name.

Spell-Like Abilities (Sp)

Spell-like abilities are magical abilities that function very much like spells do (see Casting Spells starting on page 330). The main difference is that you gained the ability through a different means than normal spellcasters gain spells. A spell-like ability has a casting time of a standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. Usually, a spell-like ability either can be used a specific number of times per day, can be used at will, or can affect a creature constantly. If a spell requires an expenditure of credits or Resolve Points as part of its casting, a creature that can cast the spell as a spell-like ability does not need to pay such costs. Creatures with spell-like abilities that can be made permanent still must pay any costs and take the listed amount of time to do so. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell.

Because it functions like a spell, using a spell-like ability in a threatened square usually provokes attacks of opportunity (see page 248) unless the text of the ability or the spell it emulates specifically says otherwise.

Spell-like abilities are subject to spell resistance and dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated.

Just as for spells, a spell-like ability’s caster level determines the ability’s power (see Caster Level on page 331). If no caster level is specified in the ability’s description, the caster level is equal to the creature’s character level or CR. The DC of a spell-like ability is typically equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the Charisma modifier of the creature using it. If a class grants a spell-like ability that is not based on an actual spell, the ability’s effective spell level is equal to the highest-level class spell the character could cast at the class level the ability is granted.

Spell-like abilities are often denoted with the abbreviation “Sp” in parentheses next to the ability’s name.

Supernatural Abilities (Su)

Supernatural abilities are magical but differ from spells in key ways. Unlike spells, which can be interrupted while being cast, supernatural abilities can’t be disrupted in combat. They aren’t subject to spell resistance or dispel magic, but they don’t function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated.

The text of a supernatural ability indicates what type of action is required to use it, as well as how often it can be used. If a supernatural ability doesn’t specify what type of action is required to activate it, it requires a standard action.

The DC of a supernatural ability is typically equal to 10 + half the level of the creature using it + the creature’s relevant ability score modifier, as detailed in the ability’s description.

Supernatural abilities are often denoted with the abbreviation “Su” in parentheses next to the ability’s name.