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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
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Nathan.Dowdell said Feb 17, 2017 15:29:50
To my knowledge, there's no problem with running demos of Star Trek Adventures at conventions - a few people have already signed up to run games at UK Games Expo, for example.

Just make sure we get lots of useful feedback!
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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SteveHanson said Feb 17, 2017 17:04:33
By all means run a playtest at your convention. Are you a SilverShields?
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To his friend a man
a friend shall prove,
To him and the friend of his friend;
But never a man
shall friendship make
With one of his foeman's friends.
--Havamal
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ChrisFougere said Feb 17, 2017 17:19:31
I am not. I'm just a fan of the games who lucked with the play test :)
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SteveHanson said Feb 18, 2017 04:48:43
@Chris, if you join up with our SilverShields program, our demo team, you can get support and rewards for demoing.
Forum Moderator

To his friend a man
a friend shall prove,
To him and the friend of his friend;
But never a man
shall friendship make
With one of his foeman's friends.
--Havamal
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ChrisFougere said Feb 18, 2017 06:31:12
Sweet I will look into that :)
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PeterCoutts said Feb 18, 2017 18:41:52
So just a few thoughts.

I think that the character components need rationalisation.

We have basic attributes,disciplines,focusses,talents,values.

It is too much and confusing and although I await the character generation system with interest I think we need to conflate two or three of these.

I am not sure the momentum/threat economy is a logical fit for this genre-better suited toi agenre with light and dark, good and evil.

Peter
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aramis_erak said Feb 18, 2017 21:57:07
@PeterCoutts - you missed traits.
ignoring all the weapon data...

Attributes - range 7 to 11 on the pregens. Have other mechanical uses besides tasks, too.
Disciplines: range 0-5 on the pregens and adversaries, Have different other mechanical uses besides tasks, too.
Traits: just provide advantages
Values & directives: provide advantages and control discipline gain/spend
Talents: these are mechanical modifiers - conditional extra dice or rerolls
Focuses: these adjust the rate of extra successes

Compare this to D&D 5E
Attributes: range 3-20, nominally 8-20 for PCs. Mostly used in a –1 to +5 modifer derivation.
Skills: Boolean, but give a mechanical bonus of +2 to +6, by level
Class Levels: grant Abilities, attribute improvements, and/or feats. Theoretically possible to have 13 different ones. Practically, seldom more than 2
Character level: used only for determining skill bonus, cantrip damage, and experience cost.
Abilities and Feats: each grants a mechanical change for the character, either giving new powers, or modifying special rules. Difference in name reflects only how they are gained; abilities from class, and feats from feat slot picks.
Derived values: Hit points, Spell Slots, various class specific abilities
Personality: 3 one-liners and a short paragraph.

Or FFG Star Wars
Attributes: numerical, range 1-6
Skills: numerical, range 0-5, and need to be noted if in-class or not.
Career: one of 18 possible (6 per corebook), much overlap.
Specialty: one of 3-6 per career, but can take outside ones. Currently about 70 available in system. affects experience spends
Abilities: Granted by race
Talents: granted by race and/or given by spending on one's specialty tree. Each is a 1 liner to 1 paragraph alteration of the rules.
Force Powers: Similar to Talents, but use a different dice mechanic, and do "magic"
Figured abilities: Wound Threshold, Stress Threshold, Encumbrance Limit
Duty, Obligation, Morality: numberical descriptors used mostly by the GM, with game effects. All characters have one of them, but it's allowed for a character to have all 3... Each also has a descriptor or two that are non-numerical.
Motivation: a one-word that affects experience earned. If you played it, it's bonus XP for you.

STA isn't all that complex by comparison. it's just a matter of learning the meanings. Why'd I pick those two? They're 2 of the top 3 selling RPGs; Pathfinder is mechanically close enough to 5E not to be worth listing, noting that it's not got the personality in the mechanical definitions, and has wider ranges on the numbers. Those three comprise (at present) over 90% of the publicly reported annual sales... Those are the direct competition.

As for threat... It creates a clear sense of tension When visually marked in view of the players. It's not about good versus evil, it's about us versus them.

Just because my shirt is red
does not mean I'll soon be dead.

http://aramis.hostman.us/trek/sta/
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aramis_erak said Apr 03, 2017 17:46:45
In my last session, the task rolls included 5 difficulty 5's, 3x 3's, and a couple 1's... and the only failure was a difficulty 4. Lots of complications, but no outright failures other than the one difficulty 4.

"Epic difficulty" isn't ... it merely generates some threat.

And, no, no more than one helper per action.

5's just not high enough to be labeled "Epic"... Heroic, sure, but not Epic.
Just because my shirt is red
does not mean I'll soon be dead.

http://aramis.hostman.us/trek/sta/
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Nathan.Dowdell said Apr 03, 2017 20:25:02
In my last session, the task rolls included 5 difficulty 5's, 3x 3's, and a couple 1's... and the only failure was a difficulty 4. Lots of complications, but no outright failures other than the one difficulty 4.

"Epic difficulty" isn't ... it merely generates some threat.

And, no, no more than one helper per action.

5's just not high enough to be labeled "Epic"... Heroic, sure, but not Epic.

Are you sure they're not using loaded dice? Because honestly, the results you're talking about seem wildly at odds with my own experiences and other feedback I've gotten. What are they spending their Momentum on? If it's only being saved up and spent on bonus d20s, then the only thing I can suggest is to give them more things to spend it on.

I'm not sure what I can do about this, and each time you post about it, I struggle to find any way I can reasonably take action to resolve it that wouldn't adversely impact people who aren't facing this situation. Fundamentally, there's no harm in increasing the Difficulty above 5 if necessary (I recall suggesting that last time, but I don't recall the response).

Beyond that... is it actually having all that much impact on the adventure? Does their success interfere with anything? Are they generating Complications to overcome in the process? Are the outcomes of their actions interesting? Are they being threatened or challenged by situations that they can't just brute force dice-roll their way through? I don't really have enough information to make an assessment here, so all I can do is speculate.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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aramis_erak said Apr 03, 2017 23:39:25
Yes, it's a problem. "Epic" as a label should be the kind of thing they want to make several prep rolls on to lower the difficulty - and simply put, they don't feel the need. Between seldom having an empty pool, and the rerolls from talents, and the foci being used heavily, and that at 6d20 with a max or near-max PC (11-12 att, +5 Discipline, the expected (Z≥0σ), 5 successes is the expected result mathematically.(and a 25% chance of 1+ complications).

The problem isn't that the difficulty is too easy for the comparison to extant tasks, it's that the scale only goes to 5, and there's no text enabling higher. Which, for litigious D&D players like I've got, that means I cannot just rescale the difficulties... and can't just push difficulties higher with mods, because the task system caps difficulties at 5.

Increasing the threat range with extra helpers past 1+computer has eliminated most of the "Let's gang up on it and make one big roll"... but that is not a GOOD side effect, per se.

The difficulty 5 generates no "Clench Factor" in them. It's merely hard, not at all "Epic"...

And when playtesting, I run pretty litigiously by what I understand the RAW to be.

Also, the dice rolls aren't abnormal... they're getting a good spread, and I'm getting a bunch of threat, but that's not helping with generating a "Damn, that's hard" high-clench-factor feeling - as they're just too able to do it. Sure, it's burning 3 momentum, but without going all psycho on them, I'm having trouble keeping them from rolling the extra dice... because on anything less than a difficulty 4 in field, they can mathematically expect to recoup the 2-3 momentum needed to get 5d20... and there have been several cases where they went ahead and spent the momentum to get a third die on a difficulty 1 in field, to trigger a reroll, and averaged considerably higher than the 1.0 to 1.1 successes per die... and that's mathematically correct. (Rerolling a failure on a A11 D5 task raises the expectation from 1.05 S per D to 1.3125 S per D... 5d20 is an expected 5.25 successes in-focus, and if there's a reroll, it's 6.56 successes expected.)

Lack of significant failure chances IS a problem. Especially for competitive type rules-players.

I'm not denying it to be a playstyle issue - they've complained indirectly that peak difficulty isn't hard enough.
And that's because they have no fear of difficulty 5.
Just because my shirt is red
does not mean I'll soon be dead.

http://aramis.hostman.us/trek/sta/
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ChrisFougere said Apr 03, 2017 23:56:37
I've never had a task of Difficulty 5. I think I may have had a 4 once...maybe. Most of my tasks tend to be on the lower end of things but my players are fine with that. Star Trek should never be about <if> the PCs succeed, it should be the story of <how> they succeed. What's the narrative of the five "5"s and the three "3"s? What brought the PCs to those points and how did they overcome the tasks (beyond spent momentum, rolled dice)?

In the source material, how often do the characters outright fail? Not often. They suffer some setbacks (Complications and Threat spends) but at the end of things they have succeeded at their task (barring the occasional cliff-hanger).

Star Trek is competency porn and the stories are far more interesting when it's about how the characters succeed, not if they succeed. The story that gets told at our table time and again in relation to the playtest isn't about that time someone boned a roll or got 7 Momentum on a single roll (yeah...that happened), it's about the time that T'Pren went against her Vulcan upbringing and threw caution to the wind and restarted a Warp Core in just twenty minutes instead of following proper protocol.

That's what my group feels the game emulates really well and why we enjoy the hell out of it. We get to tell our own stories with characters that are just as competent as Kirk, Spock, McCoy etc.
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Elijah said Apr 04, 2017 00:14:20
@aramis_erak
So, on a D1 Task the PC will use a Talent to Reroll when purchasing Momentum in order to bank more Momentum?
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Nathan.Dowdell said Apr 04, 2017 00:48:50
@aramis_erak
How much Momentum, proportionately, do they save after a successful Task? If they're saving most or all of it every time, and seldom have an empty Momentum pool, then the issue may be that there isn't sufficient pressure on them to use Momentum for anything other than buying dice.

That aside, you have my express permission to use difficulties above 5. Consider it focus testing, looking for specific, targeted feedback - I'm interested to see the outcome here.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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aramis_erak said Apr 04, 2017 09:13:43
@ elijah - yes. If they can spend one momentum to trigger a reroll being available, they will, and any fails will get rerolled.

All of them looked at the common tasks, and maxed out the attributes linked to them, and their primary discipline. (None have Sec 1, tho' - they all wanted it at 3+... and made it happen.)

@ Nathan - typically, they bank as much as they used unless I'm setting difficulties of 5. Then they still, thanks to the > 0.5 expected successes on the ship die and/or help die, still bank 1-2. We've seen 9S hit the table once... but that was with dogpiling on the task, damn-the-torpedoes, going all out to wipe out a D'Deridex. They spent right down to 6... then stopped.

They avoid spending momentum to hold the initiative, unless they're outnumbered.

The fastest drain I can put on their momentum is making them dodge. They don't usually spend for extra minor actions unless they want to move after a combat action, in which case it's usually a way to spend the use-or-lose over 6.

They're spending a lot of momentum - but they're earning as much as they are spending.

Last session, they asked one question on a Diff 2... dropped 1 of their 5 momentum on it, and rolled 5 successes... (counting the sensor + science die from the ship, and one help at 10+4). total 5 dice down, 5 successes rolled. Flat average... including a complication... given the skill levels involved. (ship was the Thunderchild, just for reference.) 9 momentum on the table, 3 must-spend - and spent down to 6. By asking good, on-point, drive the story from the details extra questions from that sensor roll.

They're min-maxers. I'm a rules-lawyer by inclination - but I'm mostly over it outside of playtesting. And it shows by how they work the momentum. I can't prove it, but they all play as if they've read John Wick's "Play Dirty"... and yes, all of them have GMing experience with other games. (I'm hoping one or the other will take a shot at running an episode so I can play my Counselor.)

Also, they are not afraid of failure - Ben said last week, at D&D encounters, "Without failure, success is meaningless." (We were talking D&D at the time, but it holds true here.) He also pointed out to a new player that, "when a GM kills my character, yeah, I'm ticked for a few minutes... but next session, I'm past the mourning for the character, and excited to try the new one..." They've all made comments about that real sense of risk being tied to actual risk to their characters. And that risk of loss of a character is a part of the fun.

I don't know that they have done the math — I know *I* have — but I do know they've either calculated or intuited that they're getting 1 success per die more than half the time.

They did crunch the numbers on Character Gen reflexively. That's how they approach D&D, too. But D&D, the numbers are a little more complex to work with - so they aren't as hot on the edge of hypercompetence in D&D.






Just because my shirt is red
does not mean I'll soon be dead.

http://aramis.hostman.us/trek/sta/
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ScottB said Apr 04, 2017 15:53:17
@aramis_erak - I for one absolutely understand what you are saying: your players have taken the RAW and OPTIMIZED their characters and play style to minimize all risk and challenge. Now that might seem like some kind of insult, but it's really not. I totally get it - for a lot of RPGers the fun is in the puzzle or math if you will. Figuring out just the right combination of factors to steamroll a situation and get that feeling of "I beat it/you". That's why some people love Puzzle games, or Tactical games - like me. I'm sure most people have known an RPGer like that - sounds like you have an entire group!

The problem is some games are designed so that doing what your players (and you?) enjoy doing (and who is anyone to tell them how to fun?) perhaps takes more time due to heavy or complicated rule structure. Sounds like your players have taken one of core components (at least as I see it) in how this game was set up, re: it's flexibility, and found very simple combinations to make it very "easy".

I'd be super curious to sit in on one of your sessions, however that is likely completely unrealistic (unless you live nearby in Canada lol). What I might suggest is recording one of your sessions for Nathan and the team (if Nathan is interested) so he can specifically see what is happening. The math you have been showing us only tells part of the story, as others have said. Yes, we can see that the percentages of a specific roll have lead to x successes. But perhaps there is a portion of the game rules you aren't making use of enough. Perhaps there is a way to tweak your GM style to make your players less "comfortable" in their RPG by the numbers style - thus hopefully leading to them seeing a new challenge to conquer. Perhaps you've been doing everything exactly right and they still went all The Martian on the rulebook lol.

I'd wager there is more that could be done with the current ruleset to make the game more challenging for your players, as Nathan has repeatedly indicated. Because yes, your math absolutely adds up. So then YOU need to figure out ways to make sure your players don't have access to all their different ways of obtaining 5 dice + 1 for ship + 1-4 helpers or whatever combination they deem to use. Like I said, if you and your group would be willing I'd bet Nathan would be supremely interested in seeing the lead up and aftermath of one of these 10 die rolls or 9 success outcomes that's happening in your games on a (semi?)regular occurrence.

I'd be interested too for that matter.

EDIT - failing a video upload or log of some kind, perhaps even uploading their characters sheets? Perhaps there is a way in which they've designed their characters that is simply too broad? Focuses and Values can be hard to nail down exactly what is the right balance - even something as simply as taking away regular Focus use can make rolls harder, I'm sure you'd agree.
[Last edited Apr 04, 2017 16:00:23]
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