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GM Tools

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 184
Even with the myriad tools and tricks provided in the Starfinder Core Rulebook and other resources (such as the Starfinder Galaxy Exploration Manual), running a game of Starfinder can be a challenge! This section provides some tools and alternatives for your games, whether you’re looking to empower players or simply change things up a bit.

Alternate Skill DCs

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 184
This section presents an alternate set of DCs for challenging skill checks that better rewards characters who have invested many resources into being adept with a specific skill. When you would set a skill check DC that would normally be equal to 15 + 1-1/2 × CR, Average Party Level, or character level, you can instead use the corresponding DC provided in the table below. Similarly, you can replace a skill check DC that would be 10 + 1-1/2 × CR, Average Party Level, or character level by subtracting 5 from the corresponding value in the table below.
You can also use these DCs to replace similar skill check DCs provided in adventures, abilities, or other products. Keep in mind that characters who have made the maximum possible investments in a skill, including class specializations and item bonuses, will likely easily overcome these challenges, and the option to increase these numbers by 5 remains a valid way to represent an especially difficult scenario. You may also choose to use these alternative values only for skill checks outside of combat.
Finally, flat DCs (such as those to swim in various environmental conditions; Core Rulebook 137) remain unchanged, with characters becoming more and more able to overcome basic tasks as they grow in power.

Skills DCs

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 184
1 17
2 18
3 19
4 20
5 21
6 22
7 23
8 24
9 25
10 26
11 27
12 28
13 29
14 29
15 30
16 31
17 31
18 32
19 32
20 33

Free Archetype Variant

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 184
Archetypes in Starfinder allow a player to craft a specific character concept that goes beyond a theme and class, granting specific abilities that are usually unavailable through those means. However, the alternate class features offered by an archetype alter or replace the main features of a class at certain levels. Sometimes, the story of a particular campaign calls for characters who are part of the same organization or who have a shared background. The free archetype variant introduces a way to make such characters while retaining existing class features.

Gaining a Free Archetype

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 184
The differences between a regular character and a free-archetype character begin when the character reaches 2nd level (or the first level at which that archetype provides an alternate feature). At that point, the player should choose an archetype their character meets the prerequisites of (if any) to gain that archetype’s first alternate class feature for free, in addition to gaining any of the normal features of their class. While using this system, you treat a PC’s character level as their class level for the purposes of archetype selection and abilities. As the character levels up, they continue to gain that archetype’s alternate class features (at 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, and/or 18th levels) without having to alter or replace their normal class features. If the archetype offers a choice of alternate class features at a particular level, the player can make that choice freely but must still choose an alternate class feature they qualify for. If an archetype doesn’t offer an alternate class feature at a particular level, the player gains a bonus feat instead (they must still meet the prerequisites for that feat).
Depending on the campaign, the GM might restrict the archetypes that can be chosen, perhaps even to a single archetype (such as the phrenic adept for a group that has experienced a shared psychic awakening).
Unlike a normal archetype, this free archetype isn’t attached to a particular class, so a player can multiclass and continue to advance in their chosen free archetype. A player can also add different archetypes to their character as normal.

The Free Archetype Variant in Play

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 185
Free-archetype characters are a bit more powerful than regular characters, as they have access to more versatile abilities, but this is unlikely to unbalance the game. These additional options might be overwhelming to newer players, so a GM might want to consider limiting the use of regular archetypes when using this variant, so as not to introduce more complexity.
If a character retrains skill ranks or feats using the retrain downtime activity and no longer meets the prerequisites for a free archetype, the character loses access to all of that archetype’s abilities until they meet the prerequisites once again.

Milestone Leveling

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 185
As an alternative to the standard method of leveling by way of gaining experience, you can use a milestone leveling system. This means that you decide when players level up their characters, rather than tracking and doling out experience based on completed encounters. While some groups may enjoy tracking experience and the incremental measurable reward it brings with each encounter or game session, others want to gradually increase in level over time. This gives you more control over the story pacing and encounter budget, which can help streamline campaign planning.
Published adventures often provide milestones you can use to gauge when a group would level up. You can adjust the pace as best suits your shared campaign. However, keep in mind that it’s satisfying to have sufficient time to explore and use new and improved abilities and equipment before progressing.

Equipment and Treasure

Source Starfinder Enhanced pg. 185
Story-based wealth pairs well with milestone leveling, removing encounter-to-encounter credits and wealth tracking in favor of doling out rewards in large increments. Some groups may enjoy tracking credits and making planned purchases between sessions, while others might not. For a simpler advancement scheme, instead of providing full credit rewards, give the PCs equipment of an appropriate item level (equal to the PCs level or one higher), alternating between armor and weapons each level. Subtract the cost of this equipment from the normal credit reward and provide the remaining credits to the player (or that amount’s worth of serums, spell gems, or similar consumables).
As with leveling, it’s important to talk with players about how you all want to handle tracking equipment and wealth during a campaign. As PCs level up, they need to upgrade or swap out equipment to stay in keeping with the expectations baked into the game’s math. As long as PCs upgrade their primary gear (armor and weapons) every two to three levels, encounters tuned to their level should continue to provide a balanced challenge for the group.