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I was reading about spaceship combat and it explicitly says

Starships in combat are constantly in motion, so it is impossible for a PC to cast a spell with the teleportation descriptor to travel between vessels. Even if a spellcaster has seen the inside of the target starship, the relative speeds between two moving vessels mean that the destination has changed before casting the spell is complete. PCs can teleport only between stationary starships.

However the Solarian revelation Ray of Light is not a teleporting effect and lets you move at light speed, so assuming you can see the inside is it possible to use Ray of Light to move onto a ship during ship combat?

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Probably not - depends on how close your GM thinks ships get in combat and whether or not Solarians can enter a Stellar Mode in starship combat at all

There are two significant issues with trying to use this ability in starship combat, the first being distance and the second being starship combat's funky rules.

Distance

The Solarian Ray of Light revelation states that (emphasis mine):

When you’re fully photon-attuned, as a move action, you can transform yourself into a ray of light and move at light speed to any space you can see within long range.

Long range means a spot within 400 ft. + 40 ft. per Solarian level (though not explicitly clarified on this specific ability, it is on several other stellar revelations that also have "long range"). From 9th level (when you can first take the revelation) to 20th, that gives a range varying from 760 ft. to 1200 ft.

I think you're right that as the effect is not a teleportation effect, or a spell, it's not subject to the limitations that normally apply to teleportation spells. Indeed, the narrative issue that is described for such effects is that the movement of starships means that teleportations just aren't temporally accurate enough, but that issue kind of goes away when you're moving at light speed. And even if you can't see the interior of a ship, you can presumably see the exterior, and you could zap yourself onto the outside of another vessel and then work out how to get inside from there (wearing a space suit is recommended). However, the ships do have to pass close enough to each other that you would actually be close enough to use the ability.

Unfortunately, how much distance a starship combat hex actually represents is left deliberately vague:

Hexes don’t represent a specific distance, as this game’s portrayal of movement and combat in three-dimensional space is more fluid and narrative than realistic.

So it is entirely up to the GM's judgement as to how far away two ships actually are from each other. Given the speeds involved and a reasonable guess at distances in space combat, it seems unlikely that any two ships would get close enough to actually use the ability, and they could plausibly still be out of range even if they were briefly passing through the same hex.

Starship combat vs. combat

Starship combat is generally quite mechanically distinct to regular combat. It is noted to be very malleable with respect to distance and time. Unfortunately, a Solarian can only enter a Stellar Mode (and thus be able to photon attune and use the Ray of Light revelation) if starship combat counts as "battle" enough that it activates their Solarian abilities. Reading around on the internet, it doesn't seem that Paizo have explicitly clarified if that's the case or not, but the Stellar Mode description states:

When you’re not in combat, you can’t enter a stellar mode. This ability manifests only in high-stakes situations, when your training takes over and connects your mind to the universe. There needs to be some risk to you for your stellar mode to activate, so you must be facing a significant enemy. If there’s any doubt about whether you’re in combat or able to access your stellar mode, the GM decides.

So it's up to your GM whether or not the more relaxed pace of starship combat is enough to trigger your Solarian abilities and put you into a stellar mode, or not. There are ups and downs either way; if it does, you can attune and potentially use useful Stellar Revelations (though it's important to note that your abilities don't affect Crew Actions). If it doesn't, then you can get the benefit of Sidereal Influence, which could grant you bonuses to skills that are useful in starship combat actions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "the movement of starships means that teleportations just aren't temporally accurate enough, but that issue kind of goes away when you're moving at light speed" - Over the distances being discussed (thousands of feet), yes. Over distances that might be plausible for ship-to-ship combat using energy weapons, not necessarily. If the ships are armed with lasers, it's plausible they might maintain a separation of several fractions of a light-second or more between them, precisely because it makes pinning down their exact position (and painting them with a laser) more difficult. \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Aug 6 '18 at 8:07
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No, you cannot

Even if it isnt a teleportation effect, you need line of sight to the target location. So, even if we assume that both ships are in front of each other and have transparent cockpits (which they dont have to be), your path is still blocked by a barrier:

Any barrier that would block, reflect, or scatter light prevents you from moving through it.

Yes, you may argue that some light does get pass through glass, that's why you can see through it. But technically, not all light passes through, some is reflected, and some is scattered. That is why laser weapons will damage glass when shooting through them:

Laser weapons emit highly Focused beams of light that deal fire damage. These beams can pass through glass and other transparent physical barriers, dealing damage to such barriers as they pass through.

You can see glass. Light interacts with it, lasers can damage, deform, melt or cut it. And the solarian transports himself to the target location by turning into light, moving at lightspeed and turning that light back into his original form. So, this means that when light attempts to pass through glass, some energy is lost in the process, and would you be happy if you travelled and lost a leg on the cockpit? Me neither.

So, as GM, I wouldnt allow a solarian to lightspeed-travel to another starship's cockpit, even if he could see it.

The space is vast

Starship combat is left specifically vague, but considering the size of Colossal starships (Over 15,000 ft.), and that two colossal starships could occupy the same hex at the same time for a short time (Flyby stunt), we could safely assume that each hex is at least over 30,000 ft in length. This means that the only time your sight would allow you to actually see the other ship would be when they are occupying the same hex or you have some ability to increase your sight beyond normal vision.

And that's why, I said earlier, that ships rarely have transparent cockpits in starfinder, what you see is actually being translated by cameras and sensors. So, unless you are looking at another docked spaceship inside a spaceport, I find it highly improbable that you can see your destination using naked eye.

Starships have shields

The Shields used to protect a starship from attacks are made to protect them for all sorts of weapons, including lasers:

While almost every ship has simple navigational shielding to prevent damage from tiny bits of debris, this protection does little to stop a starship from being damaged by lasers, missiles, and larger impacts. To defend against such threats, a ship has energy shields. Projectors mounted around the ship create a barrier that absorbs damage from attacks.

So, its safe to say that Deflecting Shields are enough to protect against a solarian-turned-into-light coming through your cockpit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you really interpret the ability to mean that a transparent window would block it? \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Aug 5 '18 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Transparent means that light can pass through it... \$\endgroup\$ – ninjahX Aug 5 '18 at 22:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you could argue that. But technically, glass both reflect and scatters some light. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Aug 6 '18 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically, air scatters light. I'm not convinced that transparent glass is meant to be a barrier for that ability. \$\endgroup\$ – Logan Pickup Aug 6 '18 at 4:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Except that air is not a barrier. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Aug 6 '18 at 10:19

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