I have a question regarding missing roles in the PC’s Starship, when they are important (like the XO) should they be support characters of NPC ?
Our group is six people. We rotate GM’s, so GM’s get a break and players get to play various roles. But we generally have a couple roles missing, and we fill in with Supporting Characters. That way the Captain (or whomever) does not go on the Away Team isn’t stuck sitting out the entire night. It is the best part of this game, IMHO. As for which roles are “critical”, that you have to decide based on the type of campaign you chose to run. You can focus on any of the senior or junior officers on the ship and still have a very fun and worthwhile campaign.
Roles are not that important in my opinion. They just give additional flavor and some bonuses. In space combat, I find it much more important that key stations are manned by player characters:
- Internal Systems
If you have four players, have each one prepare a supporting character they can use. For example, the medical officer likely does not have anything to do during a space battle, so they should choose a supporting character that can help there.
Likewise, if a PC is playing the captain, they should choose a supporting character so that they can go on away teams.
This way, you should have all roles and positions covered.
Entire Supporting Characters mechanics is one of the best parts of STA 2d20 ruleset.
In my campaign one of players switched her main charater (Denobulan Chief Medical Officer) for her favorite secondary character (Vulcan Science Officer) for good.
I have 4 players (maybe 5 later) but at this time, their rôle are commanding officier, operation manager, chief of security and chief medical officer.
I have 5 Players in the Cassini Group (Intrepid Class):
Captain, XO/Science (Dopple Duty), Chief of Security, CMO and Chief Engineer. Missing Personal like Conn and Counselour are made up via Support Charakters.
In the Second Group, the Gettysburg Group (Conselltation Class):
Captain (Co-DM), XO (2nd Co-DM), CMO, Chief Engineer, Chief of Security and maybe soon a Science Officer. Until now: Science, Operations, Conn and Counselor are made up via Support Charakters.
Depending on the role, I would probably have NPCs available and allow support characters to fill gaps when needed. It’s also worth noting that certain roles aren’t overly involved in certain parts of the game, but might be able to cover positions that make sense- for example, my Doctor sometimes take up the science station with my XO/Chief science officer sliding over to Ops. It makes use of all their skills, while allowing greater involvement.
On the XO matter, I’d highly recommend that one of the senior department heads takes on a dual role. If it worked for Spock, it can work for most crews!