My group has recently started a weekly game of Starfinder, a system we don't have any prior experience in. During a level-up in the last session, we found the following inconsistency or at least curiosity in the core rulebook.

When creating a character the book mentions that:

You can’t make any individual score higher than 18.

You can increase your score over 18 on each subsequent ability score increase level. That means 4 times increase by 1 to a total of 22.

On top of that, you can get a personal upgrade with another +6 to a given ability score.

That would put the maximum ability score a character can achieve to 28.

However, table 2–1 on p. 19 that shows ability scores and their modifiers only goes up to score value 26 with a +8 modifier.

The table is simple and extending it for additional values is very obvious. However, it made us wonder if we are not missing a rule that limits ability scores in a similar way that D&D 5e and some other systems do or even something else about Starfinder that is relevant to this scenario.


1 Answer 1


No, Starfinder has no upper limit on ability scores

For balance reasons, the system doesn't want you to make first level characters with scores greater than 18 - but as the same section notes, subsequent advances and gear can raise your score higher than this, with no maximum limit mentioned. It is true that table 2-1 doesn't extend past a score of 26, but that is really just a limit of the space available for the table - you may note that the tables of bonus spells for the Mystic and Technomancer (tables 4-5 and 4-11) exceed this table and top out at a relevant ability score of 30-31. As page 21 of the Core Rulebook explains, you may sometimes need to determine the modifier for a higher score:

In the rare instance that you need to determine ability modifiers beyond the numbers presented in the table, such as for extreme high-level play, ability modifiers can be determined by subtracting 10 from the ability score and dividing that result by 2, rounding down if the final result is a fraction. For example, an ability score of 41 would have an ability modifier of +15 (since 41 – 10 = 31 and 31 ÷ 2 = 15-1/2, which rounds down to 15).

This makes it quite clear that it is possible for characters to have scores beyond what is listed in the table and again does not mention any upper bound on what they might be, and if such was going to be mentioned anywhere this would have been the most logical place. (The game doesn't explain how to determine bonus spells for such extremely high ability scores, but deriving the table progression is obvious.)

This is normal for games in this particular family - Starfinder being a derivative of Pathfinder, itself a derivative of 3.5e D&D, neither of which have upper limits on ability scores. In fact, in 3.5e and PF it's considered normal for a well-optimised high-level character to have their most important ability score up in the 30s. Starfinder doesn't seem to go quite that far, but it's using fundamentally the same engine.


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