Star Trek Adventures: Now that the full rules are out, what do you think?

lyle.spade

Adventurer
I decided to start a new thread, despite there being a few long(ish) ones, because all those already up were primarily, if not entirely, based on the playtest rules and materials and not the full, final release.

I picked up the PDF the day it was released, and will certainly get the physical copy when my FLGS stocks it. I've read just about the entire book, and a number of parts a few times over, in addition to having read the entire playtest rules a few times. I have run one session of the game thus far. And here's what I think...

The Good
  • The system, despite seeming overly crunchy and with too many moving parts as presented in the playtest, is actually really easy and flows quickly at the table. I ran it for four players, three of whom had played 2d20 a few times before, and one who'd never heard of it, and we felt no need to check the rules, nor did we ever feel slowed down while trying to figure out how to do this or that.
  • We avoided starship ops intentionally, from a desire to get to know the system and have a good session - better to do less, and do it well, then shoot for more and do it all poorly. I used a short adventure found in the back of FASA's STIII Sourcebook Update, which involved the crew of a TOS movie-era ship (I decided on a Miranda class) encountering the lost USS Republic (Constitution class), missing for 15 years in a nearly starless expanse. The antagonists were a form of those little flying jellyfish buggers from the TOS episode Operation: Annihilate!, meaning I had to work up stats for those and modify NPC crewman stats for the infected crew of the Republic. It was really easy, and resulted in a fun session.
  • The mechanics provide for a solid foundation, with lists of Tasks and Minor Actions one can take, as well as a great deal of flexibility when coming up with ways to adjudicate for things not explicitly covered by those lists. Yeah, sure, I know I hand-waved some stuff in the interest of keeping the action moving, but when I went back later to see where I strayed from the rules I was never that far off.
  • Everyone, myself included, felt like it FELT like Star Trek. We're all fans, but our group was made up of folks who don't know each other all that well, and while we all did our individual parts to contribute to the vibe, the system eased that work a great deal.
  • The book (PDF at this point) is beautiful and easy to navigate - very well organized.

The Bad, or rather, What Needs to be Improved
  • I felt a little out of my depth in determining uses, beyond the purely mechanical, for Threat, and for coming up with relevant and interesting Traits for scenes. I am not a FATE player at all, and so that approach is still very new to me - the FATE players at the table immediately got it, though. I'd like more examples of Advantages than what I've seen in the book thus far. Perhaps that'll just come through familiarity with the system and time playing the game.
  • I'm not hip on the advancement system, which makes actual character improvement a long and seemingly arduous process. That's from a reading of it, however, and not experience with it. We'll see.
  • I'm not hip on the mechanical parity between characters supposedly right out of the Academy and long-serving Veterans. Again, that's from reading and not experience playing, so maybe I'll change my tune there.

I loved FASA's stuff BITD, however in looking at it all now I can see where it was overly simulationist, and in so doing the system overshadowed so much of the narrative and theatrical aspects that make ST so unique. LUG's stuff was beautiful and well-written, but I thought the Icon system was a dog. I have no experience with the Decipher version. I think this is a great game - a really great game, in fact, one that I'm excited to play more. I'm also excited about community-created resources, which I hope to contribute to over time.

What say you?
 

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oneshot

Explorer
Well, I will disagree with you about your dislikes of the advancement system and the fact that the characters are mostly at parity at character creation, regardless of rank or veteran status. Both of those things are interrelated and by design. The game is attempting to mirror characters like Julian Bashir or Harry Kim that despite being junior officers freshly graduated from the academy, they are integral memebers of the command staff and are able to contribute as much as, say, Chief O'Brien and Tuvok who have decades of experience in Starfleet. I can understand your dislike, but the alternatives are also unsatisfying. You either have to go the LUG route and have everyone start as an ensign, in which case you have to bend over backwards explaining why the same group of ensigns all keep getting assigned to handle these missions instead of the (by definition more competent) command crew. Or you do the decipher route and have rank be essentially purchased with character advancements, so if you have some characters start as command crew, you give all PCs the same number of advancements to start, so you end up in the same place with super competent junior officers. So as a matter of genre emulation and just general playability/fairness concerns, I'm not sure how you could do it differently.

I like the advancement system a lot, for a couple reasons. I like the unique aspect that the GM has little to no role in advancement, and it's based purely on role playing and not on an xp system. There is a generally low absolute power curve increase, but that's because this game isn't a zero to hero game, for the reasons I talked about above. It's a game where you start as a hero and you get to improve yourself and your crew/ship, but only slowly so as not to throw off the balance of new characters and experienced characters.

So ultimately the game isn't going to appeal to people looking for a traditional RPG experience of killing things, taking their stuff, and becoming incredibly powerful. But as a game to emulate the Star Trek shows, it hits the mark, in my opinion. Ultimately, I think a player who plays purely to see the numbers on his sheet go up and up and up is likely the type of player that wouldn't like an extended Star Trek campaign in any event.

In general, I really love the system and think it was well done. My only real quibbles with the game are relatively minor. For example, I think some of the subsystems are a little too complicated with a little too many niche/fiddly options. As a result, I think you almost have to use cheat sheets with new players in order for them to track all the different actions in combat (especially starship combat!). For some players I know, this will be a big turnoff. Certainly, though, the learning curve is less than it would be for 3.5/pathfinder or other games of a similar level of complexity.

I'm with you that I can't wait for a chance to run a full campaign with it. My current group really likes it, and we plan to run it once the current campaign we are doing ends.
 
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lyle.spade

Adventurer
Well, I will disagree with you about your dislikes of the advancement system...as a matter of genre emulation and just general playability/fairness concerns, I'm not sure how you could do it differently.

Good point. As I said, I think it'll take time through play, and relying on the players to work with and support each other in that system to see what I really think about it - and have a valid assessment, rather than just a reader's opinion. Your use of Kim and Bashir as examples made a lot of sense, too, and I may steal that to help make sense of the chargen system.

In general, I really love the system and think it was well done. My only real quibbles with the game are relatively minor. For example, i think some of the subsystems are a little too complicated with a little too many niche/fiddly options. As a result, I think you almost have to use cheat sheets with new players in order for them to track all the different actions in combat (especially starship combat!). For some players I know, this will be a big turnoff. Certainly, though, the learning curve is less than it would be for 3.5/pathfinder or other games of a similar level of complexity.

Agreed. I am going to work on some cheat sheets, actually, to help make those subsystems easier to digest and navigate in use.

I'm with you that i can't wait for a chance to run a full campaign with it. My current group really likes it, and we plan to run it once the current campaign we are doing ends.

I just started a 5e campaign, although it's sputtering at this point due to a group of players that are demonstrating themselves to be pretty unreliable for scheduling. I will probably run STA in the form of one-offs with some other friends, and at local gaming events, and in so doing work out the kinks in the rules for myself, write up some cheat sheets, and get good at running it, and then see what I mighr want to do with it as a regular game.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
 
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Plugged my blog review enough, so I won't mention that again.

I agree with the advancement mechanics being bad, and the need for a cheat sheet for all the fiddly options.
The former is just too slow and focused on one character. You don't want to wait an entire campaign to advance while everyone else is getting better. I don't think it needs to be super fast, but just at the same time for all characters. I do like the somewhat lateral advancement, which is a neat way of allowing your less focused jr. officers to advance and improve without getting significantly better at everything.

I don't mind the parity between veterans and rookies.
First, everyone has their strengths:picard was experienced - more than anyone on the ship - but he couldn't do a third of the stuff La Forge did in Engineering. And Kirk was likely younger than half the senior staff of the Enterprises A and D. Being in a Starship is a team job.
But, more importantly, it's just not fun to play an Ensign Kim, Lt. Worf, or Chief O'Brien and be completely out-shadowed by the person playing a Commander.

I'm less thrilled by the organization. The index is a mess and I can very seldom find what I'm looking for right away. Which is a problem that will be less of an issue when I get a physical copy and can just cover it with post-it notes.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I am underwhelmed.
The art isn't horrible, nor is it great. It is, however, easily 40 pages worth. It's consistent.
The layout is overly whitespaced. Rules material begins on about page 70 of 360...

There is one TOS era Fed ship, and two aggressors. There are Movie era ships, plus instructions on refits - but no actual Refit class definition. Fed ships get refits, and the K'tinga does, too... but no other NPC ships have reference dates, so you cannot apply the refit rules to the badguys to make "legit" improved Warbirds (rom nor klingon).

Experience as written is glacial.

The biggest flaw (namely, that threat/momentum snowballs due to the complications system) is fundamental to the 2d20 system.

The reduction in text on traits actually makes them more clear.
Values are no longer explicitly traits. That's actually an improvement.

And, despite it being asked for by a bunch of people in playtest, the adventure has no maps included. Maps make life easier for the visually focused types.

Oh, and the errata exceeds thatfor MegaTraveller...

It's lowered my opinion of Modiphius to below my opinion of Mongoose. Still above Palladium, but... (Truth be told, I love the look of Palladium's books... it's KS's game engine that's the issue.)

Digging through it some more (the purple is all edit addition) It's edited by a not sufficiently skilled rate editor.

I disagree with several fundamental choices of the designer; that's pretty well known. It is playable. But the Everyone Starts Equal really rankles me. The "lifepath" is not what I think of when I hear the word... I think Traveller, FASA Trek, Space Opera, or LUG-Trek; games where you gain events and skills together. This system is more akin to the "Lifepath" in any of RTG's Interlock games (Esp. CP2020 and Mekton); this flows clearly from the design philosophy. It makes sense... but that doesn't mean I like it.
 
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oneshot

Explorer
I am underwhelmed.


The biggest flaw (namely, that threat/momentum snowballs due to the complications system) is fundamental to the 2d20 system.

To paraphrase you from the other thread on this topic, I think you need to re-read the rules. I'm not sure why you keep repeating this demonstrably false statement over and over. But for those who don't own the book and keep seeing this repeated:

(1) Rolling a complication DOES NOT result in more threat. It is an option for either the players or the GM to buy off the complication for 2 threat instead, but this is not required. You can roll complications all day and never have the threat pool increase once. Rolling a complication never affects momentum, but I'm assuming this is an unintentional typo.
(2) Rolling a complication is fairly rare, occurring only about 7.5% of the time on normal task. Rolling complications (or the GM having more threat) DOES NOT increase the chances of you rolling a complication in the future. While the GM can increase the range at which a complication is rolled, it doesn't require a complication or threat to do so and is, rules as written, designed to cover circumstances that make a situation more uncertain rather than more likely to fail, so it shouldn't be an overly common thing to do. "Snowball" used a verb implies that once you roll one complication, the PCs tend to roll more and more complications. That is quite simply not the case.
(3) Complications aren't the incapacitating force Aramis seems to think they are. They can be only minor inconveniences, and, RAW, the PCs can remove the complication by means of a simple task.

I'm not sure if this is a quirk because of how Aramis ran the system at his table or just a misunderstanding of the rules or probability, but none of that statement is true about the actual game.

As for the rest of Aramis's complaints, they're true but expressions of his personal preferences. If you share those preferences, then no, you probably won't like the game.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
(2) Rolling a complication is fairly rare, occurring only about 7.5% of the time on normal task.

How did you come up with that percentage chance, when tasks can roll 2d20 or 3d20 or 4d20?

Complications would increase with the number of dice thrown. If, on average, you throw 3d20 rather than 2d20, then your chance at complications will be lower than for someone who routinely rolls 4d20.



Second, assuming the number is correct, 7.5% is actually pretty often. For easy figuring, round it up to 10%. That's an average of a complication every 10 task rolls.

How many task rolls happen in a game session? My impression is that this game is dice roll heavy.

I think Aramis may be understanding more than what you give him credit to understand.
 

oneshot

Explorer
How did you come up with that percentage chance, when tasks can roll 2d20 or 3d20 or 4d20?

Complications would increase with the number of dice thrown. If, on average, you throw 3d20 rather than 2d20, then your chance at complications will be lower than for someone who routinely rolls 4d20.



Second, assuming the number is correct, 7.5% is actually pretty often. For easy figuring, round it up to 10%. That's an average of a complication every 10 task rolls.

How many task rolls happen in a game session? My impression is that this game is dice roll heavy.

I think Aramis may be understanding more than what you give him credit to understand.

My percentage chance was based upon a "normal" roll, ie the default of a two-dice roll. True, if you're rolling more dice, the chance of a complication rises slightly, but that math gets fairly complicated, and I'm not inclined to figure it out just for a message board post. However, where the heck did I claim the contrary? Especially as that is completely irrelevant to Aramis's point. He doesn't say "complications occur too often," he says they "snowball." (He also called it a positive feedback loop in a negative direction on another thread.) So the chances using different dice combinations are irrelevant. The chance of rolling a complication varies with the number of dice you roll, but not based on the number of complications present in a scene or the amount of threat in play, which is what Aramis is claiming.

If on average you're throwing 3d20 rather than 2d20, you're probably not playing the game as intended. Boosting the number of dice in your pool is common, but it shouldn't be a majority of your dice rolls unless your GM is setting difficulties unsually high. 4d20 and 5d20 rolls are actually rather rare in my experience.

Second, that rounding up to 10% increases the occurrence of complications by 25%, so that's no small bump. Rolling a complication in 2d20 still occurs less often than rolling both crits and fumbles combined in D&D. And you're still statistically far more likely to roll multiple successes in 2d20 than you are to roll a complication. And that's before you add in character abilities and metacurrency spends that allow you to reroll dice. So that 7.5% is the mathematically expected percentage, but in practice complications occur even less often.

"Dice roll heavy" is a relative term, so I can't possibly address your impression. My suggestion would be if you only have an impression, then maybe you should play a few sessions of the game to better understand it.

I don't know what Aramis understands, nor do I claim to know. In fact, I specifically stated I wasn't sure what the disconnect was. I merely pointed out what he said (and has said multiple times across multiple threads) doesn't reflect the actually play of the game RAW.

Does rolling a complication automatically result in threat? No. Does rolling a complication and/or generating threat result in it being more likely you will roll complications more often? No. There's no snowball effect, and nothing you said above addresses any of that.

I frankly don't understand what your post has to do with mine, other than refuting a claim I didn't make.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
I frankly don't understand what your post has to do with mine, other than refuting a claim I didn't make.

You are refuting his point. I think Aramis knows what he's talking about since I know he's done quite a bit of play testing with the system. with his group. I've read several of his posts on it.
 

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