Archive for the ‘Let's Study’ Category


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Dinosaurs, time travel and weird science! With a combination like that, how could you possibly go wrong? Monte Cook Games’ latest Cypher System game, Predation has all three of these in crazy amounts, and author Shanna Germain tackles it with gleeful enthusiasm.

I’ve been lucky to have been given a Review Copy of the game, and I’m digging into it now to see if this will become my new favorite Cypher System setting.

In this series, we’ll be taking a look at the game, and see if it lives up to the hype. I appreciated Numenera and The Strange before, so I remain optimistic that Predation will be a great product that will appeal to anyone looking to fire lasers while riding bioengineered dinosaurs.

So, what are we in for? Let’s take a look at the marketing blurb:

Welcome to the Cretaceous. Our ancestors won’t climb down from the trees for another 66 million years, but here we are now. Time travel seemed like a good idea. Exploring the ancient world. Building. Creating an entire society here in the jungles of our primordial Earth. Until those SATI guys messed it all up.

We’ve got gear. We’ve got guns. We’ve even bioengineered a few dinos to our liking. And that’s good, because we’ll need it all to survive. History says there’s an asteroid headed our way, and there’s no one left alive who knows how to get back to the future.

Welp. Certainly sounds like a crazy time (and place) but I do like the fact that there’s already a self-imposed apocalypse in place in the form of said asteroid impact.

SATI

Thankfully the opening chapters of the book tell us exactly what SATI is. An international conglomerate, Space and Time, Intg. sent a group of bioengineers and paleontologists and other specialists back to the late Cretaceous period on top-secret missions.

The problem was, that within a decade, something went terribly wrong, and the time-travel process broke down, leaving the commuters (as they were called) stranded in time.

Now (or Then, but you get the picture)

That was a hundred years ago. The early commuters had to survive, and so they adapted to the harsh world, using their sciences to build communities, breed bioengineered dinosaurs, raised families and tried to find a way to get back home.

But with so much time passing, a new generation of humanity is coming to take over. Those born in this era, never having belonged to the future. This is home to them, and it is among them that your characters belong.

It’s quite a setup for a game, and I’m honestly intrigued. I’m hoping that Predation is able to do something new with the Cypher System, and isn’t just a reskin of Numenera. There’s a lot of promise to the setting as is, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be in for quite an adventure.

If you’re looking to join in and study along, you can grab a PDF of Predation over a DriveThruRPG for only $17.99!

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Welcome back!

We continue taking on Chapter 9 today with a look at the Starship Combat. I know I mentioned Starship Construction in my last entry, but this chapter is pretty heavy and I wanted to make sure there was breathing room between them.

Environment and Zones

Much like in Personal Combat, spacecraft positioning in Star Trek Adventures utilized Zones. Given the vastness of space, it helps to divide the space based on physical objects, spatial phenomena and other details in the area. Take note that Starship combat zones are also 3 dimensions, with zones above and below one another and empty zones to provide gaps between objects and phenomena.

Distances

Distances in Starship combat are similar to Personal Combat, with 4 categories and one state.

  • Contact is a state when an object or other Starship is touching the vessel. This is usually used mainly for ships docking with starbases and other facilities. Needless to say, unlike in Personal Combat, you won’t see that many ships going in a state of Contact in a fight as often.
  • Close range is defined as the zone that the vessel is currently occupying.
  • Medium range is defined as any adjacent zone to the vessel’s current zone.
  • Long range is defined as objects and vessels two zones away.
  • Extreme range is any vessels or objects beyond Long range.

Warp

Starships are capable of going to warp and traveling extremely quickly which means that they’re able to leave the vicinity of a battle at a moment’s notice.

To go to warp, whichever character is at the Helm must spend one or more Power, and attempt a Difficulty 0 Control + Conn Task, assisted by the Starship’s Engines + Conn. The Power determines how quickly the ship is moving. If the Task is successful, the ship immediately leaves the area, which will normally end the scene, though the enemy might decide to pursue. A ship may not spend more Power to go to warp than its Engine score.

Pursuing ships must spend more Power than the fleeing ship did.

Distances and Sensors

In ideal circumstances, Starships can scan and detect objects, vessels and phenomena over a certain size or magnitude for several light years away in every direction. The closer an object is, the more clarity and detail can be detected.

Movement and Terrain

Movement in Starship combat is the job of the Helmsman, and is typically a Difficulty 0 Task. Difficulty for movement can increase if the space that the vessel is moving through is hindering or hazardous in any way.

Hindering or hazardous terrain will often have a Scale of its own, this represents the maximum scale of vessel that can traverse that terrain safely.  If a ship equal to or less than the scale of the hazard, then the ship suffers no penalties.

Bridge Positions, Combat Tasks and Minor Actions

In any given turn, any character can attempt a single Task and several Minor Actions. Unlike in Personal Combat, however, the kinds of Tasks that a character is likely to perform is limited based on their position on the ship, and different officers will be given access to different systems as befits their positions.

Minor Actions

These Minor Actions are common to Starship operations. A character can still perform other personal combat Minor Actions as necessary.

  • Interact – The character interacts with an object in the environment.
  • Change Position – The character moves to any other station on the bridge, or other location on the ship to take charge of that station. If the character is moving elsewhere on the ship, they arrive at their intended location at the start of their next turn.
  • Prepare – The character prepares for or spends time setting up for a Task.
  • Raise / Lower Shields (Tactical Only) – The character raises or lowers the ship’s Shields.
  • Restore – The character performs the minor repairs and adjustments necessary to restore a system after disruption or minor damage.

Tasks

A character can normally attempt a single Task during each turn, but as with Personal Combat, they may also perform a second task via the use of Determination, Momentum or Leadership.

The following Tasks can be performed by any character during Starship combat, regardless of their role. Personal Combat tasks may also be attempted where relevant, such as when repelling borders.

  • Assist – Perform an activity that will grant an ally advantage. During the nominated ally’s Task, the character provides assistance as normal for assisting in a Task.
  • Create Advantage – With a Difficulty 2 Task check, the character attempts to create a favorable circumstance that benefits their side. Depending on how this is being done, the Ship may assist this Task.
  • Pass – The character chooses to not attempt a Task. If the character takes no Minor Actions, 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 particular situation or event to occur before attempting a Task. When this triggering situation occurs, the character interrupts the acting character’s turn to resolve the readied Task. If the triggering situation does not occur, then the readied action is lost.
  • Other Tasks – A range of other Tasks might be performed in a combat. Circumstances or objectives might dictate that the character needs to repair or disable equipment, for example, or to perform other activities that don’t relate to the fighting.
  • Override – The character overrides the controls of another role. The character may attempt a Task from any other role other than commanding officer, but increasing the Difficulty by one due to sub-optimal controls.

Positions and Specific Tasks

The most important Tasks attempted during starship combat are reserved for characters at particular positions, which are both a physical location and a set of accompanying responsibilities.

These positions are:

  • Commanding Officer – The CO makes the decisions based off information available
  • Helm – The Helmsman is the pilot of the ship and is responsible for all Tasks that require the ship’s movement and maneuvering
  • Navigator – The navigator is in charge of plotting the ship’s course and determining the spatial conditions that would affect the ship along its course.
  • Sensor Operations – Sensor operations, usually handled by a Science Officer, are used to control the many and varied external sensor systems used to scan planets, spatial phenomena, other vessels and others. It also covers interpreting and analyzing that information.
  • Security Monitor – This station covers all matters of internal security, such as containment fields, deployment of personnel and internal sensors.
  • Tactical Systems – This station covers the operation of weapons and shields.
  • Communications – This station covers all incoming and outgoing communications, including encryption and decryption of messages.
  • Internal Systems Control – This station covers any miscellaneous monitoring and control of internal systems such as damage control, transporters and life support.

Each of these positions are given anywhere from three to six unique Tasks that fall under their purview. To go over each of them here would be huge (and potentially spoil all the goodness) but I’ll detail one to give people an idea:

Helm Tasks

  • Maneuver – The flight controller uses the ship’s thrusters to adjust position and moves to anywhere within Medium range.
  • Impulse – The flight controller uses the ship’s impulse engines to adjust position and move to anywhere within Long range. This has a Power Requirement of 1.
  • Warp – The flight controller uses the ship’s warp drive to move two or more zones. This has a Power requirement equal to the number of zones to be moved. This represents short bursts of warp speed, rather than longer journeys.
  • Evasive Action – The flight controller moves swiftly and unpredictably, attempting to foil enemy targeting with a Difficulty 1 Daring + Conn Task, assisted by the ship’s Structure + Conn. If successful, until the flight controller’s next Turn, all attacks against the ship, and all attacks made by the ship increase their Difficulty by 1. This has a Power requirement of 1.
  • Attack Pattern – The flight controller takes a course that will make it easier to target the enemy. The flight controller attempts a Difficulty 2 Daring + Conn Task, assisted by the ship’s Weapons + Conn. If successful, until the flight controller’s next Turn, all attacks made by the ship reduce in Difficulty by 1 (to a minimum of 1; if already at 1, then gain one bonus momentum instead). This has a Power requirement of 1.
  • Ramming Speed – the flight controller chooses a single enemy vessel or other target within Long range, and moves towards them at full speed. This is an attack, requiring a Difficulty 2 Daring + Conn Task assisted by the ship’s Engines + Conn. This Difficulty increases by 1 for every range category beyond Close the target is. If successful, the attack inflicts a number of [CD] damage equal to 2 plus the ramming ship’s Scale, with the Spread and Vicious 1 effects, and the Devastating quality. However the ramming ship also suffers a number of [CD] damage equal to the target’s Scale, with the Spread and Vicious 1 effects, and the Devastating quality. This has a Power requirement of 1.

Making an Attack

Making an attack with a ship has the following steps:

  1. The attacker chooses the weapon system they plan to attack with, usually between energy weapons or torpedoes
  2. The attacker then nominates a viable target. If the attacker is attempting to target a specific system, then the chosen system should be declared here.
  3. The attacker attempts a Control + Security Task, assisted by the ship’s Weapons + Security, with a Difficulty of 1 for Energy Weapons, and 2 for Torpedoes. If a specific system is chosen, increase the Difficulty by 1. In addition, if the target is not in optimal range, the Difficulty in crease by a further +1 for each range band outside the optimal range.
  4. If the Task is successful, then the attack inflicts damage. If a specific system was not targeted, then roll on the System Hit Table to determine which system was hit.

Damage and Repairs

Damage is determined with the following steps:

  1. Roll the number of [CD] for the attack’s damage rating. The total rolled is the amount of damage that the attack inflicts.
  2. If the target has any Resistance dice such as those from Cover, roll those and add them to the static Resistance that the ship has. This counts as the ship’s total Resistance to that attack.
  3. Reduce the total damage by one for each point of Resistance. If one or more points of damage left over, then the ship loses one point of Shields. The ship may also suffer one or more Breaches to the system struck, if any of the following conditions occur (if more than one condition happens, each one causes a breach)
    1. If the ship suffers five or more damage from a single attack, after reduction from Resistance.
    2. If the ship is reduced to 0 Shields by that attack
    3. If the ship had 0 Shields before the attack and the attack inflicts one or more damage.

The effect of a Breach to a system varies depending on the system that was hit, and how many Breaches the system has already suffered. For each System, a breach has an immediate impact, a short-term penalty such as being unable to use that System for a Turn. Then if the number of Breaches suffered to that system exceeds certain Thresholds, the ship suffers additional penalties as well.

Breaches

This is the table of bad news

Depending on the number of Breaches suffered, a System may be Damaged, Disabled or Destroyed. Each of these are detailed in the book, and none of them sound particularly pleasant.

For an example,  here are the descriptions for Structure Damage:

  • Impact – Whenever the Structure System suffers one or more Breaches, the entire ship shudders, power conduits rupture, consoles explode, and personnel are hurled around. Roll 1[CD]; if an Effect is rolled, then a random character on the ship (PC or important NPC) has been Injured (PCs may Avoid the Injury as normal). These Injuries are considered to be Lethal. for NPC ships, suffering one or more Breaches to Structure means that the ship has one fewer turn during the next Round (this is not cumulative)
  • Damaged – The vessel suffers fires and/or minor hull breaches somewhere on the ship, forcing the area to be evacuated and sealed off. This makes it more problematic to reach parts of the ship in need of repair, increasing the Complication Range of all Engineering Tasks to repair Systems by 2. This also reduces the ship’s Resistance by 1. The Difficulty to repair this is 3.
  • Disabled – The vessel has suffered many fires and serious hull breaches, as well as sections losing life support. The extreme disarray of the ship makes it extremely difficult to perform repairs, increasing the Complication range of all Engineering Tasks to repair the ship by 3, and the Difficulty of all Engineering Tasks to repair the ship by +1. This also reduces the ship’s Resistance to half (rounding down) its normal value. The difficulty to repair this (including the penalty from this damage) is 5.
  • Destroyed – With hull breaches across the ship, fires rating, and life support systems failing, the ship is crippled. The ship’s Resistance is 0, Tasks to repair other systems on the ship can no longer be attempted during combat, and the ship may not move except by thrusters, as rapid movement might tear the ship apart. Subsequent hits to Structure affect the Engines System instead.

Repairing Damage

If a ship has been damaged, Tasks can be attempted to try and repair the damage. These aren’t full repairs, but a skilled engineer can re-route around damaged systems and create impromptu solutions.

I’m glad that Starship Combat takes off from the Personal Combat rules, as it helps to be using similar systems for similar tasks. That said, the addition of Positions for officers, and damage rules for specific systems adds a lot of flavor for the cost of more complexity.

Currently I’m of two minds on this. One, is that I actually like the mechanics as presented. There’s a lot of it that makes sense in terms of simulating the Star Trek experience. On the other hand, there’s really a lot of it to take in to the point that this could be intimidating to some groups.

There’s definitely some payoff to playing the full mechanics however, as it does it’s very best to give you the full Star Trek Ship-to-Ship combat experience, including hurling bodies around and exploding consoles.

Do I still like it? Definitely, but I will understand if people start feeling that this is a bit too much.

Next entry, we’ll be tackling the last bit of Chapter 9 with a look at Starship Construction and Alien Vessels!


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Finally we’ve hit the chapter that covers Starships, Starbases and the Rules for Combat. It’s quite a bit to take in, so I’ve decided to split this up into two parts again.

Starships, Starbases and Colonies

I’ll cheat a bit here and lump these three sections into a brief description. The chapter spends quite a bit of page count talking about each of these, with the Starships perhaps getting the most attention. Starships are described as being a character in itself (as proven later once we get to Starship Creation) and there’s a summary of the various missions that a Starship crew might be sent out on.

There’s also a great summary of the various main locations within a Starship, from obvious ones like the Bridge and Transporter Room, to less talked about ones like the Stellar Cartography room.

Each section talks about life on each of these locations, and the unique challenges that characters face when going about their duties. I liked the Colonies section since it breaks down the challenges of living in the frontier, and has a summary of the various colonies available from Research Facilities to Trade Stations.

Starship Rules

The Rules section opens up with a quick breakdown of two important distinctions:

  • Actions taken aboard a starship are handled by the standard rules. The Ship might provide Advantages in the form of facilities and tools that can help.
  • Actions taken with a starship always benefit from the ship’s presence and nature because the ship is how the actions are taken. These mean using the ship’s systems to perform an action on something that is usually outside of the ship, rather than inside it.

Profiles

Starships have the same basic structure as characters, though they represent different things.

Traits

A Starship will have one or more Traits, most notably the ship’s origin. Different cultures in Star Trek make ships differently and the Trait reflects that. Other Traits a ship might have could reflect their purpose, reputation or history.

Systems

A Starship’s equivalent to a character’s Attributes are its systems. These are Communications, Computers, Engines, Sensors, Structure and Weapons. Like attributes, these Systems have a rating that determines its measure, with higher numbers reflecting greater utility.

Departments

Rather than Disciplines, a Starship has six Departments, which represent the various mission profiles, specialties and personnel each ship carries. These are rated from 0 to 5, with Federation Starships having at least 1 in every Department. These are Command, Conn, Engineering, Security, Science and Medicine.

Focuses

Unlike characters Starships treat every Task it attempts as if it had an applicable Focus. This means that any d20 that rolls equal to or less than the Department being used counts as 2 successes.

Talents

Starships have Talents as well, which represent areas of design and equipment focus; these are similar to the Talents of characters, but the context is determined by the Starship rather than character behavior.

Scale

Starships come in a wide range of sizes, and the Starship’s scale is a representation of its size, and influences several other ratings that a starship will use. Scale is a value from 2 to 6 for Starfleet Vessels, with larger numbers representing bigger ships.

A Starship’s Scale is used to determine the ship’s resilience. Ships of greater scale can also inflict more damage with energy weapons like phasers and disruptors.

Resistance

Resistance is a mix of the ship’s hull and spaceframe configuration, the effectiveness of the structural integrity field and deflector shields. Like in characters, Resistance reduces incoming damage for a Starship.

Shields

Starships and Starbases are commonly equiped with layers of deflective shields. This grants them a Shields rating, which is reduced whenever a ship is subjected to damage, but can be replenished by the actions of the crew and over time. In essence, this is the equivalent to a character’s Stress.

Power

No discussion about Starships and Starbases is complete without talking about Power systems and the act of diverting them to critical systems. Starships in Star Trek Adventures have a Power Rating that represents its reserve and surplus power that can be spent to boost or support a variety of actions taken with the Starship, and can be lost because of complications, hazards and consequences.

At the start of each scene, the ship generates its full capacity of power, and any Power unused from the previous turn is lost. When attempting a Task with the ship, one or more power can be spent before rolling, with each point increasing the Complication range of the Task by 1. This represents the risk of overloads and problems from straining a system with too much power.

However, if the Task is successful, then the character generates one additional Momentum per point of Power spent.

A ship’s normal Power capacity is equal to its Engines system.

Crew Support

Starships also have a Crew Support number, which limits the number of Supporting Characters that can be used in a single session. This represents the amount of crew available to the team, pulling them out of their standard duties on the ship to serve alongside the Main Characters.

A ship’s Crew Support per mission is equal to its Scale.

Operating a Starship

We’ve touched on this at the start of this section, but for Ship actions, where the character is actively making use of the ship to perform a Task, the ship assists the character’s actions, rolling against a target number made from it’s own System and Department combination.

I’m currently down with mild food poisoning as I write this, so I’ll have to cut this a bit short compared to the usual. In my next update we’ll go over Starship Combat, Starship Creation and a quick look at Alien Vessels!


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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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After two very long entries, we’ll be taking a brief look at the next chapter: Strange New Worlds, which discusses the various strange encounters that a member of Starfleet can expect to run into in their voyages.

Strange New Worlds

The first section discusses the various planets and environments that the explorers of Starfleet can find themselves dealing with. This section opens with a rundown of the various Standard Planetary Types, from Class D “relatively small, airless moons and asteroid that are essentially barren balls of rock” to Class Y demon planets “noted for dense, toxic, highly corrosive atmospheres, surface temperatures that exceed 200C and periodic thermionic radiation discharges.”

It’s a great catalog of the different kinds of worlds to explore and is a quick reference for a GM looking for ideas to spruce up their player’s next leg of their voyage.

Alien Encounters

This section talks about the dangers of different creatures that can be encountered and the threats they represent, ranging form large, aggressive creatures to the dangers of unseen parasitic life forms that can wreak havoc on a crew.

Stellar Phenomena

This section tackles the various “space weather” encounters that can complicate a voyage. Ranging from Nebulae, Radiation Storms, Gravitational Distortions and Black Holes there’s plenty here to keep a crew on her feet to make sure that they safely make it to their destination.

Scientific Discoveries and Developments

This section introduces a Research & Development subsystem to the mechanics that come into play when working on tweaking tech as well coming up with new theories and ideas when encountering strange new phenomena.

Step 1: Observe

When encountering a new phenomena, the characters participating in the effort figure out which of the Disciplines this phenomena falls under. The character with the highest rating in the Discipline will then be denoted as the “Research Lead.”

Step 2: Hypothesize

Players then throw out their ideas on what might be happening. The Research Lead then chooses 3 to 5 of these ideas, which are tagged as Hypotheses, and this is explained to the GM.

The GM then determines if any of the Hypotheses fit the truth. If none of the Hypotheses presented fit the actual problem, then the GM immediately gains a point of Threat, and can tell the players to come up with new Hypotheses.

If the players are onto something, the GM then tells them that they are, but NOT which Hypothesis is correct.

Step 3: Testing

The GM then assigns a number of successes needed to determine if a Hypothesis is correct. This ranges from 1 to 10 depending on the difficulty of the research and the problem. This is also often accompanied with a deadline in terms of how many intervals they can work.

The Research Lead then determines which Hypothesis to pursue, and roll for it, in order to try and reach the target number of successes before they run out of intervals.

If they roll enough, then the GM can tell them if the Hypothesis they’re pursuing is successful, or is clearly the wrong one.

This chapter was pretty utilitarian, plenty of useful information to go around, but the Scientific Discoveries sub-system was interesting. I can see it being very important in a “Space CSI” sort of way, given how Star Trek relies more on puzzles rather than overt force to serve as the source of tension.

It’s also a good nod to the team members who put a lot of effort into being the smarter guys of the team, Science Officers will be very happy to be of use, and utilizing the system is a great way to ensure that they’ll make a Spotlight Milestone.

Next up we’ll be taking a look at the chapter covering Conflict, detailing Social Conflict to Combat and if we have enough time, we’ll send our Andorian Security Chief to do some fighting as well!