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At 3rd level, all the Starfinder classes grant Weapon Specialization feat for their proficient weapons, which states:

[...] you add your character level to damage with the selected weapon type, or half your character level for small arms or operative melee weapons. [...]

(Starfinder Core Rulebook, p. 163)

And all classes grant proficiency with small arms.

There is a small arm called the "Needler Pistol" which is "a favorite of assassins and battlefield medics alike" and "can be fitted with cartridges containing medicine or poison".
(Starfinder Core Rulebook, p. 189)

The Needler Pistol does 1d4 piercing damage, which is pretty bad, but adding up to 10 damage from Weapon Specialization is even worse.

The description of darts states that they can be used to deliver healing serums (Starfinder Core Rulebook, p. 190), but the healing serums only heal 1d8, 3d8, or 6d8 (Starfinder Core Rulebook, p. 225).

This healing could outweigh the Needler Pistol's weapon damage enough to be situationally useful, but with the Weapon Specialization bonus damage, it seems like it would always be an incredible waste.

Is it required to add this bonus damage?

Or are these "battlefield medics" either under 3rd level or colossally desperate?

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Weapon Specialization does not appear to allow a choice (which would be with language such as 'you MAY add your character level...'). So yes, you will add your level to any damage done with a weapon you are specialized in, strange as that may seem.

At low levels, not a concern for battlefield medics, but even at higher levels, the amount of healing being delivered will hopefully outweigh the damage being applied. It would certainly appear to be more efficient to just apply medicine by hand, but in combat, you do what you need to survive.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wow this seems like a huge oversight... although looking at the actual Medicinals, you would almost never want to apply them to an ally in combat except possibly the Antitoxin. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Aug 24 '17 at 11:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've updated the question to reference the amount of healing from serums of healing. I think it's pretty low, especially when it's also compensating for the Needler Pistol shot. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Clark Aug 24 '17 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ The simple fact is that D&D, PF, and presumably also Starfinder has basically no provision for not going all-in on whatever it is you're trying to do. No rule lets you deliberately reduce your bonus to a roll simply because you want to downplay your result. Personally, I always rule that someone can roll as if they have a lower bonus than they really do if they'd like, and they can always choose not to use the positive benefits of a feat if they don't want them right now (though convincing an observer they're actually less skilled than they are would require a separate bluff/deception check). \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Aug 24 '17 at 18:11
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Weapon specialization essentially adds an abstract increase in effectiveness of a weapon, without specifying how it achieves this; Do you swing harder, or just hit a more optimal place? If it were swords, an argument could alos be made that you use a more optimal angle for a cut or stab.

But arguably, the weapon doesn't shoot harder, you just use it better, and if you are targeting something in a better way, you can not do that just as well, only leaving the regular damage from the weapon, and not increasing it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Martin, and welcome to RPG Stack Exchange. Please check out our tour to see how we work here, and when you reach 20 rep, you'll be able to join us in Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Aug 24 '17 at 13:23

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