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Modiphius > Star Trek Playtest Feedback (CLOSED)

Star Trek Alpha Discussion

posted Nov 24, 2016 18:24:53 by ChrisBirch
Please discuss the first Alpha release here
[Last edited Oct 10, 2017 23:52:16]
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817 replies
SteveHanson said Jan 10, 2017 04:14:06
Sorry everyone, it was my understanding from the time the first playtest landed that the second would include character generation.
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To him and the friend of his friend;
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DavidRosson said Jan 10, 2017 05:46:49
The big thought I have is that Extended Tasks seemed a little more complicated than it needed to be. I think putting aside the "damage" element entirely and simply accumulating X successes over multiple attempts would be simpler.

Now that I understand more what was being modeled from prior 2d20 rules (the wound system) I'm wondering if the Extended Task issues is just one of visualization. My thought is that each Extended Task needs a preset list of what each Breakthrough / Effect would be to make things concrete:

Example: Salvaging Parts for the Shuttle (3 Breakthroughs Required)
* 1st Breakthrough: Power cell from crashed terrain rover.
* 2nd Breakthrough: Long insulated cables from the air purifier unit.
* 3rd Breakthrough: Fire resistant plating from the storage module out back.
* 1st Effect: Find Unstable Type 1 Phaser (gets 1 shot and 6D stun, then fries).
* 2nd Effect: Additional +1 Progess.
* 3rd Effect: Find crudely drawn scouting map showing a cave (half of remaining Neanderthals are resting there).
* 4th+ Effect: Additional +1 Progress

This way players have a solid sense that the breakthroughs are what matter and how, and they have a chance at some extras from the effects for pushing for high rather then minimal success. Also as a side effect of the breakthroughs being pre-detailed, a thorough team might be able to have pre-gathered one or more during earlier role play, reducing the test magnitude before entering the task; This will make them feel clever for grabbing future plot coupons on their own.
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Zorbane said Jan 10, 2017 07:09:56
I liked the Extended Tasks for situations where time is of the essence (poison forest and repairing the shuttle) but when people were just sitting around waiting for the task to succeed it felt like just rolling dice and waiting until it was done
AdamColeman said Jan 10, 2017 07:28:12
@David Rosson - Even if that isn't something that goes into future Playtest packets that's definitely something Ill add tio my own notes when designing my own scenarios post-release... or even during the playtest if my players get antsy for more once we have a more complete set of rules :D

That reminds me - so long as we report accurate feedback on the scenarios that are given... do the guys at Modiphius mind if we run our own homebrewed adventures that have no impact on the living campaign or playtest aspects? The obvious answer is 'Once it's in your inbox you can do what you like with it' but I'd rather not assume that :D
Nathan.Dowdell said Jan 10, 2017 10:01:55
As the next pack of rules are liable to be available before the next load of adventures (for a variety of tedious behind-the-scenes reasons), we've included a selection of NPC adversaries that people can use if they want to devise their own missions. Feedback from those is still valuable, because it's still testing the rules.

The idea of "Extended Tasks for situations where time is of the essence" is something that I've worked into the rules for the next pack as well, and something we're bearing in mind for adventures going forwards: they work best in situations where you want to complete them in as few rolls as possible, because there's a cost or consequence in taking too long.
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JohnBrentMacek said Jan 10, 2017 12:24:29
"We've included a selection of NPC adversaries that people can use if they want to devise their own missions. Feedback from those is still valuable, because it's still testing the rules."

Hot diggity. Hopefully this will include baddies of both the Romulan and Klingon variety.
[Last edited Jan 10, 2017 12:24:50]
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ScottB said Jan 10, 2017 13:52:24
3) I did have to make a ruling on something during the session that had me scratching my head... SNIP

@LibrarianNPC - I think what did here was just fine for a spur of the moment judgement. Other examples would be the options found on page 11 of the current rules pack under "Common Uses for Momentum", such as "Create Problem", "Increase Scope of Success", or what I would consider how you handled it "Improve Quality of Success". A lot of those are generally left up to GM approval, but allow for PC's to definitely have some fun and creative moments if they are willing to "pay up" for it :) I think it is brilliant, and so do my players - we all love unorthodox strategies and solutions!
[Last edited Jan 10, 2017 13:52:36]
LibrariaNPC said Jan 10, 2017 18:01:37
I think what did here was just fine for a spur of the moment judgement.

@Scott B: I'm glad to know that I wasn't too far off the mark! I'm coming into this game after a long stint with Fate (Dresden, Core, etc), Cortex Plus (Marvel), FFG's Star Wars line (with a few playtests), and most recently, 7th Sea 2nd Edition as my rotating games based on interest/groups/conventions/tests. After such a block with these games, I really wanted to let the group have some fun with their ideas via narration, and I thought it was the best way to go.

Again, glad to know that others thing/feel the same way and would have ruled it appropriately! Granted, I'd like some insight on a few things such as how much damage things can take (especially since phasering a locked door has come up), but I do appreciate knowing I'm not alone with my approaches.
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ScottB said Jan 10, 2017 18:54:54
Glad I could help! I mean this is all assuming these mechanics aren't altered in the future, but I very much like them as they are. The one I REALLY like is the allowance for PC's to add an element to the scene or story at a cost. One of my PC's gave the Science Outpost an emergency 2-man transporter, made their lives sooo much easier. I probably under charged them in retrospect, but hey - live and learn!

Regarding "doors" and the like, I'll be curious to see if Nathan introduces what we've gotten used to in terms of typical material hit point/damage reduction tables or not. If not, I can kind of see it - I mean the only time I'd ever seen a phaser not help get through something was if it was a type of material resistant to phasers or a nullifying field was in effect. In other words, more often than not I'd say I would only say phaser doesn't work if a complication came up on roll or because I introduced one for plot effect/challenge.

That might be the only "drawback" to the creativity the system allows for players - it means GM's will have to be equally "creative" determining how certain situations play out. Some GM's/Players work better with that than others, who prefer concrete rules. I think it's why we see some of the push back we do.
aramis_erak said Jan 10, 2017 20:05:52
(insert Into Darkness jab here)

And to think, it's the most Trek-like of the JJTrek line...
Just because my shirt is red
does not mean I'll soon be dead.
LibrariaNPC said Jan 10, 2017 20:12:26
That might be the only "drawback" to the creativity the system allows for players - it means GM's will have to be equally "creative" determining how certain situations play out. Some GM's/Players work better with that than others, who prefer concrete rules. I think it's why we see some of the push back we do.

I think that's more a matter of players/GM than the mechanic. I do think that if we get a balance between concrete rules and unbridled creativity (i.e. examples of circumstances such as these), then we'd be in good shape for all parties involved. I get a bit frustrated when the rules are too limiting, but at the same time, not having ground to stand on is a bit of an issue.

Here's hoping we see the next packet soon, because I know I have two tables chomping at the bit for more details!
"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to make a sarcasm font." Lost_Heretic
ScottB said Jan 10, 2017 20:34:24
And to think, it's the most Trek-like of the JJTrek line...

That's because it basically just ripped off some of the best part of the TOS movies and did a crazy mashup to a Beastie Boys track.
Eric Stearns said Jan 12, 2017 00:04:24
and was essentially like a recap of the 1939 world series for a 70's baseball fan.

That may have well been the best summation of that particular book I have ever read...
[Last edited Jan 12, 2017 00:05:15]
avatar said Jan 13, 2017 14:49:07
For reference I have only play tested (and Kickstarted) Conan so have never had the full 2D20 rules system.

Stun - No rules for Stun as per the Neanderthal attacks at the start of the adventure

It was also noted at this point that Phasers did not have a stun setting - This seemed a massive oversight.

Extended Tasks:
The explanation for how these work in the rules provided is very poor. There appears to be 3 factors, A difficulty, a Magnitude and a Progress Track.
For example, "if all the Progress has been marked off before the Task was attempted," not sure how this can happen. The [CD] I presume means on a 1or 2 you generate a progress point, as well as a 5 or 6 generating a progress point (effect point).

It would be better with an example to show how all the moving parts worked as it took a bit of time to explain to players the mechanic.
It also would be more intuitive if on a 5 or 6 it generates Focus progress points. Someone who knows Transporter Tech as there key remit is going to smash a transporter obstacle because of their knowledge.

I would explain it as follows

An Extended Task has 3 elements, the Difficulty (same as a challenge), plus 3 new factors, Magnitude, Progress and Resistance. To compete the Extended Task challenge you must reduce the Progress to 0 or score a number of Breakthroughs (see below) equal to the Magnitude.

An Extended Task begins like any normal challenge, players can use assistance, momentum and threat, however their difficulty tends to be high, usually between 3 and 5.
If a player succeeds the difficulty roll, they then get to reduce the Progress by rolling [CD] as calculated below:

2 [CD]
+ Skill Used [CD]
- Resistance [CD]

On the [CD] as per normal on a success (1 or 2) Progress is reduced by One Point. On an Effect (5 or 6) Progress is reduced by Focus of the skill used or One progress point in no focus. (The Players may not have a focus for an effect bonus, but may put a compelling argument that the way they are performing the Extended Task – perhaps equipment being used, clever science or even tried and tested methodology – in which case allow Progress to be reduced by two points per effect roll. This must be instigated by the players through description and roleplaying.)

Each Momentum can be used to reduce Resistance by 2 or to reduce Progress by one point.

If a Complication is rolled Progress is increased by 4 points.

On an Extended Task if you reduce the Progress by 5 points you achieve a Breakthrough. Each Breakthrough reduces the Difficulty by 1 point. If you score as many Breakthroughs as Magnitude you automatically complete the task.

Our Play Test Game Example
In the Poisonous Plants Obstacle Difficulty 4, Magnitude 3 and Progress 16 (rules say max of 15 btw) it seemed difficult even with assistance and max threat use.

The 4 difficulty is a high requirement and the progress track is very high. So the initial roll was successful, however the [CD] dice mostly rolled 3/4 with only one 2 and one 6 for 2 points off the track. Leaving 14 to go.
That player tried again, more threat used and the difficulty was now 5 (+1 due to ground cover mechanic of this obstacle) and they failed.

Eventually they all had tried made one breakthrough (reducing difficulty) but still had 5 progress to make. I rolled for the characters and 3 were infected. (I introduced a devolution rule see later).

If there are not limitations on the number of rolls then it becomes a boring roll and roll again mechanic. As GM you spice it up, add drama, but effectively it becomes the same roll. You can force change of skills, but invariably this just makes it harder, and suddenly it’s less about skill and ability and more about luck. It may be the initially high difficulty that made this seem a little bit too much of a chore.

I had buckets of it, Players were ripping threat all over the show, and though I used plenty to create obstacles, complications and generally foil some of their plans it felt well none threatening truth be told.

They ended encountering 3 of the panthers just to reduce the threat pool Even at the end after they had fixed the shuttle I had 8+ threat which I used for a final obstacle which they overcame – by generating more threat…..

In combat as players were piling on the threat I was using it to either defend (in melee) or Soak damage, it sort of felt tit for tat.

Using threat to damage players feels as though it takes away some of the neutrality of the GM – there is a decision process and the number of threat used to damage a player, with that number arbitrarily chosen by the GM. Perhaps a specific mechanic in the enemy description, will use X threat on any hit etc.

Using threat for story complications is ok, but again if a player becomes the target it can feel a bit arbitrary. In written Adventures they should include a Threat Dump mechanic – ie, if the Threat Pool hits 20 tokens, then immediately use 8 to start the following sotry complication.

For limiting threat in Star Trek, my initial thoughts are:
Limit the number of threat that can be generated in a round by the PCs.
Limit the number of threat that can be generated by each PC per session.
For each point of threat used the complication level gets higher. Eg 1 threat makes complication 19-20, 2 threat 18-20, 3 threat 17-20.
Every time a PC has utilised 9 Threat his Complications is increased by 1. Eg, Spork has used 12 Threat in the session, he will now score a complication on any D20 roll of 19-20.

This felt very non Start Trek. First of all Phasers – no “Set Phaser’s to Stun Setting”. Essential in this particular adventure as the players instantly realised that the Neanderthals were the scientists, and something had happened, probably related to the storm. We couldn’t find a stun setting so assumed all damage would be non-lethal, and an Effect would Stun them for 1 action.

In Star Trek (Tv / Film) it is more or less one hit one kill, sometimes there are glancing blows and the occasional wound, but getting hit by a phaser was either stunned unconscious or killed. The combat didn’t feel it played that way, seemed a bit slow firing hitting, rolling rubbish [CD] and the mobs shaking off the effect and mashing the players. Red Shirts (Yellow in this edition) has an iconic meaning, that simply was not portrayed.

Phasers should be an “I Win” weapon really if they hit. In the shows/film a lot of the time they miss, so perhaps something to emulate that would work better.
Initial thoughts are if you are hit perhaps make a soak, Difficulty equal to the Damage done to be wounded, else you are dead. Perhaps using a determination counts as a auto save to limit the reroll of characters.

For the hand to hand it was fine, played out well, dirty tactics and hiding and running away were the order of the day. It made cinematic sense, shooting lots of things happen quickly, then it all slows down for the hand to hand battle.

Please keep the language consistent through the game. In the Adventure The Panthers are “Injured to….” Use Immune or explain precisely what you mean.

The Characters:
Zharath (Security)
Martinez (Diplomat)
Newman (Pilot/Engineer)
Sevek (Science)
Patil (Doctor)

Things the players did that was clever
The players identified the scientists on the way in from Star Fleet Database, they also checked what effect the storm was having on the planet and noticed something curious with the flora – and identified that to look into.

On the first encounter they identified the Neanderthals as scientists, and they stunned them. The Doctor made a drug from the on-board shuttle medical supplies that would calm the creatures for a short time, and once they were stunned used it to make them docile then attached security binders.

They took what tech they could easily transport from the shuttle to the base.

They arrived at the science base, quickly set-about securing the base, setting up a secure area for the captured Neanderthals as well fixing up the transporter (which wouldn’t work because of the storm, but may be used internally should they wish). They lured the rest of the Neanderthals into the base with a pheromone, and once they came inside (not all went in), transported them to the secure room which the doctor fed with the calming spray he had made. Once all were captured they set up a security field keeping them all secure whilst they looked at the problem of getting them back to normal etc.

(One of the players argued they could actually devolve them from transporter buffer records – but I said that would need to be done in a safe secure environment, right now they had to sort the problem at hand.)

With the Neanderthals taken care of, they looked into the cure and research (they had successfully brought Dr Schip out of her shell, and worked what problems needed to be solved).
They recovered the materials for the cure, however due to a complication some were damaged so the cure didn’t work. In the first sortie the diplomat was injured by a panther, so on their second run out they took pattern enhancers, relocated the samples and transported back in.

The thing I did as GM that was clever

For the devolution once a player was infected (Newman, Sevek & Martinez originally) every time they rolled a complication it increased there complication range by one. So once the first 20 was rolled, it would go to 19-20, and so on. I explained when they got to 15-20 complication range they would be devolved like the Neanderthals, and it was all over. Martinez got to 16.

I liked the countdown of this mechanic, and I think it could work in many situations where you need a timer. It makes players think on their actions and decisions, do you use threat/momentum to add D20 to the dice pool, more of a chance of a complication, and therefore ticking down the range, the more dice you roll, the higher the chance of a complication which brings you closer to the doom.
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AdamColeman said Jan 13, 2017 14:52:16

Stun - No rules for Stun as per the Neanderthal attacks at the start of the adventure

It was also noted at this point that Phasers did not have a stun setting - This seemed a massive oversight.

All attacks can be stun or lethal unless noted otherwise - chosen by the attacker at the time of the attack. The note in the Neanderthals indicates that they CANNOT be used to stun, but phasers most certainly can. Other weapons that ave no stun setting sare Klingon Disruptors, as noted by the 'Deadly' tag.
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