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Chapter 8: Tactical Rules / Combat Basics

Other Rule Terms

Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 242
In addition to the basic combat mechanics and statistics detailed above, the following terms and rules are also frequently used in Starfinder, both in and out of combat.

Allies and Enemies

Sometimes an ability targets or requires an enemy or an ally, such as the envoy’s watch out improvisation. You count as your own ally unless an ability says otherwise. The GM has the final say on whether someone is an enemy or ally; you can’t declare one of your fellow party members to be an enemy or an enemy to be an ally just to trigger a special ability.

Significant Enemies

The GM can and should declare that an ineffectual foe is not enough of a threat to count as an enemy for effects that grant you a benefit when you do something to an enemy or have an enemy do something to you. For example, the commander ability of the mercenary theme requires you to defeat three distinct groups of significant enemies in a day to recover 1 Resolve Point; a mercenary shouldn’t gain this benefit if all they did was step on three different bugs that had no chance of hurting them. In general, a creature with a CR less than or equal to your character level – 4 is not a significant enemy.

Armor Proficiency

Most classes grant proficiency with light armor, and more meleeoriented classes, such as soldiers, grant proficiency with heavy armor. If you are wearing armor with which you are not proficient, you take a –4 penalty to your Armor Class.

Powered Armor

Characters can gain proficiency with powered armor by taking the Powered Armor Proficiency feat (see Chapter 6) or via certain class features. Powered armor imposes more significant drawbacks on wearers who aren’t proficient with it than other types of armor. If you are wearing powered armor with which you are not proficient, you take a –4 penalty to Armor Class, you are always flat-footed and off-target (see page 276), and you move at half speed. If the armor has a special form of movement (such as the flight speed of a flight frame), you cannot use that form of movement.

Multiplying More Than Once

When you are asked to multiply a value or roll more than once, the multipliers (×2, ×3, and so on) are not multiplied by one another. Instead, you combine them into a single multiplier, with each extra multiple adding 1 less than its value to the first multiple. For example, if you apply a ×2 multiplier twice, the result is equivalent to multiplying the value by 3 (or rolling the damage three times), not multiplying it by 4.


Occasionally the rules might ask you to round a result or value. Unless otherwise stated, always round down. For example, if you are asked to take half of 7, the result would be 3.

Weapon Proficiency

Most classes grant proficiency with basic melee weapons and small arms. Combat-oriented classes, such as solarian and soldier, grant proficiency with more categories of weapons, as noted in each class’s Weapon Proficiency section. All characters are proficient with any natural weapons they might have, such as a claw or bite attack. If you use a weapon with which you are not proficient, you take a –4 penalty to attack rolls with that weapon, and the DC for any saving throws against that weapon’s special effects likewise takes a –4 penalty.

Weapon Specialization

At 3rd level, all classes grant specialization in groups of weapons, which increases the damage you deal with those weapons. See the Weapon Specialization feat on page 163 for more details.

Wielding Weapons

When the rules refer to wielding a weapon, it means you are holding a weapon with the correct number of hands and can thus make attacks with it. For example, if you are holding a small arm or one-handed melee weapon in a hand, you are considered to be wielding the weapon. If you are carrying a longarm or two-handed melee weapon in one hand or wearing a holstered or sheathed weapon, you are not wielding that weapon.

Rerolls and Rolling Twice

Some abilities allow you to reroll a failed die roll—usually an attack roll, a saving throw, or a skill check. Unless an ability says otherwise, you must decide to use a reroll as soon as you know the result of your first roll but before the GM tells you the outcome or you declare the use of any other ability. You use your rerolled result only if it is better than your original result. There are also abilities that allow you to make two rolls for a specific die roll and take the better of the two results. These abilities require you to decide to roll twice prior to the die roll. Some abilities allow you to force a foe to roll twice and take the worse of the two results. These abilities also must be announced prior to a die roll being made. In most cases, once an ability to either reroll or roll twice (or force a foe to roll twice) has been applied, no other similar ability can be applied to that same specific die roll. There are exceptions, however. If one character forces a foe to roll twice and take the worse result, that enemy can still apply the ability to roll twice and take the better result. The reverse is also possible—countering the advantage of rolling twice by forcing a foe to roll twice with a worse result. In both cases, the two abilities negate one other, resulting in a single die roll being made. That die roll cannot then benefit from an ability that would allow a reroll.