If a player's species starts with a vulnerability to an elemental damage, or light blindness. What happens if the character is able to overcome that detriment. Do they "return the ability bought" with that negative like how Drow lose half their darkvision & spells?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a specific combination you're looking at? And when you're talking about Drow, what option are you looking at that makes those changes? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 13, 2022 at 1:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of my players has a species with a vulnerability to sonic & took the feat Enhanced resistance to gain resistance to that. I feel that it should be at a cost of what the vulnerability bought as abilities for the species. I'm not sure as to what the official rule is on that. \$\endgroup\$
    – EmyrsPhil
    Nov 13, 2022 at 4:34
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't the cost "spending a feat on Enhanced Resistance but not actually being resistant to anything"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Nov 13, 2022 at 4:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I never considered to take that route, & the more I think on it, the more I like it. A feat to overcome the vulnerability, & a second feat to achieve resistance. \$\endgroup\$
    – EmyrsPhil
    Nov 13, 2022 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, I was remembering 5th edition rules. As Carcer's answer pointed out, resistance & vulnerability do not cancel out, and having both is generally worse than having neither. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Nov 13, 2022 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Nothing happens

There is no general rule that requires a character who overcomes some sort of racial disadvantage (by feats or otherwise) to consequently lose some other racial advantage instead. The character has already paid some kind of cost - such as using one of their limited feat selections - and the game does not punish them for doing so by taking away some other feature. If we were talking about a species with a racial penalty to Strength but a bonus to Intelligence, and the character chose to improve their strength when they levelled up, would you say "working out made your brain shrink, lose your +2 Intelligence bonus"?

The rules also do not offer any kind of association between a species' different racial traits to indicate a particular advantage has been "bought" by a corresponding disadvantage.

Resistance does not override vulnerability anyway

In the specific example of a character who has both vulnerability and resistance to a kind of damage, these two mechanics do not directly cancel each other out as they work differently. Vulnerability means the creature takes an extra 50% damage; resistance subtracts a flat number from incoming damage. These both apply at the same time; being resistant does not prevent one from also being vulnerable.

So, for instance, a creature who has sonic resistance 5, sonic vulnerability and takes 20 sonic damage takes a total of 25 damage; the incoming damage is increased by 50% to 30 because of their vulnerability and then reduced by 5 because of their resistance. They clearly haven't completely overcome their vulnerability to sonic damage, because despite their resistance they've still taken more damage than a creature who wasn't vulnerable would.

(I have assumed that vulnerability applies before resistance as Starfinder is not clear about how exactly these rules interact, but this is the order of operations that seems established in parent system Pathfinder, as per this question. It also doesn't change the argument if it were applied the other way around - the specific value of damage taken may vary, but it's still more than a non-vulnerable creature would normally take).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I looked & couldn't find any mention to negative to stats so I have no idea why you brought that in. Stat negatives are common. I'm asking about things added to species to excuse adding powerful traits to them. Things like Light blindness for Drow to gain more darkvision & more powerful spells. With tech I can see it, since the tech can fail. The Drow usually lose that & it seems more a means to rebalance the species to the ruleset than a punishing of the player (who knowingly picked that species). Good to know that resistance doesn't negate vulnerability, I like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – EmyrsPhil
    Nov 13, 2022 at 23:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ They're mentioning stats as an example of something where a character obviously would not have a setback for trying to improve an inherent weakness of their race and saying there's no general rule for anything like that. You do not "return the ability bought" if you offset a racial weakness, whether it's as simple as a stat penalty or something more complex. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shivers
    Nov 14, 2022 at 0:30

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