Sunday, October 13, 2019

Star Trek Adventures - Felicity Cooke in Trouble

Let's continue with Star Trek Adventures by putting the computer specialist from a previous post into various kinds of trouble. These posts reflect insights gained from our USS Yamato campaign. I hope that passing on our impressions helps improve your experience with the game.

First, I'm going to give the "totally not a hacker" example a name - "Felicity Cooke" - and develop her from a concept into a fully playable character. A few minutes with the Star Trek Adventures online character builder gives me this:

Lieutenant Felicity Cooke

Species: Human
Environment: Isolated Colony
Upbringing: Science and Technology (A)
Assignment: Operations Manager

Control 11          Fitness 8          Presence 8
Daring 9             Insight 9          Reason 11

Command 2        Security 3        Science 4
Conn 2               Engineering 4   Medicine 1


  • "Nothing Can't Be Fixed"
  • "Call It Like I See It"
  • "Something to Prove"
  • "Some Rules Can Be Bent, Others Broken"


  • Resolute
  • Computer Expertise
  • Technical Expertise
  • Bold: Engineering


  • Computers
  • Cybernetics
  • Electro-Plasma Power Systems
  • Espionage
  • Composure
  • Infiltration

Stress 14

The previous post established Felicity Cooke as having good ratings in the Engineering and Science Disciplines. Focus and Talent selection was driven by the "cyber information specialist" concept. The choice of Operations Manager as her bridge post is the closest that I could get to "information technology in SPACE" that I could get. Operations Manager does make good use of her abilities, as we will see.

Personal Combat - General Principles

So what happens when a Starfleet officer gets into trouble? Starfleet's policies usually call for deescalating conflicts whenever possible. However, Federation starships busy with boldly going and Away Teams exploring strange new worlds are routinely confronted by less idealistic organizations. Starfleet personnel are expected to be able to defend themselves in a dangerous galaxy.

Security is the Discipline that most directly determines how effective a character will be in personal combat.
  • Combined with the Control Attribute, Security determines how accurate a character is with a ranged weapon like their phaser sidearm.
  • Combined with the Daring Attribute, Security determines how often a character will land hits in hand to hand combat.
  • Combined with the Fitness Attribute, Security determines how many points of Stress a character can endure losing.

Putting a moderate number of points in Control, Daring, and Fitness and a fair amount of points in Security is prudent for a character who regularly takes part in Away Team missions. This approach results in a character who can take care of themselves without pulling too many points away from a core concept that may not be personal combat. On the other hand, a character who does have personal combat as a core concept - a Security Chief or other combat specialist - may wish to raise those Attributes and the Security Discipline as high as possible during character generation to reflect their training and experience. Finally, there are some characters who specialize in roles that keep them on the ship. This may result in a character who needs protection from others on those occasions when they do appear on an Away Team. There's nothing inherently wrong with this approach - Starfleet doesn't expect a Ship's Counselor, historian, or botanist to be a combat machine.

Personal Combat and Felicity Cooke

Felicity Cooke is an example of a character who was not created specifically for personal combat. Even so, she's not exactly helpless if a fight breaks out.

She has a Security Discipline of 3 due to some time spent with Starfleet Intelligence, who put her affinity with computers to use early in her career. Don't ask her about it, though - it's classified and she doesn't want to talk about it anyway.

Her Control Attribute of 11 makes ranged attacks her best bet for self defense. A Ranged Attack is a Control + Security Task with a Difficulty of 2. This means that she has to roll a 14 or below on a d20 to generate a success. She'll need 2 successes to hit. Since players normally only roll 2 d20s, she'll have to draw on Star Trek Adventures' metacurrencies (Momentum, Threat, and Determination) to get more dice. This is not unusual - the players should be watching for opportunities to generate those metacurrencies and the Gamemaster should grant those opportunities generously. Star Trek depicts Starfleet officers as succeeding more often than failing (to the point where failure sometimes becomes a story element) and the game models their high level of competence.

With a Daring Attribute of 9, she doesn't want to get into close quarters with a hostile Klingon warrior or Jemhadar soldier if she can help it. A Melee Attack is a Daring + Security Task with a Difficulty of 1. The lower Difficulty seems to make it a better option than a Ranged Attack, but a Melee Attack is an Opposed Task. Felicity Cooke's opponent will get their own Daring + Security Task to counter her roll. If her opponent wins the Opposed Task, her attack fails and the opponent is considered to have made a successful Melee Attack on her. Engaging a more capable hand to hand combatant is a risky move in Star Trek Adventures.

The Resolute Talent (adds +3 to Stress) means that she can tank more Stress (14) than her Fitness Attribute of 8 might suggest.

In the end, Felicity Cooke can take care of herself as long as she doesn't get in over her head. Exchanging phaser fire with Cardassian and Romulan soldiers from behind cover is comfortably within her abilities, but hand to hand combat is something she'll want to avoid.

Starship Combat

A character's contribution to starship combat depends on their post. As Operations Manager, Felicity Cooke will mainly be using the ship's sensors and minding the ship's internal systems.

Sensor Tasks

The two Tasks related to a starship's sensors that directly relate to starship combat are Sensor Sweep and Scan For Weaknesses. There is a third Task - Launch Probe - but it doesn't seem to come up all that often in combat.

Sensor Sweep

A Reason + Science Task, assisted by the ship's Sensors + Science, with a Difficulty of 0. Any successes generated by the Sensor Sweep Task are either used by the player to ask questions of the Gamemaster - fun things like "what just blew a hole through the hull?" Or they can be added to the Momentum Pool as usual.

With a Reason of 11, a Science of 4, and the Technical Expertise Talent, Felicity has no problems with using the ship's sensors to tell her what's going on outside the ship. The GM can increase the Difficulty based on conditions outside the ship - sensor interference is a common issue in Star Trek. Since Felicity is attempting a Task assisted by the ship's Sensors, her Technical Expertise Talent can be used to re-roll a single d20 (which may be the ship's die).

Scan For Weakness

A Control + Science Task, assisted by the ship's Sensors + Security, with a Difficulty of 1 that increases with range. Describing the exact effects of success involves a fairly deep dive into the starship combat rules. Since I want to keep the length of these posts down to something reasonable, I'll just say that a success here will makes the job of putting down a hostile ship easier.

Felicity's Control of 11 and Science of 4 give Felicity a good chance of rolling successes. The re-roll granted by the Technical Expertise Talent also applies, giving her player another shot with a failed die roll.

Internal Systems Tasks

The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual goes into some depth in describing the role of the Operations Manager in coordinating a starship's activities and allocating its resources on a minute by minute basis. In the game, this is modeled by giving a character like Felicity the ability to carry out the Power Management, Regenerate Shields, Damage Control, and Transporter Tasks. Most of these Tasks are actually easier (Difficulty reduced by 1) if performed in main engineering or - in the specific case of the Transporters Task - a transporter room.

Presented below is a look at how each of these Tasks work, using Felicity Cooke as an example. Before that, though, let's take a look at Felicity's Bold: Engineering Talent. It triggers when Felicity attempts a Task using her Engineering Discipline and her player buys at least 1 additional d20 by adding to Threat. If both conditions are met, Felicity's player may re-roll a single d20. As many of the Tasks described below use the Engineering Discipline, Felicity will have many opportunities to use her Bold: Engineering Talent to improve her chances of success. Unfortunately, it is at the price of increasing the danger she and her shipmates might be facing later.

Power Management

A Daring or Control + Engineering Task with a Difficulty of 2. Success means that the ship gains a point of Power, plus one additional point per Momentum spent. This Power can exceed the ship's normal maximum.

Ship's power is a critical and limited resource in Star Trek. Bypassing systems of less importance in the moment and rerouting the power that they would otherwise use is commonly seen in the various series. As a way of wringing more power out a ship in a crisis, it makes sense - things like the replicators and holodecks are rarely used when the ship is taking fire, after all.

Felicity's Control of 11 and Engineering of 4 make her a good choice to perform this Task if the Chief Engineer is busy. Making her an even better choice is her Electro-Plasma Power Systems Focus. Each die that rolls equal to or less than the Discipline used (in this case, Felicity's Engineering of 4) scores 2 successes.

This Task can Succeed at Cost - the player has the option of taking a Complication on a failed result to make the Task happen successfully. A Complication in this case likely represents the negative effects of robbing Peter to pay Paul - maybe a system that Felicity thought wouldn't be needed turns out to be critical, forcing the crew to do without it.

Regenerate Shields

A Control + Engineering Task, assisted by the ship's Structure + Engineering, with a Difficulty of 1. The Difficulty increases by 1 if the ship's Shields are at 0. Success restores 2 points of Shields to the ship, plus 2 additional points for each Momentum spent (Repeatable).

The ship's shields are another critical and limited resource in a crisis. As seen many times in the series and movies, shields rapidly deplete in a dramatic fashion as they protect the ship from damage. Pumping more power into the shield system is the usual response.

Felicity's Control of 11 and Engineering of 4 give her a good chance of getting the shields back up in a pinch. By invoking her "Nothing Can't Be Fixed" Value, Felicity's player may spend a point of Determination. This grants some interesting options: a bonus d20 that is considered to have a result of 1 - generating 2 successes automatically, re-rolling all of the dice in the character's die pool, immediately performing an additional Task as soon as the current one is resolved, or creating an Advantage applying to the current scene. In the case of the Regenerate Shields Task, the bonus d20 might be the best choice.

Damage Control

A Damaged or Disabled system must be chosen before the die roll for this Task. A Presence + Engineering Task with a Difficulty determined by how much abuse the system in question has taken. Success means that the system can be used again normally. This specifically does not remove any Breaches the ship has suffered, only the penalties imposed by that damage.

This Task involves sending a damage control team to the source of a problem with orders to patch it up. The Damage Control Task does not represent actual repairs to shot up systems - only emergency measures to bypass non-functional components and get them working long enough to get out of danger. This is why the Breaches don't go away along with the penalties. Breaches take days or weeks of repair, replacement, and rebuilding to fix.

Felicity's Presence of 8 and Engineering of 4 means that the Chief Engineering might be a better choice of this Task. However, both Felicity's Bold: Engineering Talent and "Nothing Can't Be Fixed" Value still apply, improving her chances at the cost of either adding to Threat or spending a point of Felicity's Determination. On the other hand, the Chief Engineer has resources of their own to call on, starting with the fact that they are likely standing in Main Engineering - reducing the Difficulty by 1.

As an alternate to this Task, either Felicity or the Chief Engineer can use the Change Position Minor Action to just go to whatever system is broken and fix it themselves. A Daring or Control + Engineering Task.


Power Requirement of 1. A target (an object, group of objects, or group of people) and destination both within Close range of the ship must be selected. A Control + Engineering Task, assisted by the ship's Sensors + Engineering, with a Difficulty of 2.

The Difficulty of the Transporter Task increases depending on the following:

  • Increase by 1 if the target is not on a transporter pad.
  • Increase by 1 if the destination is not a transporter pad.
  • Increase depending on interference or other adverse conditions depending on the Gamemaster.
In addition, the target cannot be transported to or from any location with more than 0 Shields.

On the other hand, the Difficulty of the Transporter Task is reduced by 1 if performed from any transporter room. Which makes leaving it up to the Transporter Chief Minor Character really tempting.

But if Felicity has some free time while her ship is taking fire, her Control of 11 and Engineering of 4 means she's fully qualified to perform this Task. Since the Transporter Task is assisted by the ship's Sensors, Felicity's Technical Expertise Talent kicks in, granting a re-roll on a single die.

Next Time: Wrapping up things with our computer specialist by taking a closer look at her Values, Talents, and Focuses. Also, applying Directives to an adventure.

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