[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 8: Technology and Equipment

Posted: June 28, 2017 by pointyman2000 in Let's Study, Reviews, Roleplaying Games, Star Trek Adventures
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Today we’re taking a look at the Technology and Equipment Chapter for Star Trek Adventures.

Introduction

The chapter opens with a quick introduction to the nature of technology in the Star Trek universe, with a nod to the fact that many common items can be replicated, allowing for ordinary items to take the form of an Advantage. These Advantages allow for the owner to attempt Tasks that normally wouldn’t be possible without the right tools.

This means then that there aren’t any specific rules for a particular tool. If a tool is meant to enable a character to do action X, then if they have the Advantage representing that equipment, then they should be able to do so.

Obtaining Equipment

Most of the time, characters are assumed to either have their equipment on-hand, such as the items that they start play with, or will spend some minor effort to get the equipment out from storage.

For more urgent, time-sensitive acquisitions, the character must spend Momentum  to obtain it in time. This is regarded as an Opportunity Cost. Certain items have an Opportunity Cost, which denotes how much Momentum must be spent to acquire the item. Like in most cases, Players may also opt to add Threat to pay for the Momentum Cost instead.

Now, some items, like weapons, destructive equipment, or anything else that signifies aggression or preparation for battle, could have an additional or different cost. Called an Escalation Cost, it is paid by adding Threat, to represent that the situation is about to go dangerous.

When obtaining multiple copies of an item, Opportunity Costs must be paid per item, but Escalation Costs are only paid once.

Innovation

When utilizing technology, one cannot overlook that a skilled Engineer confronted with a problem can find ways to make technology do something more than it was intended to do. This calls for the Innovation mechanics.

Innovation calls for three steps: Design, Development, and Prototype.

Design

The first step to any innovation is for the characters to determine what they want to achieve. Once the character have a clear idea of what they’d like to do, they need to define a way by which they will use technology to achieve that purpose, and what technology they’ll use as a basis for their innovation.

An example of this is perhaps to plan to short out an enemy ship’s communications from the inside by jury-rigging an EMP device out of a Phaser rifle’s energy source.

Development

The GM then determines the cost of this innovation, these usually come from Time, Materials, Personnel and Location.  Once these are accounted for, the characters then create a schematic for the innovation. This is an Engineering Discipline Task, and will use the Succeed at Cost rule.

The GM takes note of any Complications that occur, but does not need to define them at this step.

Prototype

The final stage of innovation calls for the use of the Prototype. The Prototype serves as two Advantages for whatever purpose the device was created for. Of course, prototypes are hardly perfect, and the GM then reveals the drawbacks of the Prototype, based on the number of Complications generated in the Development phase.

These include:

  • Extremely large and bulky – Requires a Task to get into position
  • Massive power requirements – May need to be hooked up to a major power supply, diverting energy from other important systems
  • Distinctive energy signature – The output produces an easy to detect signature that can call attention to the use of the device
  • Burn out – The device is only usable a certain number of times
  • Mutually Exclusive – The innovation alters the base technology so much that the original functions of the underlying technology is not usable without effort in putting it back together the way it was.

Advanced and Primitive Technology

In their travels, it would not be unusual for members of Starfleet to encounter different levels of technology. Unfamiliarity with a different level of technology usually manifests as either a bigger Complication Range when using it, or limiting the scope of the Advantage that the device would normally provide.

Weapons and Gear

Weapons in Star Trek Adventures have the following stats:

  • Type – Melee or Ranged
  • Damage Rating  – A number of [CD] rolled, and one or more Damage Effects that trigger when an Effect is rolled. All weapons gain additional [CD] to their damage rating equal to the Security discipline of the character(!)
  • Size – Weapons will either be one-handed or two-handed. Two-handed weapons can still be used in one hand to make an attack but the Difficulty increases by 1.
  • Qualities – These are additional rules that provide restrictions or benefits that apply to the weapon’s use.

Damage Effects and Weapon Qualities

Star Trek Adventures has the following Damage Effects and Weapon Qualities

Damage Effects:

  • Area – The attack affects a wider area
  • Intense – The attack is designed to inflict massive harm, the cost to Avoid an Injury is increased by 1 per Effect rolled
  • Knockdown – The target is knocked prone, this can be resisted by adding Threat equal to the number of Effects rolled
  • Piercing X – The attack ignores X points of Resistance for each Effect rolled
  • Vicious X – The attack deals X points of additional damage for each Effect rolled

Qualities:

  • Accurate – Aiming allows for this weapon to reroll all their d20’s instead of just 1.
  • Charge – If a character performs a Prepare Minor Action before attacking, they may add one of the following to the attack: Area, Intense, Piercing 2 or Vicious 1
  • Cumbersome – The weapon cannot be used to attack unless a Prepare Minor Action is performed in the same turn.
  • Deadly – The weapon is designed to be lethal, any attempts to make a non-lethal attack increases the Difficulty by 1.
  • Debilitating – Medicine Tasks to perform First Aid on characters Injured by this weapon or to heal Injuries caused by this weapon increase in Difficulty by 1.
  • Grenade – The weapon is a throwable explosive or device. This cannot be used to attack enemies in Long or Extreme ranges. Grenade weapons are assumed to have enough grenades to make three attacks with them per scene.
  • Hidden X – The weapon is easy to conceal, and any search of the character requires a Difficulty X Insight + Security, or Reason + Security Task to find it.
  • Inaccurate – The character gains no benefit from the Aim Minor Action when attacking with this weapon.
  • Non-lethal – The weapon is debilitating rather than deadly. Attempts to make lethal attacks with this weapon have the Difficulty increased by 1.

Armor

Armor in Star Trek Adventures is fairly straightforward, and bestows a static Resistance value to be used against damage rolls.

Equipment

The chapter concludes with a quick description of a whole host of various items common to the Star Trek universe ranging from the ever-present Tricorder to the more exotic Artificial Sensory Organs like Geordi La Forge’s VISOR. These count as Advantages and each entry has an accompanying Opportunity Cost.

Add another subsystem! This time to the benefit of the Engineers of the crew. Innovation is a cute system though and I do like how it ties in well with the Science subsystem in Star Trek Adventures.

I have to say that despite the heavier-than-usual mechanical considerations in the game, I’m actually quite impressed at how many ways they’ve thought to engage players of different types. Given that combat isn’t the first order of business in a Star Trek game, it’s imperative that you find ways to gamify actions that would otherwise be reduced to a single roll in most other settings. That way, everyone, regardless of character type has something they can engage in and feel like they’re able to contribute even if doesn’t involve maiming the opponent.

Next up, we’ll be looking at one of the most important aspects of the game: Starships and Starship rules for combat!

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