Star Trek Adventures

[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 10: GMing, NPCs and Review


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!

[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 9c: Starship Creation & Alien Vessels

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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!

[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 9b: Starship Combat

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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 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.


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.


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.


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!

[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 9a: A Home In The Stars


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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!

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


Today we’re taking a look at the Technology and Equipment Chapter for Star Trek Adventures.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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!

[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 7b: Combat


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!

[Let’s Study: Star Trek Adventures] Part 7a: Social Conflict


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.

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