I’m about to run a Session 0 for our new adventure we’re going to stream. Any advice here for things I should keep an eye on since none of us have ever played STA before? I’d love to hear any input to make things run a little smoother.
In the rule book, post it notes are your friend. The rules are beautiful, but they arent the simplist to follow.
The Momentum/Threat mechanic can be a little bit complicated. As a GM when I design an adventure, I always keep in mind what interesting stuff I could do in a particular scene by spending Threat.
I agree with the rule book post its, thats a good idea. I’d also think about assigning players a specific thing to track, as there are so many rules to worry about.
In my group the following players track the following things, knowing the rules well enough to not normally need prompts. I also keep an eye, but have to worry less:
CMO- momemtum, including losing one at the end of the scene and gaining extra.
XO- reputation (if im using it), and eventually noting actions that affect it.
CO- crew support and casualties (homebrew system).
It sounds like putting a lot of responsibility on the players, but I find it helps them with learning the importance of those rules, while also having a second pair of eyes for if I miss anything.
When you say Session 0, do you mean you’re all discussing what kind of STA RP you want to be playing and the like?
No, we’ve already got characters and ship built and I’m building the campaign for our stream, but we need to play some before we go live and get stuck in rules. So a “Session 0” that’s unrelated to the campaign to get more familiar with the mechanics. We’ll probably just do the Xerxes mission in the Core book.
I love the idea of assigning some thing for the crew to keep track of. I think I’ll add that to the list.
The Xerxes mission played out fine for us as is. I didn’t “change” any of it. It is obviously designed, as it states, to teach players the rules.
The only thing we I added to it was some downtime (they fell in a trench) where they did some “get to know you” type stuff as you could imagine as exposition in a TV show. They chatted about their lives until they decided to use their phasers to blast “stairs” into the side of the trench, and climb out via those.
I have a feeling my screen will be covered with them.
I can definitely say I’m still not entirely clear how to use threat. I don’t necessarily want it to be me versus the players but it seems like it might turn in to that.
On the threat point, sell it to them early that giving you threat is a perfectly valid option and generally speaking isnt there to punish them (often taking threat rather than applying a complication can be better for the group). Then follow through on that statement. Hopefully they won’t shy away from it too much.
A lack of threat or momentum on either side can sometimes stifle the story, which is never the aim of a system.
My suggestion in regards to threat (even though I will be GMing STA for the first time sometime in the next few months and none of my players have played it as of yet) would be to use it for the situations where you want to add a little bit of tension.
For example, in Xerxes, spend a little bit of threat to increase the complication range during the crossing of the gorge. You start with 2 per player, and if you have 6 players that is 12 threat. Spend 2-3 to increase the complication range from 20 to 17/18-20.
The complications could be dropping equipment down the gorge (phasers, tricorders, medkit) or a minor injury. Keep in mind that during that section it is a succeed at cost, which means they will make it, but if they barely make any successes, they will most likely suffer one of those situations regardless.
Threat is meant to be used. Let players give you threat to add dice to their roles, and also use that threat to buy dice for the adversaries on occasion. Don’t hold back the fact that you are spending threat for something, that lets the players know that the situation is getting more tense, and if they are hording momentum they may want to start using some of it.
To be honest I am a little worried about appearing like an adversarial role with threat as well, but if you know your group well enough and they know you, it should not be a problem. I do not plan on letting the players see how much threat I have (partially to keep a possible level of tension in some situations) but I will be letting them know when I am spending some.
Also, award Determination or Momentum for good RPing (or if they do something really hilarious). Possibly even out some of the ‘adversarial’ actions with giving them occasional breaks with advantages or removing complications that affect all of them. Also, don’t forget to tell them what the difficulty is, I plan on telling them the difficulty before letting them know what stats to roll with.
Threat represents the times in the story when there’s a big challenge and things go from bad to worse, like when the bad guys start getting real good with their shots or flying. It’s all elements of a Star Trek story… threat, momentum, determination (don’t forget to beat the importance of that into your players’ heads. I’d explain it like that… and think of it like that.
I love this idea! Great way to introduce the complication range as well.
The more I look at it the more it feels like a nice way to balance an adventure so it’s not one sided and full of characters acing every challenge. I honestly rarely think about using Threat to simply make something happen, like slipping into a ravine. I’m so used to D&D rolls that it just never crossed my mind but it does seem like a good way to keep stories interesting and challenging.
There are some game mechanics that require you to spend Threat, e.g. making lethal attacks or firing photon torpedoes. Also purchasing dice etc.
What I love about Threat is using it to create Complications for players. Obviously you don’t do it to prevent players from completing the adventure, you do it to make situations more tense, interesting and also fun.
Not to sound like I’m gatekeeping, but IMO if a STA game devolves into GM vs. Players then I really think you are not playing as intended.
Threat is there to add an element of suspense and well, threat, to situations, but fundamentally it is there to enhance the story and make it more dramatic.
Always keep in the forefront of your mind that the system is not designed to simulate the Star Trek universe but rather to simulate the TV show.
Not gatekeeping at all to me. My goal is to tell a good story with the players. That’s why I’m concerned about making sure I have the mechanics right.
I completely forgot it took threat to use torpedoes and such. Making sense here.
I ran my session 0 last night for a group of players who know close to nothing about Star Trek. They are great Roleplayers and adapted well but to give you a clearer idea of the system rather then the world I thought I might give you my Input.
Combat ran fluidly but I found myself as a DM not knowing 100% what to do with my threat. Quickly the players took advantage of this and begin trying their best to spin Momentum into being. I would say the most important thing I got out of this session is USE THE THREAT… I feel that the threat total needs to be, well, threatening and with that the players will start to hesitate using Momentum for fear of causing threat. Where alot of people online (from what I have read) worry about the game turning into a GM Vs. Player dynamic with threat I think that is really up to the DM and the players. A adversarial relationship would have to be present prior to the introduction of the system rather then the system causing one.
Second thought outside of combat. With a group of players that have never seen Star Trek and with my DM experience mostly being centered in the “Dungeons of the Dragons” (Heh heh) the lack of skill list mixed with the idea of Focuses and combined skills worked beautifully… Well, it worked ok and then became beautiful once players started understanding how it function. It takes a moment of adjustment for players to switch gears (mainly in the use of focus). So I would experiment with skill checks and try to feel out the system by asking questions, assigning stats, and coming up with a general idea of how everything works…
I think my last thought is remember that it is a roleplaying game, when rules fail creativity prospers. We had an amazingly epic moment that came out of roleplay mixed with a basic combat roll that went surprisingly well. 3 Nat 1s back to back mixed with the pregen’s vaules made the player jump out of his chair going “Hell Yeah! My crew IS my family”. The fun comes from the characters, the players and the pacing (and I am sure you already know this).
That all being said. That is my experience running a Session 0 in a nutshell. If you want a more detailed account of my hang ups and where the rules broke down I am happy to share but based on the answers of the other people here they have given great solutions to some of my problems (I wouldent want to just repeat what they are saying over and over).
Good luck on your stream! Cheers!
Please feel free. My goal is to run a great game everyone can enjoy so any insight and opinions are definitely appreciated.
When the players are in combat, its not quite “Me vs them” but it is a case of lets make it as exciting as possible.
Ive spent Threat on things like;
A fire spreading to volatile materials (gave an Environmental modifier, and a risk of explosion)
Another Jem’Hadar arriving on the scene
A hull breach (from ship combat) having a more wide-reachinf impact on other systems
An enemy ship they were trying to disable actually suffering a warp core breach (i spent 4 Threat for that!)
Sounds like it went almost perfect!
Players should be using Momentum, not saving it - remember that the Momentum pool maxes out at 6, and decreases with each scene. It’s named Momentum for a reason… And there’s nothing wrong with Momentum “farming” if it’s justified in the story (the Difficulty 0 tasks exist for pretty much this reason). My players have adopted a habit of usually spending 1 Momentum on a task roll - it gives them a bonus die, and if it’s not needed, they usually get the point back and sometimes more! This doesn’t work with higher spends, due to the incremental cost of bonus dice.
But, yeah, players should be cautious about generating Threat, but not to the point of avoiding it altogether. Feel free to save it n early fights - there’s no maximum and if the players know it’s there, they know it can drop at any moment.