Archive for June 27, 2017


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This time we’re taking on the rules for Combat in Star Trek Adventures. We’ve already discussed Action Order in our last article, so let’s get right to the rest of the rules!

Zones

In Star Trek Adventures, a combat environment is made up into several zones based on terrain features or natural divisions in the area. For example, a building or starship interior would treat individual rooms and hallways as different zones.

Distances

Movement and ranges fall into four categories and one state.

  • Reach is a state where an object or character is within arm’s reach to another. Characters need to enter Reach to interact with objects manually or to perform melee attacks or otherwise interact via touch.
  • Close range is defined as being the zone where the character is currently in.
  • Medium range is any zone adjacent to the character’s current zone.
  • Long range is defined as objects and creatures two zones away from a character’s current zone.
  • Extreme Range would be creatures and objects beyond Long range.

Movement

Moving to anywhere within Medium range is considered a Minor Action. Moving further requires a Task. Though it normally has a Difficulty of 0, the presence of difficult terrain features or other complications may increase the Difficulty accordingly. Failure may result in the movement stopping prematurely outside of their intended destination, or even suffering damage from hazards.

Cover

Cover represents objects that interfere with the character’s line of sight or attack. Cover provides additional Resistance against Attacks. A zone will either grand cover universally, or the GM may denote features within the zone that count for cover.

Each instance od Cover will grant a certain number of of Cover Dice and may have additional benefits or drawbacks based on the nature of that cover.

Minor Actions

In a Turn, a character may attempt a single Task, and several Minor Actions. Minor Actions do not require a roll, and are often taken in support of a Task, such as moving towards a better vantage point for a shot. A character may take as many Minor Actions as they wish, but only the first one is free. Each additional Minor Action costs 1 Momentum. Furthermore, each Minor Action may only be performed once each Turn.

Minor Actions include:

  • Aim – A character may re-roll a single d20 made on an Attack before the start of their next Turn.
  • Draw an item – The character may pick up an item within Reach, draw a weapon or other item stowed in their gear. If the item requires no Task to use then it can be used immediately.
  • Drop prone – The character drops to the ground to make themselves a smaller target. While prone, a character may re-roll any number of Cover dice, and increases all ranged attacks against him from Medium range or further by one step. However, melee and ranged attacks at Close range gain two bonus Momentum against the character, and the character may not make any movement-related tasks.
  • Interact – Interact with an item. Complex interactions may call for a Task.
  • Movement – Move to any point within Medium range. This may not be taken if the character performs any movement-related Tasks. If there are one or more enemies within Reach, then this action cannot be performed.
  • Prepare – Ready to perform a Task. Some Tasks require this Minor Action to be taken before the Task can be attempted.
  • Stand – If the character is prone, he may take this action to stand.

Combat Tasks

As noted above, a character can normally attempt a single Task once per turn, but there are ways to enable a character to perform a second Task. Regardless, a character cannot attempt more than two Tasks in a Round. These methods are:

  • Determination – Spending one Determination to take a second Task during a Turn.
  • Momentum – Spending two Momentum from a successful Task to attempt a second Task; however, this second task increases in Difficulty by one.
  • Leadership – Some characters have actions that demonstrate their prowess as leaders, granting an additional Task to characters under their command as per the Direct Task, detailed below.

The following Tasks are common to Combats:

  • Assist – Perform an activity to grant an ally an advantage. Nominate an ally they can communicate with, and declare how they are giving aid. During the nominated ally’s Task, the character assists with the declared Attribute, Discipline and Focus as normal for assisting on a Task.
  • Attack – The character attacks an enemy or other viable target and attempts to inflict harm.
  • Direct – If the character is the commanding officer or designated leader in the combat, then they can nominate a single other character present and allow them to immediately perform a single Task, assisted by the commanding character. This can only be used once per Scene.
  • Guard – The character prepares for an attack. This is a Task with Difficulty 0, and success increases the Difficulty of any attacks made against the character by +1 until the start of the character’s next turn. A character may nominate to take this action on an ally’s behalf, raising the Difficulty by 1 and the benefit lasts until that ally’s next Turn.
  • Pass – The character chooses to not attempt a Task. If the character takes no Minor Actions this Turn, then the character does not count as having taken a Turn, and may act later in the Round instead.
  • Ready – The character declares that they are waiting for a specific situation or event to occur before attempting a Task. When the triggering situation occurs, the character interrupts the turn to resolve the readied task. If the triggering situation does not occur, then the Task is lost.
  • Recover – The character ducks behind cover and takes a moment to ready themselves for more fighting. This is a Difficulty 2 Fitness+ Command Task (reduced to Difficulty 1 if behind cover). Success means that the character gains one additional Resistance for each Effect rolled on Cover Dice and regains their ability to Avoid an Injury. Further, the character may regain 2 Stress per Momentum spent.
  • Sprint – The character attempts a Difficulty 0 Fitness + Security Task to move one zone (to any point within Medium range) and one additional zone per Momentum spent.
  • First Aid – The character attempts to stabilize an injured character within Reach. This is a Difficulty 1 Daring + Medicine Task where success means that the injured character is stabilized and will not die at the end of the scene, but remains incapacitated. The character may spend 2 Momentum from this to get the patient back into the fighting right away, exactly as if they’d spent Determination to ignore the Injury.

Making An Attack

Attacks are going to be the most common action taken in a Combat situation, so let’s take a look at how they’re handled in the rules

  1. Attacker chooses the weapon they plan to attack with.
  2. Attacker nominates a target for that weapon.
  3. The Attacker declares if the attack is intended to be non-lethal or lethal. If the attack is Lethal, add a single point to the Threat pool.
  4. The Attacker attempts a Task, determined by the type of Attack being performed:
    1. Melee attacks are a Difficulty 1 Daring + Security Task opposed by the target’s Difficulty 1 Daring + Security Task. If the target wins the opposed Task, then they are considered to have made a successful attack instead.
    2. Ranged attacks are a Difficulty 2 Control + Security Task. Unlike Melee attacks, this is not an Opposed Task.

If an attack is successful, then the attacker inflicts damage with the following procedure:

  1. Roll the number of [CD] for the attack or hazard’s damage rating. The total rolled is the amount of damage the attack or hazard inflicts.
  2. If the target has any Resistance Dice (like [CD] from Cover, etc.) those are rolled and added to any static Resistance that the character has. The total is the character’s applicable Resistance to that attack.
  3. Reduce the total damage rolled by one for each point of Resistance. If there is any damage left over, then the target suffers one point of Stress for each point. The character may also suffer an Injury should any of the following occurs. If two or more of the following conditions take place, the character suffers two Injuries instead:
    1. If the character suffers five or more damage from a single attack or hazard, after reduction from Resistance.
    2. If the character is reduced to 0 Stress by that attack or hazard.
    3. If the character had 0 Stress before the attack or hazard, and the attack or hazard inflicts one or more damage, the character suffers an Injury.

Injury

When a character suffers an Injury, they are incapacitated and unable to take any minor actions or attempt any Tasks until the end of the scene. If a character would suffer two Injuries from a single attack, resolve each Injury one at a time.

If a character was already Injured by a non-lethal attack, then another Injury of any kind immediately turns that into a lethal Injury instead. If a character has already been injured by a lethal attack, then another Injury will kill the character instantly. At the GM’s discretion, a dead character may be disintegrated entirely.

Avoiding Injury

Needless to say Injury is bad news. Thankfully all Player Characters have a limited ability to fend off mortal wounds, by diving aside at the last possible moment, ducking into cover, or otherwise dodging out of the way. This desperate act can’t be done all the time though.

When a character suffers an Injury, they have the option of avoiding it. This allows them to suffer no effects from being Injured and they may continue to act as normal, but it does not remove any other effects from the attack (Stress is still lost, the character may have been knocked prone, etc.)

Choosing to avoid an Injury costs 2 Momentum. Alternately, a player may opt to pay for it by adding 2 Threat instead. Another option is to pay for Avoiding Injury by taking on a Complication, which represents a minor injury, or some other consequence of the attack like damage to nearby equipment or some bystander getting hit.

Avoiding an Injury can only be performed once per Scene, however. The only way to get an additional chance to Avoid an Injury is to perform a Recover Task, as detailed above.

Dying and Healing

Injured characters are effectively out of a fight for the scene unless something happens to them. Thankfully, they can’t be targeted by further attacks unless the attacker adds one to Threat (or an NPC spends one Threat) to make that attack. Inflicting an Injury to an already injured character kills them immediately, if the attack was lethal.

If a character is Injured from a non-lethal attack, then they recover at the start of the next Scene automatically.

Characters Injured by lethal attacks however are at risk, as they will die at the end of the Scene, unless they receive first aid.

Healing Injuries can only be attempted outside of combat and is a Difficulty 2 Control +  Medicine Task. Success on the Task removes the Injury completely as well as any related Complications.

Combat Momentum

Momentum is a valuable resource in combat. When a character spends Momentum, they can trigger a whole host of effects that can help his team or hinder his opponents.

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Needless to say, managing the flow of and generation of Momentum should be a consideration made by the entire team in a fight.

The last part of this chapter goes into some Weapon Types and Qualities, but I’ll hold off on that and revisit those later when we get to the Equipment Chapter.

Okay, so this was a giant chunk of mechanics to look into. But despite all the lists, it’s actually quite speedy once you get used to it. Fans of tactical combat with a lot of options to play around with will enjoy all the little details baked into the mechanics.

I’m used to Conan, so the use of zones and abstracted ranges are okay with me. They do speed things up and allow for the use of crude maps without having to count squares.

Based on my experiences with Conan, the players will enjoy working on generating Momentum for use in the various spends.

As a GM, the combat system gives me a lot of ideas for Dynamic combat situations that complicate life for all the participants. Smoke and fire hazards in a pitched firefight in the Engineering Deck, as a basic example, further complicated by explosions or even the loss of gravity or life support.

I will say however that my impression of the Star Trek Adventure game as a rules-medium game is slowly sliding towards rules-heavy. Given where we are now in the Let’s Study series, we’ll still have to look at equipment, weapons and more importantly: Starships.

We’ve technically hit the halfway mark of this series, so let’s hope you’re all not bored of me yet!

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Welcome back! Today, I’m working on a tight deadline today so I’m going to be breaking up the coverage of Chapter 7: Conflict into two parts. This article will go over the Social Conflict Rules of Star Trek Adventures.

Action Order

Before that however, the chapter goes into a very brief look at determining Action Order for Conflicts. Combat will likely use this more than Social Conflict. To put it simply, unless the GM has a reason  to take the first turn, the GM will always choose a PC to start combat.

Once the PC has completed their turn, then the PC will then hand the action to the opposing side, who will choose a character of their own to act next. Alternately, the player may choose to spend 2 Momentum to keep the initiative and hand off the turn to one of their own. Nobody can that side can keep the initiative again until the opposition has taken a turn of their own.

If all characters of one side have taken a Turn, then the rest of the characters on the remaining sides complete their actions in any order. Once all characters have taken their turn, then the action goes to a character on whichever side did not take the last Turn.

Social Conflict

Star Trek Adventures defines Social Conflict as the collective term for Tasks and Challenges that are resolved through deception, diplomacy, bargaining, intimidation and a range of social skills.

To put it simply, Social Conflict occurs when you have two sides, and one wants something from the other. This can be material objects, cooperation or some other commitment.

The basic step is to determine how reasonable the request is. Trivial requests that don’t involve a lot of effort or is within the normal range of activities of the party being asked are likely to be agreed to automatically. Likewise, requests that are of considerable effort or which is completely contrary to the normal activities of the person being asked are likely to be refused automatically.

For those requests that fall in between however, will likely require a Persuasion Task to convince the party to take action in your favor. The Difficulty of the Task is determined by the GM.

Social Tools

To help a character when performing a Social Task, they can rely on a number of Social Tools, or approaches that they can utilize to alter the circumstances and context of the request to move things in their favor.

The Social Tools as outlined by the book are: Deception, Evidence, Intimidation and Negotiation.

Deception requires an Opposed Task, where the acting character attempts to implant a lie to the target. If successful, then the party being lied to receives a Trait, which represents the lie that they know believe to be true. This will color any future Persuasion Tasks made to convince them to undertake a given course of action.

Evidence is the straightforward approach of providing evidence to support your request. This is normally automatically successful, but if the recipient is expecting deception, then this may require further Tasks to convince them of its authenticity. That said, each piece of evidence is a Trait that represents a fact proven true.

Intimidation clearly requires an Opposed Task, with difficulties determined by the relative strength of both sides. It’s easier to intimidate someone from a position of obvious strength or superior numbers. A successful intimidate attempt imposes a Trait on the target, representing their fear of the threat.  Like deception, this can then be leveraged to make successive Persuasion Tasks easier, or even possible.

Negotiation is the most equitable of the the Social Tools, and requires that both parties offer something in exchange for what they want from the other.  This is represented mechanically by creating an Advantage to represent the favorable side and a corresponding Complication to represent the cost of the offer.

All of these social tools can be used in combination with each other, such as utilizing Deception first to convince another party that you have something that you really don’t, then Intimidating them with it.

Take note that Social Conflict is not always reduced to a single roll. In making it a Challenge, the game can then have a protracted series of Tasks as both sides work on getting the other to submit to an agreement that is more favorable to one side than the other.

I’m glad they put in a Social Conflict system in Star Trek Adventures. If anything, given all that Starfleet stands for, it would be remiss for them to not acknowledge that talking things out is the preferred first step of the Federation.

That said, the use of Traits, Advantages, Complications are in full swing in these mechanics. I like how they provide a means by which you can leverage your arguments, and are forced to take on different approaches to get what you want, while fending off the attempts of the other party to render your efforts useless. Tracking Traits and Advantages might be an issue, but I’d need to play through it to really get a feel for things.

In my next post, I’ll be moving on to the rules governing Combat.