Archive for the ‘Let’s Study’ Category

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One of the more interesting details I’ve come to realize about Call of Cthulhu is that running away is a completely valid means of managing a situation. It stands to reason then that Call of Cthulhu should have mechanical backbone to support it.

I don’t think I’ve seen this much mechanical emphasis on chases in another game outside of Spycraft, which is another genre that highlights the value of a well run chase scene as a source of conflict and tension.

Mechanically, Chases are handled with a more involved turn-by-turn system that works by establishing relative speeds, relative positions, obstacles and rules governing actions taken during the chase scene that could result in injury or capture.

Tracking is handled on a linear track, as opposed to a grid map. I actually prefer this method as it saves on table space while still being able to keep track of where everyone is.

Beyond this is a large number of optional rules that cover everything from passengers, collisions and sudden hazards and obstacles. It’s extensive, and I’m glad that there’s a lot of them there in case you’ll need something that you didn’t expect like air and sea chases, or even mixed chases.

Few things capture the nature of primal terror better than watching someone try to outrun near-certain death. Horror movie moments aren’t made from the protagonist kicking ass, but pulling off narrow escapes. Call of Cthulhu acknowledges this by giving systems that cover this conflict with the kind of attention it deserves.

If you’d like to read along, you can pick up a PDF copy of the Call of Cthulhu Keeper’s Rulebook from DriveThruRPG for only $27.95



For games like Star Trek Adventures that are based on very well-established, and well-loved settings, it’s important to be able to have a solid GMing chapter that can guide even the uninitiated Game Master into being able to run it in a way that feels authentic. As one of those GMs who only know Star Trek at a casual level, I fully understand how intimidating it is to try and take on a setting that has so much love (and some would say, fanaticism to it).

Fortunately, Star Trek Adventures has a hefty GMing chapter that knows how to guide someone to confidence.

Rather than dip into each of the sections and echo each of the advice provided, here’s a quick glance at the main sections of the chapter:

  • Running Star Trek Adventures
  • Character Creation
  • Managing the Rules
  • Player Characters
  • NPCs
  • Experience and Promotion
  • Creating Encounters
  • Creating Missions, NPCs, and locations.

Along the way the chapter goes into providing ideas on Styles of Play, and possible themes to center a Star Trek Adventures campaign around, from the classic “These are the voyages…” type of stories to something centered on a starbase like Deep Space 9.

Each of the mechanics are given an examination as to why they’re there and how to best use them. I found the section detailing challenges and how (and why!) they’re structured that way to be very useful.

My favorite section of the entire chapter is a quick look at Star Trek Adventures and what makes it different from other RPGs. I’ll add the quick quote of the two paragraphs here as it sums everything up beautifully:

Star Trek Adventures and indeed Star Trek can be a
markedly different experience from other examples of
both the roleplay gaming and science fiction genres.
Where most science fiction stories focus on conflict,
wars, aggressive aliens, and Humanity as heroes, Star
Trek can be seen, on the whole, to subvert those tropes,
leaning more towards a future in which understanding,
cooperation, exploration, and discovery is the focus and
driving force of the its stories. The opening sequence of
the original Star Trek series begins with Kirk explaining the
five-year mission of the Enterprise “to explore strange new
worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations,” not for
war but for knowledge.

In that sense, Star Trek Adventures is not your usual
brand of roleplaying game, in which most time spent at
the table is engaged in armed conflict with monsters or
antagonistic races. Star Trek Adventures’ missions and
campaigns focus on exploration and discovery, with each
Player Character having a key role in supporting that
effort. This section will tell you, as the Gamemaster, how to
highlight those individual roles in a game on the frontier of
the Star Trek galaxy.

It pretty much summarizes what impressed me about Star Trek Adventures. All the sub-systems revolving around discovery, engineering, diplomacy are there because there was a deliberate design intent to craft a game around stuff in addition to combat.

No longer will non-combat tasks be simplified to just a single roll, players who take on the duties of a Scientist will actually be able to sink their teeth into something, and for all the complexity of the book, this is what made Star Trek Adventures impressive for me.

Aliens and Adversaries


This section is the “Bestiary” section of the game and details a whole host of NPCs that a Starfleet crew can interact with. These feature about 3 different types of npcs: Minor, Notable and Major. The level of detail for each entry varies, with Minor being barely detailed beyond combat stats, to Major characters having full backstories and Values.

Here we see examples from:

  • United Federation of Planets
  • Klingon Empire
  • The Romulan Space Empire
  • Borg Collective
  • Ferengi Alliance
  • Cardassian Union
  • The Dominion
  • Alien Artefacts
  • Beasts of the Galaxy

Summary Review

*Sips iced tea*

Where do I even start? I knew of Star Trek before from some of the movies and a few of the original series and TNG episodes I’ve watched before, but I wasn’t really a fan. So when I got the preview pdf offer from Modiphius, I wasn’t certain I would understand the appeal of the game. But since I was sold on the 2d20 system from my experiences with Conan, I figured it can’t be that bad, right?

Fast forward to now and I’m practically gushing about the game mechanics to my long-suffering wife, who even now nods patiently in understanding while I type this out and she reads it over my shoulder.

Art and Layout

Fans of the aesthetic of Star Trek will find plenty to love here, with the layout mimicking the user interfaces of the ships. However, I have to admit that adjusting to reading white text on dark background on screen was a little difficult at times, and I found myself wishing for a black and white version for readability.

There are a few typos in my preview copy, but hopefully those will be dealt with by the time the final product rolls out in stores.

The artwork is pretty evocative, and I didn’t really cringe at any of them. The Starships are probably the highlight of it all, and I did find myself wondering why there weren’t any more images of Starfleet in more relaxed situations. There’s a lot of Starfleet guys running / shooting / dodging explosions, but you’d be surprised at how hard it was to find an image to go with the Social Conflict article.


This is a mechanics-heavy game that will take repeated exposure, careful reading and more than a few goofs to internalize. While the basic mechanics are easy enough to grasp, there’s a ton of subsystems to cater for different styles of play. GMs will have to spend a bit of time really studying the system to get the most of it. Hopefully this series of Let’s Study articles can help future GMs learn faster!

I found the ship combat to be pretty heavy, and I’ve yet to try it out to see how things turn out. It promises a lot of explosions and show-appropriate destruction, so I’m looking forward to it.

Review & Conclusions

Buy it.

If you can afford the collector’s edition, get that.

If you can afford the Borg Box, then by all means, get THAT.

Star Trek Adventures has made a fan out of me out of the sheer amount of love and care put into creating a game that delivers on the promise of playing through and experience that is true to the series. This isn’t D&D in space in Starfleet uniforms. Modiphius knows what it’s doing whenever it works with a licensed setting.

Every rule exists to enforce the physics and ethics of the setting. There’s not a sign of lazy game design anywhere here, with each rule and subsystem carefully considered before it was added to the final product.

My only concern, if any, would be the fact that it’s a big read with a fair amount of complexity. But if you’re willing to put in the time to go through it and understand the systems, you’ll see the elegance behind it.

At this point, I’m wrapping up my Let’s Study series on Star Trek Adventures. I hope that the entries have been helpful, and informative, and if you’d like to show me a bit of love, then please consider supporting me on Patreon.

If you’re interested in buying it on PDF, you can purchase a copy of Star Trek Adventures over at DriveThruRPG for only $15.56!

Thanks for reading everyone! See you all in the next series!

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Welcome to the third entry for Chapter 9, and we’ll be talking about Starship Creation in Star Trek Adventures

Starship Creation has the following steps:

  1. Service
  2. Spaceframe
  3. Mission Profile
  4. Refits


This is the era in which the game is played, and is decided upon by the GM and players.

For the purposes of our example, we’ll choose Service year 2368


A vessel’s spaceframe is its basic superstructure, core systems, operational infrastructure and all other elements that are common to every vessel of the same class.

The Players choose a single class for their starship, this will provide a collection of abilities that will serve as the baseline stats of the Starship: the ship’s base scores for Systems and Scale, three points towards Departments and what weapons are on board.

Some classes may even have Talents that represent upgrades universally applied to ships of that class.

We’ll be going for an Akira Class Spaceframe for this example. This grants us the following:

Systems: Comms 9, Computers 9, Engines 10, Sensors 9, Structure 11, Weapons 11
Departments: Security +2, Medicine +1

Scale: 5

Phaser Arrays, Photon Torpedoes, Quantum Torpedoes, Tractor Beam (Strength 4)

Ablative Armor, Extensive Shuttle Bays, Rapid-Fire Torpedo Launcher

Mission Profile

A ship’s Mission Profile distinguishes it from her other sister ships. It determines how the ship will be equipped, what facilities and personnel will be assigned to it, and what kind of operations it will be expected to perform.

For our Akira Class Starship, let’s go with Pathfinder and Reconnaissance Operations

This will give us the following Departments: Command 2, Conn 2, Security 2, Engineering 2, Science 2, Medicine 1

We also get to select a Talent, for which we’ll go with: Improved Warp Drive


Starships normally receive periodic refits and upgrades throughout their service. For every full ten years between the year the ship went into service and the current year of the game, the ship receives one Refit.

Given that for this example we’re going with the same year as the year the Akira Class went in service I guess this means I don’t get any Refits.

Putting It All Together

At this point we have our newly minted Akira Class Starship

Traits: Federation Vessel

Systems: Comms 9, Computers 9, Engines 10, Sensors 9, Structure 11, Weapons 11
Departments: Command 2, Conn 2, Security 4, Engineering 2, Science 2, Medicine 2

Scale: 5

Phaser Arrays, Photon Torpedoes, Quantum Torpedoes, Tractor Beam (Strength 4)

Ablative Armor, Extensive Shuttle Bays, Rapid-Fire Torpedo Launcher, Improved Warp Drive, Rugged Design

Resistance: 5
Shields: 15
Power: 10
Crew Support: 5

Shipboard Weaponry

Shipboard weapons come in 2 broad categories: Energy Weapons, and Torpedoes.

Energy Weapons

Energy Weapons project bolts or beams of focused energy or energized particles at a target. These weapons are fairly commonplace, with most cultures having some form or other of these as a typical armament of Spacecraft.

Making an attack with an energy weapon has a Difficulty of 2, and a Power Requirement of 1. An attacker may spend up to 2 additional Power to bolster an energy weapon’s attack, adding +1 [CD] to the damage of the attack for each Power spent.

The base damage rating of energy weapons is the Ship’s Scale plus Security.


Each type of energy weapon differs by granting a single damage effect or quality to the weapon. Federation Starships always use phasers, but NPC ships can be armed with other kinds.

  • Phasers grant the Versatile 2 quality
  • Disruptors have the Vicious 1 quality
  • Phased Polaron Beam have the Piercing 2 Quality

Delivery Method

The delivery method of an energy weapon describes how the emitters are arranged, and how the weapon is set-up to fire. Each delivery method defines the Range category and provides some additional benefit.

  • Cannons have a Range category of Close, and increase the weapon’s damage by +2[CD]
  • Banks have a Range category of Medium and increase the weapon’s damage by +1[CD]
  • Arrays have a Range category of Medium and the attacking character may choose to grant Area or Spread effects to the attack.


Self-propelled projectiles containing large volatile, energetic or explosive payloads, torpedoes are less precise but are extremely potent when used correctly. Making an attack with a Torpedo has a Difficulty of 3, but do not have a Power requirement.

Torpedoes are also potent enough to escalate conflicts, declaring an attack with a torpedo adds +1 to Threat.

Torpedoes may be fired in a salvo, which adds +3 to Threat but increases the attack’s damage by +1[CD] and grants the Spread effect to the attack.

Torpedoes have a base damage rating and adds [CD] equal to the the ship’s Security. All Torpedoes have a Range of Long.

  • Photon torpedoes have a base damage of 3[CD] with the High Yield Quality
  • Quantum torpedoes have a base damage of 4[CD] Vicious 1, with the Calibration and High Yield Qualities.
  • Plasma have a base damage of 3[CD] Persistent, with the Calibration Quality

Alien Vessels


This section has the detailed statistics and special rules for the various Alien Vessels that your Starship are likely to run into. It’s an extensive collection of ships, and I’m glad they took the time to describe each vessel in terms of how it’s used by the particular race.

The special rules are a great way to showcase that these aren’t just another collection of stats. Already, I can sense the panic in my player characters at the thought of running into a Borg Cube.

For those curious, the ships featured in this section are:


Klingon Empire
– D7 Battle Cruiser
– K’vort Class Bird-of-Prey
– D’rel Class Bird-of-Prey
– Vor’cha Attack Cruiser

Romulan Star Empire
– Bird-of-Prey
– D’deridex Class Warbird

Cardassian Union
– Galor Class Cruiser

– Jem’hadar Attack Ship
– Jem’hadar Battle Cruiser

Borg Collective
– Borg Sphere
– Borg Cube

Ferengi Alliance
– D’kora Class Marauder

The Maquis
– Maquis Raider
– Maquis Fighter

Okay, this chapter was a lot to chew through. Ship creation is easier than it looks, and I’m grateful for it. I’ve not had a chance to test out ship-to-ship combat, but it certainly looks exciting, and particularly deadly to poor members of the crew who might get caught in all the fires and explosions.

That said, you can’t fault Star Trek Adventures for being as thorough as possible with the Starship rules. It’s such an integral part of the Star Trek experience that it would have been harshly criticized if it didn’t dedicate so much effort into it.

Finally, our next post will be a look at the GMing chapter, with a peek at the NPCs, and the Sample adventure before we wrap up with a summary review of Star Trek Adventures!


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!


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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!


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.