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Added Flavor (Species Traits)

posted Apr 05, 2018 04:27:53 by wulfram91
I have read through the rules and find the system overall interesting, and simple (which is good) but ive house ruled and changed a few things to my liking. Many ship properties, harsher combat, etc

But smaller changes than my usual retooling of systems so I actually have alot of good to say about Modiphious here.

That said one of my gripes is with how species are handled. Of course I see why they did it they way they did, you dont want situations where theres just bo reason not to pick another species over another purely because of the stats bonuses. And Yet in lore and in reality it is exactly true that their are differences in species and those differences matter.

The most apparent grievance for me in the core book was Vulcans who because of the generic approach to species differentiation dont really appear to be very vulcan to me. At least not in comparison to say humans.

Vulcans are stronger than humans (enough in lore so that any vulcan vs human melee is decidedly in the vulcans favor, something thats not duplicated with these rules) They are also far more likely to stay cool under pressure due to their emotionally controlled existence and reliance on logic, which is kind of what the Talent 'Kolinahr' in the book covers but this should really just generally apply to all Vulcans.At least if you wanted more 'lore' accurate and less generic vulcans.

What im thinking of doing is making the species trait that each species gets add these major bonus or negatives that the race might have in lore.

for example Vulcans: You reduce the difficulty of all tasks to resist coercion, mental intrusion, pain, and other mental attacks by one. In addition when testing in tasks that involve physical strength such as moving objects or attacking in melee add one extra d20 to your pool.

What are your guys thoughts on this? Do you like the idea, do you hate it? if either why?

and if you have any ideas for more flavourful species traits please share :)
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15 replies
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Deadmanwalking said Apr 05, 2018 04:34:06
Um...using species traits to reduce difficulty by one when appropriate is in the official rules.

Vulcan, for example, can indeed officially be used to reduce the difficulty of resisting most mental attacks by 1. It can definitely also be used in contests of raw strength in exactly the same way (probably including keeping someone in a grapple). The only part not official in what you're suggesting is adding a die to melee combat, which does indeed seem excessive, IMO. Besides which I think Vulcans do fine in melee combat already (Nerve Pinch is a scary as hell Talent).
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wulfram91 said Apr 05, 2018 05:12:01
It is infered that species traits can be used that way in re readig yes. But I dont think its very well establsihed in those rules what effects certain species should have. So in this case maybe think of my rules as more of a guidline on what those species trait bonuses are.

Nerve pinch is scary (however in my house rules melee is pretty hard to even get to, ranged is so deadly, im not overly concerned about it)

You mention an example of having the vulcan have an easier time in a grapple, if so how? I mean I used the example of adding a D20 and you used lowering difficulty for resist coercion but are those things not fairly similiar in game mechanics terms?

I mean what would youre bonus to Grapple be? and would you not also give them a bonus to things like melee damage? is getting hit by something that is much stronger than a human not more damaging than getting hit by a human (assuming a same or similiar security)? what are your thoughts on this?
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briandavion1982 said Apr 05, 2018 07:11:42
one thing to keep in mind is the rules in STA are very soft. Don't look at the game as a hard written tatical simulation
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StephenBirks said Apr 05, 2018 08:11:26
Melee is not all about physical strength and a strong combatant does not necessarily have an advantage to connect a hit. You could argue that it would increase damage though. Specifically the system does not have a Strength stat as it is too narrow in scope for a the system, which is abstract. Strength would be a factor of Fitness (which in D&D terms would also include Dexterity and Constitution).

I would also suggest that your new "trait" is actually a Talent. Traits favour the generic whereas Talents favour the specific. As such this is a rather powerful talent as it effectively grants benefits of 2 talents.

A common factor I have seen amongst people such as yourself when making these changes (and this is by no means an attempt to disparage you, it is your game, play it as you will), there is a noted attempt to make this game more "D&D" like, such as your harsher combat and then greater crunch to stats and abilities.

I would put to you that this system is purposefully the way it is because the system exists to support the story, it is not the driver for it. This is the purpose of the Attributes, Disciplines and traits being a lot more generic so as you, the player, are not bogged down in the minutia of crunch thereby halting the game and preventing the story from progressing.

By far my major complaint about D&D that finally made me abandon it in favour of STA was that it things were too specific (5e not as bad as 3e, but even so!) and the only purpose was to fight, the story took a back seat to the rolling of dice (and I detest random encounters. they exist purely to prevent the narrative from moving forward).

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jonrcrew said Apr 05, 2018 09:59:28
This is actually something I've noticed in a lot of games: granting a bonus for this kind of thing is pretty much only of interest to players who want to emphasise that element - and will pick attributes that do this anyway. It then means the bonus exaggerates it excessively, or depending on the system (ie point buy), is moot anyway.

In this instance, I would argue that the greater strength isn't utilised by the majority of Vulcans, who are pacifist and tend to keep themselves under control. Those instances where it is important are then roleplayed appropriately, or treated as an appropriate Advantage. Similarly for the mental discipline.
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Nathan.Dowdell said Apr 05, 2018 16:23:12
Actually, from a design standpoint, the biggest difficulty with this is that, for a lot of species, we have so little information on them that actually defining a hard list of special abilities is next to impossible. I did explore that approach. The second biggest problem is that Vulcans don't really have all that many flaws or weaknesses.

The softer approach (attribute bonuses, a Trait, and access to a few species-specific talents) is truer to the shows - species seldom introduces disparities between characters except when those differences are emphasised, and they often have minor or incidental abilities which we only learn about when it comes up as a plot point in an episode. We didn't know that Vulcans had an inner eyelid to protect against bright light until it became relevant in TOS, or that Trill have a serious allergy to insect bites until Jadzia was in a situation when it mattered. This is because, well, Star Trek wasn't written as an RPG, and a lot of the details were only ever devised in those specific episodes.

The Trait itself covers a lot of that "nebulous abilities big and small", as well as the fact that the differences between species are only depicted occasionally (how often is Spock actually depicted as being three times stronger than a human? It's only a handful of episodes of TOS). It's a normal Trait in all senses, so it can increase or decrease Task difficulty by +/-1, and it can make Tasks possible that wouldn't otherwise be, or make them impossible if they might be possible normally. In my own campaign, I've allowed Vulcan characters to attempt feats of physical strength that a human couldn't achieve alone (the Vulcan trait giving permission), to give an example. That's why there's a paragraph of the sorts of things - physical, mental, and cultural - that a Trait might impact with each species entry.

The trick, as the GM, is making use of that flexibility. And embracing the incidental creativity when you come across weird situations (in the vein of "Oh, Spock's not affected by the M-113 creature's salt-draining attacks, because Vulcans have almost no Sodium Chloride in their bodies" or "Oh, Denobulans aren't affected by Orion pheromones like humans are; it triggers their hibernation impulse instead, so they get drowsy").
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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wulframarmoury said Apr 05, 2018 19:14:17
This is still Wulfram91, just using the account on my computer.
For Reference
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY9NkYGUEyE#action=share

@briandavion1982
"one thing to keep in mind is the rules in STA are very soft. Don't look at the game as a hard written tactical simulation"
Yes I actually like the simplicity of the system. I would not say its a tactical simulation nor am I really trying to make it one :)

@StephenBirks
"Melee is not all about physical strength and a strong combatant does not necessarily have an advantage to connect a hit. You could argue that it would increase damage though."
This is a good point I didnt necessarily think about, so while if your character is performing a task that uses strength like lifting a very heavy object you might lower the difficulty or get an extra d20 they wouldn't necessarily get one in melee. But they most definitely would get a bonus to damage in melee

"I would also suggest that your new "trait" is actually a Talent. Traits favour the generic whereas Talents favour the specific. As such this is a rather powerful talent as it effectively grants benefits of 2 talents."
I agree that in terms of game mechanics my ideas are straight forwardly traits or talents and might fit into one category better than another. Im less interested into which category they fit and moreso the actual in game results of those mechanics.

"A common factor I have seen amongst people such as yourself when making these changes (and this is by no means an attempt to disparage you, it is your game, play it as you will), there is a noted attempt to make this game more "D&D" like, such as your harsher combat and then greater crunch to stats and abilities."
Im not sure what you mean by that, im not trying to make the system more D&D like, ive only ever played that system twice and I disliked it immensely both times. If anything im in overall terms going the opposite direction XD I mean perhaps im wrong but I dont think that D&D has very harsh combat. Nor within the scope of RPGs do I think it has much 'crunch' things like GURPS or Mythras RPGs can be far crunchier and in the case of Mythras far more 'harsh'

"I would put to you that this system is purposefully the way it is because the system exists to support the story, it is not the driver for it. This is the purpose of the Attributes, Disciplines and traits being a lot more generic so as you, the player, are not bogged down in the minutia of crunch thereby halting the game and preventing the story from progressing."
I agree with your first point, Im not sure I agree with your latter point. It has been pointed out by Deadman that Species Traits are essentially supposed to do what I discuss here but that ultimately their benefits are to be decided by the GM based on situation. Which is fine but they are very specific things, they are very broad descriptions of a species totality. If its up to the player to know this and then try to persuade the GM of the species benefits based on this trait every time an applicable
situation arises instead of a better guideline of those rules. Like a bonus to melee damage youre actually going to get more 'halting' as a discussion is matted out.

"By far my major complaint about D&D that finally made me abandon it in favour of STA was that it things were too specific (5e not as bad as 3e, but even so!) and the only purpose was to fight, the story took a back seat to the rolling of dice (and I detest random encounters. they exist purely to prevent the narrative from moving forward)."
Again youve brought up D&D here when ive made no mention of it and its not about the topic. Ive made no allusions to making the system an only fight system or random encounters, and if ive given you the impression im only interested in 'combat modifiers' for species specific traits that is not the case.

@jonrcrew
"This is actually something I've noticed in a lot of games: granting a bonus for this kind of thing is pretty much only of interest to players who want to emphasise that element - and will pick attributes that do this anyway. It then means the bonus exaggerates it excessively, or depending on the system (ie point buy), is moot anyway.
Yea if youre talking about about power gaming I agree adding in what im talking about could lead to that in some pretty significant ways, and I hate power gaming but you can never get rid of it entirely. Really what you want to do is have a candid conversation with your players about what they and you want in the RPG, im always about narrative and dont suffer or like power gaming but some people really want that in a game. They just wouldnt want to play in one of mine :)

In this instance, I would argue that the greater strength isn't utilised by the majority of Vulcans, who are pacifist and tend to keep themselves under control. Those instances where it is important are then roleplayed appropriately, or treated as an appropriate Advantage. Similarly for the mental discipline."
Sure, but what someone doesnt decide to do isnt the same as what someone can do. I refer you to the above youtube video of spock bending a metal baton and throwing Kirk around like a ragdoll. Just because he wouldnt normally do that doesnt mean he cant. Which is sounds like you agree with, with your second part. So I would say that im just trying to make a more well defined set of circumstance where this is applicable and then to decide what exactly those bonuses are, especially for consistency.

@Nathan.Dowdell
"Actually, from a design standpoint, the biggest difficulty with this is that, for a lot of species, we have so little information on them that actually defining a hard list of special abilities is next to impossible. I did explore that approach. The second biggest problem is that Vulcans don't really have all that many flaws or weaknesses."
Yea I mostly agree, I work with the Star Trek New Horizons mod team and ive had to look into star trek species extensively (specifically for traits). And one of the interesting things is how homogenized they are, mostly everyone is a very similar humanoid type creature, which gives star trek both some of its charm but also limits it in a way. I also aggree as I stated in my original post that some species will just be better than others in a 'power gaming' sense. But thats the lore and how it is, I dont want to dumb down certain species in the lore to make things more of a playing field for everyone, to me that lessons the overall RPG experience. But thats something players and GMs will have to decide upon.

"The softer approach (attribute bonuses, a Trait, and access to a few species-specific talents) is truer to the shows - species seldom introduces disparities between characters except when those differences are emphasised, and they often have minor or incidental abilities which we only learn about when it comes up as a plot point in an episode. We didn't know that Vulcans had an inner eyelid to protect against bright light until it became relevant in TOS, or that Trill have a serious allergy to insect bites until Jadzia was in a situation when it mattered. This is because, well, Star Trek wasn't written as an RPG, and a lot of the details were only ever devised in those specific episodes."
Basically this just boils down to consistency, I like to have very good internal consistency in my games, to help with immersion and role play. If you want to emphasize different traits depending on the 'episode' of the game you and your players are in that is definitely your prerogative but when I tell my players they are interacting with Wadi Ambassadors or Fighting Klingon warriors they know exactly what to expect. (assuming they know the species or have run into them before)
I mean again though Vulcan strength is pretty well established in lore, I refer you to the above video.

"The Trait itself covers a lot of that "nebulous abilities big and small", as well as the fact that the differences between species are only depicted occasionally (how often is Spock actually depicted as being three times stronger than a human? It's only a handful of episodes of TOS). It's a normal Trait in all senses, so it can increase or decrease Task difficulty by +/-1, and it can make Tasks possible that wouldn't otherwise be, or make them impossible if they might be possible normally. In my own campaign, I've allowed Vulcan characters to attempt feats of physical strength that a human couldn't achieve alone (the Vulcan trait giving permission), to give an example. That's why there's a paragraph of the sorts of things - physical, mental, and cultural - that a Trait might impact with each species entry."
Its well established in every star trek series that Vulcans are 3 to 5 times stronger than a man. Wether you see that on screen, yes mostly in TOS both the series and the new movies. There is probably a few other minor scenes but im not recalling them atm. Sure but I would say its to nebulous, to open to interpretation. For instance do you think Vulcans should get a bonus to melee damage? If not why not?

The trick, as the GM, is making use of that flexibility. And embracing the incidental creativity when you come across weird situations (in the vein of "Oh, Spock's not affected by the M-113 creature's salt-draining attacks, because Vulcans have almost no Sodium Chloride in their bodies" or "Oh, Denobulans aren't affected by Orion pheromones like humans are; it triggers their hibernation impulse instead, so they get drowsy").
Well you might not know these things as the GM (if you havent seen the incidental trek episode) like spoke not having enough sodium in his blood. That is not mentioned in his trait nor is their copper based blood. Which is fine as a GM if you want to do the setting justice youre gonna have to do some research. I mean flexibility is good and the attributes are for instance very flexible. But there can be a point where flexibility at least in my opinion goes to far and you dont have any consistency because youre just pulling something out of your butt. This would become very apparent with this system if you try to make really quite alien, aliens. Something not humanoid and not really like other species. Youre basically going to have to make a set of special rules just to encapsulate that thing which is a weakness of the system in my opinion. Its a range issue. I digress thats probably more depth than wanted in this conversation anyway. As a GM to I assume another GM its just about how you want to run your games :)
[Last edited Apr 05, 2018 19:20:57]
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jonrcrew said Apr 06, 2018 08:29:34
Which is fine as a GM if you want to do the setting justice youre gonna have to do some research. I mean flexibility is good and the attributes are for instance very flexible. But there can be a point where flexibility at least in my opinion goes to far and you dont have any consistency because youre just pulling something out of your butt.


Welcome to the world of Star Trek canon... :)

Seriously, I was not accusing you of being a power-gamer, but, despite your protestations, you do seem to value some level of "crunch". If you've been working with some level of MOO system, that makes sense - you have to be aware of these things in advance so that they can be built into the system. D&D and its ilk (especially since 3e) also take this approach (full disclosure - I like 5e), while 2d20, and especially STA, is designed to be flexible and let the GM judge on a case-by-case basis (more like FATE). I've found this difficult to get used to as I've moved from more complex games to the lighter systems like this and 7th Sea 2e, but I'm finding that it gives me a lot of freedom these days.

If consistency is an issue, you could create a list of situations and your judgments as you go. I'm lucky to have players who I trust and are capable of tracking these things themselves. It also helps that I'm a longtime Trekkie and do know the source material extremely well :)

Oh, and something that might also help on the consistency front: I've always framed my Trek games as a new series in the franchise, rather than a simulation of the future. I emphasise standard writing tropes, use technobabble, describe odd scenes that the players aren't involved in and try to plan around the Three Act Model. Guest stars make appearances, and episodes have definitive beginnings and ends, even in serial format. Why am I mentioning this? Inconsistencies become more acceptable, since writers always make mistakes on tv shows...

As a GM to I assume another GM its just about how you want to run your games :)

Actually, Nathan's the designer!
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StephenBirks said Apr 06, 2018 11:41:14
Im not sure what you mean by that, im not trying to make the system more D&D like, ive only ever played that system twice and I disliked it immensely both times. If anything im in overall terms going the opposite direction XD I mean perhaps im wrong but I dont think that D&D has very harsh combat. Nor within the scope of RPGs do I think it has much 'crunch' things like GURPS or Mythras RPGs can be far crunchier and in the case of Mythras far more 'harsh'


By "D&D" like I mean the mentality that persists that everything must be quantifiable. I use D&D as the benchmark because, being both the first proper RPG and the most popularly played, it sets a standard. I cannot comment on GURPS and Mythras. Most of my D&D experience comes from the 3.x edition and combat was relatively harsh. 4e and 5e have softened the blow somewhat.

Again youve brought up D&D here when ive made no mention of it and its not about the topic. Ive made no allusions to making the system an only fight system or random encounters, and if ive given you the impression im only interested in 'combat modifiers' for species specific traits that is not the case.


My opinion here should have followed directly from the previous statement. My point was that in "D&D" like systems the system "crunch" trumps story "fluff". That is a personal distaste of mine and whilst I went off topic a little, it serves to reinforce my point of STA and Traits not being "crunchy" (and the pitfalls of a "crunch" heavy - combat orientated system) - You asked for an opinion. Personally I do not like your idea of narrowing the focus of Traits and this is my takeaway from making such things "crunchier".

I accept that you are not specifically interested in combat modifiers but as presented your proposed trait is almost wholly confined to combat. Coupled with your statement about combat being harsher is it any surprise the impression that is given?

As @Joncrew said you value "crunch", which is absolutely fine, but no - I do not like your idea as I feel it changes the nature of the Trait system, but if that's what you want for your game - go for it.


[Last edited Apr 06, 2018 11:42:31]
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Nathan.Dowdell said Apr 06, 2018 23:07:19
Its well established in every star trek series that Vulcans are 3 to 5 times stronger than a man. Wether you see that on screen, yes mostly in TOS both the series and the new movies. There is probably a few other minor scenes but im not recalling them atm. Sure but I would say its to nebulous, to open to interpretation. For instance do you think Vulcans should get a bonus to melee damage? If not why not?

Here's my point, though: in the episodes where Spock isn't throwing people around or crushing computer monitors, is his strength relevant? Spock isn't defined by his strength... it's a quirk of his nature as a Vulcan, which appears on-screen primarily in situations where he has lost control of his emotions.

But the thing is, raw physical strength is seldom a major factor in Star Trek. There are rarely challenges that can only be overcome by being stronger than the other guy (indeed, quite the opposite - there are problems where strength alone cannot prevail), and even in melee, strength means surprisingly little. Spock, for all that he's as strong as three humans, tends to solve problems by thinking, not by punching or breaking things, and even in hand-to-hand, unless he's gripped by uncontrollable emotion, he uses a swift and clinical nerve pinch instead of striking his opponents.

Strength is only occasionally relevant. It is, in the context of Star Trek, an incidental ability.

For melee damage... no, I wouldn't grant a bonus. For a start, it would conflict with the Nerve Pinch ability (which isn't reliant on strength at all), and more to the point... nobody's melee damage is based on strength: damage with weapons is based on skill (you get bonus damage dice equal to your Security score, you don't get any bonus from having a high Fitness score).

But there can be a point where flexibility at least in my opinion goes to far and you dont have any consistency because youre just pulling something out of your butt.

That's the Star Trek way of doing things! Especially in TOS, where everything was new, everything was episodic, and no episode ever referred back to a previous one.

Star Trek is a setting where a significant number of stories are resolved through a feat of technobabble that is never spoken of again, and where a character's capabilities are only really known about when they become relevant to the story, rather than being written in stone from the very beginning.

Star Trek Adventures is, by design (and I should know, I designed the rules), meant to err more on the side of telling Star Trek stories, with all the flexibility that entails, than it is attempting to simulate the world of Star Trek (an approach which often ends up deconstructing Star Trek's themes). You're welcome, and encouraged, to tailor the system to your tastes... but be warned that beyond a certain point, you're probably better off starting with a more simulationist system, if only to save yourself the effort.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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wulframarmoury said Apr 07, 2018 01:03:19
Welcome to the world of Star Trek canon... :)

Seriously, I was not accusing you of being a power-gamer, but, despite your protestations, you do seem to value some level of "crunch". If you've been working with some level of MOO system, that makes sense - you have to be aware of these things in advance so that they can be built into the system. D&D and its ilk (especially since 3e) also take this approach (full disclosure - I like 5e), while 2d20, and especially STA, is designed to be flexible and let the GM judge on a case-by-case basis (more like FATE). I've found this difficult to get used to as I've moved from more complex games to the lighter systems like this and 7th Sea 2e, but I'm finding that it gives me a lot of freedom these days.
If consistency is an issue, you could create a list of situations and your judgments as you go. I'm lucky to have players who I trust and are capable of tracking these things themselves. It also helps that I'm a longtime Trekkie and do know the source material extremely well :)
Oh, and something that might also help on the consistency front: I've always framed my Trek games as a new series in the franchise, rather than a simulation of the future. I emphasize standard writing tropes, use technobabble, describe odd scenes that the players aren't involved in and try to plan around the Three Act Model. Guest stars make appearances, and episodes have definitive beginnings and ends, even in serial format. Why am I mentioning this? Inconsistencies become more acceptable, since writers always make mistakes on tv shows...

Never said you were accusing me of that :) I do value some 'crunch' I mean all RPGs, or at least most I know of are on a spectrum of using some math to establish results. Sometimes I like really intense stuff other times no, more recently I like more simple systems that have at their core more flexibility and a faster pace. In this regard I actually think this game is most similar to FFGs Star wars system, it has many similarities and wouldn't be surprised if Nathan used it as inspiration.
What is a MOO system? There seem to be many people who want to compare to D&D, I really am not familiar with that system at all, neither am I familiar with FATE or generally D20 systems actually.
Lol, thinking of inconsistencies in that way is certainly humorous, I probably wouldnt be able to stop myself from breaking the 4th wall at your table "Jerries Makeup isnt on point today is it captain!!" Its going to be interesting to decide how to GM a star trek Game, there are so many options. You could as you have done do a episodic TV approach with guest stars :) I wonder if youre older or more a fan of TOS then? Or you could do a more DS9 style campaign with a continuous building narrative. perhaps a war but still with episodic elements. Or discovery which was straight up continuous interconnected narrative.

By "D&D" like I mean the mentality that persists that everything must be quantifiable. I use D&D as the benchmark because, being both the first proper RPG and the most popularly played, it sets a standard. I cannot comment on GURPS and Mythras. Most of my D&D experience comes from the 3.x edition and combat was relatively harsh. 4e and 5e have softened the blow somewhat.

Yea I mean I have so little experience with D&D that I cannot even begin to form an opinion here. Ive never read the rules but the once or twice I played it I recall it being very clunky from my perspective. Ill have to take your word for it about the specifics though. Im not sure I know what you mean by everything being quantifiable? But I mean I come from a background of pretty math heavy war game simulations, that might put me more in that category? salt to taste? XD


My opinion here should have followed directly from the previous statement. My point was that in "D&D" like systems the system "crunch" trumps story "fluff". That is a personal distaste of mine and whilst I went off topic a little, it serves to reinforce my point of STA and Traits not being "crunchy" (and the pitfalls of a "crunch" heavy - combat orientated system) - You asked for an opinion. Personally I do not like your idea of narrowing the focus of Traits and this is my takeaway from making such things "crunchier".
I accept that you are not specifically interested in combat modifiers but as presented your proposed trait is almost wholly confined to combat. Coupled with your statement about combat being harsher is it any surprise the impression that is given?
As @Joncrew said you value "crunch", which is absolutely fine, but no - I do not like your idea as I feel it changes the nature of the Trait system, but if that's what you want for your game - go for it.

Umm well again I cant comment on the D&D example, I just dont know the system sorry. But I mean fluff should always trump 'crunch'. Crunch is just a tool that is used to explore and define the story. Im not sure I understand your criticism there, could you give me a specific example of how you think for instance a better defined reading of what certain species traits would do (for instance adding melee damage in the case of vulcans) to have crunch trump fluff?
Another thing is perhaps im not explaining myself very well, I dont want to 'narrow the focus' of species traits. If anything I want to expand them. I mean right now the only bonus they can convey without adjusting the rules (unless im reading something wrong) is a lowering or increasing of the task difficulty (you couldn't actually by the text increase melee damage)
Crunch is being thrown around alot! XD I mean thats a spectrum right? how much math do you want, I dont think the things im discussing here are really major in terms of fluidity at all.
Im sorry if the impression I gave you is one of concern only for combat. I only currently have the main rulebook and so can only give examples from those aliens, the one poping out to me the most is Vulcans. But I could see this being an issue with anything that strays further away from the normal humanoid model. Like Tholians, Changlings, Sheliak, etc

Here's my point, though: in the episodes where Spock isn't throwing people around or crushing computer monitors, is his strength relevant? Spock isn't defined by his strength... it's a quirk of his nature as a Vulcan, which appears on-screen primarily in situations where he has lost control of his emotions.
But the thing is, raw physical strength is seldom a major factor in Star Trek. There are rarely challenges that can only be overcome by being stronger than the other guy (indeed, quite the opposite - there are problems where strength alone cannot prevail), and even in melee, strength means surprisingly little. Spock, for all that he's as strong as three humans, tends to solve problems by thinking, not by punching or breaking things, and even in hand-to-hand, unless he's gripped by uncontrollable emotion, he uses a swift and clinical nerve pinch instead of striking his opponents.
Strength is only occasionally relevant. It is, in the context of Star Trek, an incidental ability.
For melee damage... no, I wouldn't grant a bonus. For a start, it would conflict with the Nerve Pinch ability (which isn't reliant on strength at all), and more to the point... nobody's melee damage is based on strength: damage with weapons is based on skill (you get bonus damage dice equal to your Security score, you don't get any bonus from having a high Fitness score).

Yea I admit that based on your system because strength (fitness) doesn't contribute to damage that it would therefore not make sense for a stronger being to do more damage (Perhaps I am being too much like a Vulcan in trying to logic that out)
Still I disagree with the first part completely, just because something in not relevant in that specific context at that moment doesn't mean that its not the way it is, or worth knowing. Especially in the confines of a role playing game where the players arent restricted in their actions.

I didn't realize until Jon pointed out either that you were the lead designer. happy to see you participating in the forums. Perhaps I can assuage myself then by asking some questions.
Apologies if this is covered in the books that arent physically for sale yet (I live in America and am waiting for the physical copies because I am poor XD)
Are you planing on releasing some kind of alien creation system? maybe something more in depth than the NPC creation in the core book?
If it isnt already out there somewhere, and can say, how do you intend to make rules for the truly alien species in star trek? or the ones that maybe are furthest from 'regular humanoids' again things like Tholians, sheliak, Changlings? is it just going to be special rules in the same vein as the borg or? just interested in your thoughts on that.

That's the Star Trek way of doing things! Especially in TOS, where everything was new, everything was episodic, and no episode ever referred back to a previous one.
Star Trek is a setting where a significant number of stories are resolved through a feat of technobabble that is never spoken of again, and where a character's capabilities are only really known about when they become relevant to the story, rather than being written in stone from the very beginning.
Star Trek Adventures is, by design (and I should know, I designed the rules), meant to err more on the side of telling Star Trek stories, with all the flexibility that entails, than it is attempting to simulate the world of Star Trek (an approach which often ends up deconstructing Star Trek's themes). You're welcome, and encouraged, to tailor the system to your tastes... but be warned that beyond a certain point, you're probably better off starting with a more simulationist system, if only to save yourself the effort.

Yes, they dont do things like TOS anymore though do they :P
Im a bit younger, I grew up on voyager, I just started watching TOS with my step father though and its actually way more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be.
Well I would just say that having a little more depth, especially for the sake of exploring differences (A theme of star trek!) is mutually exclusive with a more simulationist view, or what youre talking about here :)

As well Id like to point out that I really like your system overall. I think this is more about tweaking it to fit my taste more than anything :)
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jonrcrew said Apr 07, 2018 10:36:54
What is a MOO system? There seem to be many people who want to compare to D&D, I really am not familiar with that system at all, neither am I familiar with FATE or generally D20 systems actually.


Ok...

I'm using MOO as shorthand for what used to be called called MOORPs or MUDs - big online computerised multiplayer roleplaying games that I have little experience of (I don't have the time!). I'm thinking Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, Skyrim etc. Your New Frontiers thing seems to fall into that category.

Lol, thinking of inconsistencies in that way is certainly humorous, I probably wouldnt be able to stop myself from breaking the 4th wall at your table "Jerries Makeup isnt on point today is it captain!!"


We try to stay in character, but we do get a few asides...

Episodic story design does have one advantage: less-dedicated players tend to embrace the more absurd elements of the setting without trying to make them work in a reality sense. Although I have one player that will insist on long digressions into the nature of Klingon society outside the warrior caste.

I wonder if youre older or more a fan of TOS then? Or you could do a more DS9 style campaign with a continuous building narrative. perhaps a war but still with episodic elements. Or discovery which was straight up continuous interconnected narrative.


Definitely older (50 this year - eek!). Grew up with TOS, but carried straight on through the movies into TNG. The movies are my favourite era (for the aesthetics), but DS9 and Discovery are probably my favourites at present. That said I love 'em all... (Except maybe the Abrams movies, but it's not like they're real Star Trek...)

I love a more serial campaign, but I run a game at a club and I'm trying to reduce some of the foreknowledge needed for new players. I usually sit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum (actual DS9 as opposed to Discovery or TOS at the two extremes).

As an aside, check out the Continuing Missions blog (https://continuingmissionsta.wordpress.com) - Michael and the guys are doing some excellent work on more obscure species and the like.
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Nathan.Dowdell said Apr 07, 2018 12:49:58
I mean right now the only bonus they can convey without adjusting the rules (unless im reading something wrong) is a lowering or increasing of the task difficulty (you couldn't actually by the text increase melee damage)

As with any a Trait, a species Trait can do one of the four following things:

1: Make an activity possible that wouldn't normally be possible. (Example: a lone Vulcan can lift something that a human would require tools or help to lift).
2: Make an activity easier to do. (Example: a Vulcan resisting the effects of extreme heat or dehydration)
3: Make an activity impossible, when it would normally be possible. (this happens least often with Species Traits; there aren't really any common examples of this for any species)
4: Make an activity more difficult to do. (Example: a Vulcan attempting to motivate or reassure a comrade by appealing to emotion)

Now, taking the strictest possible view of the rules, "easier" and "more difficult" apply only to setting the Difficulty of a Task... but there's no real reason to limit yourself like that, so long as the applications make sense. Having a specific Trait in a specific situation might well provide specific Effect results on Challenge Dice rolled (for an Extended Task or damage roll), for example, though this should be occasional and circumstantial (because otherwise you stray into "things I'd normally have to take a Talent to do"). That is, however, something I'd recommend only for GMs who are more experienced with the system and who can properly judge the impact of such rulings.

Still I disagree with the first part completely, just because something in not relevant in that specific context at that moment doesn't mean that its not the way it is, or worth knowing. Especially in the confines of a role playing game where the players arent restricted in their actions.

Which is, really, what a Species Trait (or any Trait, for that matter) is for. It's a little flag saying "this character is a Vulcan, with all that entails, account for that as you adjudicate Tasks and other activities", similar to how Aspects work in Fate (barring the Invoke/Compel part): they cover narrative permission, passive opposition, setting difficulty, and establishing context).

But a strict list of abilities... well, the moment you define Superhuman Strength as a special ability on its own, you create an expectation that it will come into play often enough to justify describing it, and you've called it out as Something Important. And, well, it isn't. It's incidental. And, well, the moment you start to bring up defined special abilities, balance becomes a question... because why play a human if they're going to be overshadowed by characters of other species? This is, incidentally, the key element of balance in RPGs - it's nothing to do with power and all to do with spotlight. Spotlight balance means that everyone getting a fair opportunity for their character to contribute, without being overshadowed or made to feel redundant by another. Why be the BMX Bandit, when the Angel Summoner can solve every problem instantly?

In this case, though, a Vulcan's strength (which is partly covered in the Attributes too, as Vulcans get +1 Fitness as well as the effects of their Trait) is essentially standing up as representative of all the special little quirks and features that alien species have in Star Trek, like Ferengi being immune to telepathy, or Bolians being able to eat things that would be poisonous to others, or Trill being allergic to insect bites, or Betazoids being uncomfortable around animals... things that would either take a lifetime to catalogue and list (and 90% of which would never actually come up in play), along with cultural details. And, as weird as it may seem, raw physical strength is one of those minor details.

Within the context of Star Trek Adventures, it doesn't matter in most cases that Spock is stronger than Kirk, because their normal interactions don't care about relative physical strength. Strength matters less than Spock's scientific knowledge and keen intellect, because, well, he's the ship's Science Officer. Strength matters less than his calm, reasoned advice, because he's Kirk's second-in-command and a trusted advisor. In another game, with a different set of themes and expectations (like, say, a superhero RPG), being able to throw a train or keep a helicopter from taking off with your bare hands would receive more importance in the rules... but Star Trek doesn't care most of the time, and even where strength might be a little relevant (and changing the example a little), non-Klingons can still meaningfully brawl with Klingons in spite of the strength disparity.

In short: because Star Trek places so little emphasis on the differences in physical strength between common humanoid species, the effects of that physical strength are not regarded as important enough to represent in the rules as a distinct special ability.

Are you planing on releasing some kind of alien creation system? maybe something more in depth than the NPC creation in the core book?
If it isnt already out there somewhere, and can say, how do you intend to make rules for the truly alien species in star trek? or the ones that maybe are furthest from 'regular humanoids' again things like Tholians, sheliak, Changlings? is it just going to be special rules in the same vein as the borg or? just interested in your thoughts on that.

A mixture of any of the stats that we already have, plus special rules where necessary to cover things that "break the rules". Again, we're not really trying to simulate how things would actually work; rather, we're trying to emulate the storytelling of Star Trek.

So, a Changeling still has the same attributes and disciplines as a normal character - they can interact with people in those terms - and then has extra rules that cover their ability to assume other forms and other major details. Same with a Q; they have attributes and disciplines (because you can reason and interact with them as you would a human), and then special rules that represent their godlike power and immortality.

I have no idea how I'd stat one of the Sheliak, considering that we have next to no information on them as individuals.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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jonrcrew said Apr 08, 2018 08:47:06
Are you planing on releasing some kind of alien creation system? maybe something more in depth than the NPC creation in the core book?


I note Nathan didn't answer this one..., but I'm not sure it's needed for a regular species. A trait/species description, three +1 attribute modifiers and a small selection of species-specific traits, for which there are plenty of examples. Nice and simple :-)
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david.jw.gibson said Apr 10, 2018 02:58:13
From a game perspective, Trek species traits have been an issue in the past. Because Vulcans are stronger and tougher than humans. And smarter. And live longer. And they’re telepaths. And they can knock you out with a touch,
How do you balance that? What do you give humans, and why is everyone not playing Vulcans.

Part of the reason is being tougher means little against a phaser. And being able to lift a heavy rock means less when you can vaporize it or teleport it into the sun. The technology balance that stuff.

The Traits are a good method. Anything a Vulcan or Andorian or Bolian can do, they do automatically or much more easily than anyone else...
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