SF Shields vs Defences In Starfinder


I have been messing around a bit building a couple of Starfinder ships recently. I have come across two main issues in this time. One is that the way NPC crews works seems kind of... unsatisfactory. But the one I wanted to ask about more specifically was the relative value of shields versus armour and defences.

Which one is more important? Can either of them be dispensed with entirely while still maintaining satisfying ship to ship combat? I have mostly been building cheap, low budget ships and by the time I have all the systems I would want to make the ships purpose functional there often does not seem to be a lot of budget left for the things your ship uses to stay alive.


Prodigal Member
I've only played a bit of ship combat, and I haven't tried building a ship, so take this for what it's worth...

The combat we did was in ships with balanced armour, defenses and shields. Obviously sacrificing one of those makes the ship more vulnerable but I don't know which is most important.

I think you'll struggle to come up with a low-budget ship that does more than one thing. Look at the Kevolari Venture in the book, as an example of a basic ship: tier 1, 6 crew, all the normal ship stuff, 2 weapons, and a science lab. Basically, it has one special feature, the science lab. If you want more useful add-ons it'll cost more.

Maybe you could look at the sample starships in the book and find one with a similar amount of "stuff" as what you want - not the same in detail, just a similar number of weapons and filled expansion bays. That might give you an idea of what you can get for your money.

Also keep in mind that you can upgrade your ship later, within the limits of its frame. Your ship wouldn't be able to do everything from the start but would improve over time.


Space combat in SF is kinda lacking once you know the winning formula, which is getting the biggest turret you can. That way you don't really need all that much of a shield as you can always present the enemy with your strongest side (the way the enemies skills are calculated the PCs will nearly always win initiative) and can blow away the enemy with a few shots.

Only when the DM starts to disregard the guidlines and builds enemies from experience or uses multiple ships it gets more ambiguous what to use.