Appropriate discipline onboard a starship

Hello again. Had a scenario happen in game where 2 PC’s went off solo to a public bar to investigate a name of a contact there. When the idividual who was on a non federation planet did not want to talk to them got up to walk away the 1st officer and security officer grabbed him and called for a immediate transport (essentially abducting the individual) and not alerting the captain or any other individuals to their descision. Turns out this drunk individual they abducted was armed and drew his weapon on them and fired but do to a critical fail on the GM’s roll grazed himself in the head. Upon recieving a message that there is weapons fire in the transporter room my captain takes a security detail and procedes to go to the transporter room. When arriving he sees that the other 2 PC’s have disarmed the individual and 1 of them is holding him off the ground up against a wall. My captain asks them what is going on and the security officer throughs the abductee on the ground saying he drew on them while the transporter operator (another PC) says that they brought him in without alerting anyone of a potential threat. In the heat of the moment my captain orders that all 3 be disarmed since they are onboard the ship. And that the 2 officers be escorted to their quarters to cool off (not under arrest) just seperated from the NPC. And the NPC be taken to the brig. The PC security officer in game protests and sits on the floor and refuses to move or go with the security officers. The 1st officer goes reluctantly. With the security officers refusal i ordered the security detail to stun him but still take him to his quarters…My question is this. Was this too rash given the insubordination involved? And according what the tech manual says and the tv shows tell what should be done?

So first of all the transporter operator should actually detect a weapon in the matter stream and disable it, thus eliminating a potential threat. This happens several times in the show (mostly TNG I guess). With that in mind, the situation should not have been as critical.

But in any case, let’s say for the sake of argument that the weapon was somehow not detected. I think the first officer made a judgement call to “abduct” the individual. You can always apologize later. This should probably be handled with a talk between the captain and the XO.

To the transporter room: From my feeling, the transporter operator should not openly contradict a superior officer in front of the captain. That said, even though the security officer is rough, the behavior is still OK for a TV show. I think the captain is a little overreacting when they disarm the XO and security officer and sending them to quarters.

But sitting (!) on the floor not handing over the weapon is not only insubordination but also a behavior very unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. Protests should be made verbally if it relates to ship’s security, but if the captain asks you to relinquish your weapon, it should be clear how serious the situation is. Also the XO should probably have tried to reason with the security officer.

I honestly don’t know what I would do as a captain. It depends on how experienced the security officer is (i.e. how long they served in Starfleet).


When someone does something off-character like sitting on floor as a protest, it may be worth to pause game for a minute and make sure that everything is ok.
Player may try to tell you something about theirs game expectations, maybe they do not know how to properly make a protest as a Starfleet personel or else?

I think this kind of issues should be resolved off-game and off-character – it is fun to have some conflict in your game, but if someone is not happy with it, things may go ugly and not startrekish at all.

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I agree that a pause in the action is warranted. The players should be told that their behavior is out of line, and give them a chance to rethink their actions, in a more mature and professional manner. If they persist, then the Captain has no choice but to deal with them as harshly as the situation warrants.
Personally, I would have sent them all to the brig to think about what they’re doing and brought them before a Captain’s Mast for punishment. For those that do not know, a Captain’s Mast is a less severe method of molding behavior and handing out correction.


There are examples of this kind of punishment, like Tuvok ordering crewman Chell to degauss one of the ship’s transporter pads with a micro-resonator (not technically a Captain’s Mast but still). I agree that this is the right way to deal with that kind of insubordination (ignoring the sitting on the floor part).

As I read it, the “sitting on the floor”-thing was in-game and not out-of-character.

That being said, my first reaction, too, was “Why didn’t the transporter disable the firearm?”. Maybe this will help the PCs in their defense.

In-universe, there should be at least some negative feedback (be it a Captain’s Mast, disciplinary action or a full-grown military tribunal). This also is a text-book-example for negative influences on reputation checks.

Out of game, I really recommend to check for player expectations. It doesn’t sound like all the players at the table are playing the same game. Maybe, the player of the security officer is not into playing a starfleet officer at all or at least has difficulties in adapting their play-style from a standard D&D chaotic-something rogue.

Or maybe, everyone actually does play the same game, but fails to communicate they do. Meaning: Maybe the player playing the security officer wants to display in-character struggles with authority and their own discipline. This has happend before, just look at Tom Paris in early Voyager, needing time and personal development to fit in. It would be detrimental to their expectations to just ignore it.

Please have a talk as a whole group, maybe advanced and/or followed by one-on-one talks where everyone clearly communicates their expectations. Playing should be fun for everyone.
For such a talk, maybe take into consideration the points that were raised in the Session 0 in STA thread right in this forum.

The “sitting on the floor”-thing may have been in-game but it was still conduct not becoming of an officer.
Certainly not a Starfleet officer; nor was kidnapping someone, for any reason. They better have a damn good excuse for it.
Tell them that, like the Prime Directive, Starfleet has certain protocols that are expected to be followed by any and every officer wearing the uniform. (in and out of that uniform)

Did Tom Paris ever get tossed in the brig?

If the PCs had firearms then the transporter might not have delineated a new one when they beamed up.

Tom Paris spent a Month in the brig. they actually did an episode about it

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The two officers who abducted a person without their consent should be put in the brig before being handed over to he planetary authorities to face a charge of kidnapping.
If proven, they would no longer be Starfleet officers.
Starfleet has high ethical standards, the GM should have advised them that this action was out of character for a member of Starfleet and asked them did they really want to face a career-ending charge of abduction?

  1. The Executive Officer and Security Officer should be put on report for their disregard for the sovereignty of the world the ship was visiting. If they wanted to speak to this guy and he refused, they should have negotiated with the planetary / local government for assistance in compelling the conversation.

  2. As noted above, the transporter filter should have picked up and disabled or just removed the weapons of the civilian alien.

  3. After the incident the Alien should have been offered an apology and compensation for his abduction, as well as the opportunity to file an official complaint with Starfleet and the Federation. If an official complaint is made, that’s another black mark on the records of the officers and potential Court Martial if taken far enough.

  4. The “temper tantrum” of sitting on the floor is disobeying a direct order from a superior officer, and by not going to his quarters as directed this is also failure to repair. This would also go onto the report and could result in NJP (Non judicial punishment such as extra duty as mentioned above), loss of one grade of rank, loss of position (downgraded from Chief of Security, etc) but most likely would be the NJP and some mandatory Counseling before allowed a return to duty.

Basically, your players abused the power of their mighty Starship, acted like bullies, didn’t like getting called out for it, and then started acting petulantly. An out of character conversation where some examples of how this could have been handled better would be in order. And then maybe a Retcon. YMMV.


The XO wakes up in a cold sweat, realizing it was all a dream.

Star Trek has done that sort of thing so often it would be something of an homage to the franchise.


I agree with much of what Fortunae above has said but frankly this is a bit more severe than is being pointed out in some cases.

1: The “Grab him and beam away” Ehhhh… this happens startlingly often in Star Trek. Usually in ‘emergency’ situations, but sometimes just for convenience sake. So… while surely against about 50 regulations I could see how players MIGHT get from A to B on that. They surely need a swift smack from the captain, official reports and what not considering everything that came of it.
Yes… they basically kidnapped a dude against his will. Abduction is a capital offense some places. The officers were surely acting out side of command’s orders, as the Captain didn’t know about it.

2: The weapon beam up. This one I chalk up simply to "There’s 100s of hours of ST and not every fan has seen every single one. So the GM may not have known (Or may have simply forgotten) This aspect of transporter technology. But it’s not unsalvageable. If I messed up in this fashion as a GM (We all mess up.) I’d have simply covered. “They ordered an emergency beam out, Captain. As per protocol for Emergency beam outs, I grabbed the targets and yanked them here absolutely ASAP. The nature of the Emergency beam out negates subsections 4-457. Of which weapon detection and nullification is number 271.” Or go even more simple “Captain our computers have not encountered a weapon in THIS configuration before and thus didn’t flag it to be deactivated or a security risk. I’m updating the buffer program now. Won’t happen again” Boom. GM is past this mistake.
I don’t blame people. I’m a pretty good trek expert but even I forget things.
3 After the incident, yeah the alien should be apologized to and ‘amends’ made (Don’t you love replicator tech?). More over he should be offered (Even if just passingly) to make formal complaint to StarFleet. Two members of the armed service just assaulted and kidnapped him then battered him aboard their starship, which lead to illegal detention and false imprisonment. That’s a lot of BIG crimes.
Which leads us to … well if the guy can be ‘urged’ to let it all go (Maybe he’s wanted and just wants to fade into the background, or will take a pay off.) then the captain can handle it in house… but yikes. That’s a lot to sweep under the rug. If it was on an official mission and had the approval of the captain you can creative write your reports to justify it. But out on their own with out the captains knowledge? No no no.
They should get severely punished for that.

Which leads us to

4: He… sat on the floor… and refused a direct command from a superior officer and captain??
That is the book definition of mutiny. “an open rebellion against the proper authorities, especially by soldiers or sailors against their officers.” “refuse to obey the orders of a person in authority.”

He would INSTANTLY be placed under full arrest and thrown in the brig, Likely a near warp speed untill his head hit the back wall.

The captain’s word on ship is THE LAW. It is the WORD OF GOD. You may disagree with a captain. If you’re high enough you may even be allowed to verbalize your disagreement in polite fashion and suggest alternatives. But you can not, simply tell a captain “No”. This is more than simply disobeying a superior officer. This is refusing a lawful and direct command, and by sitting on the floor and refusing to move, acting in open rebellion against your command structure.

The only way you ever get away with telling your captain no, is if he or she or it or they, are giving unlawful orders, or are under mental control of an out side force. And Despite what TV’s tell you, you better be really really really really really REALLY sure you’re right before you do so, because to even try it, if you’re wrong is the end of your career and likely a jail sentence. Even in the Fed. This is a trope that happens on tv shows a lot, much like Amnesia, or “Pleading insanity”. In reality these things are so rare, you could easily go your entire career and never even hear of one. It’s infinitely easier to kill someone by hitting them in the head or cause traumatic brain injury than it is to hit them and give them Amnesia. (To be honest it’s easier to kill someone by hitting them in the head with something hard than it is to ‘knock them out’ more than a few seconds, and if you ARE knocked out more than a minute, you BETTER get to the hospital STAT.)) Pleading insanity, frankly hardly ever works. Talking under 5% of the times it’s tried.

Taking command of a ship from it’s captain is even more rare than that. But back to the topic at hand.

Dude sat on the floor and refused a direct order from his captain, after conducting multiple actions, that frankly could derail a career, if not totally end it. (Some captains are a bit more lienant in such things as the abduction and assault… MacKenzie Calhoun for example might think the dude deserved it)

But the sitting on the floor like a child and refusing the captains’ direct order?


He’s done.

His rank would be ripped off his uniform. He would be thrown in the brig and confined, likely on SF’s version of ‘Bread and water’ (Water and nutrient tabs?) And simply left in isolation untill the ship again returned to star base, or a planet where a full and official court martial would be held.

He’s guilty. He did it. And there were witnesses. He would be stripped of rank and thrown in Starfleet prison, such as it is for a term likely to the end of his current service agreement or longer.

He’s -done- in starfleet. period.

Roll a new (Less stupid) character.

As others have said, you may wish to impress on the players. "You guys are in Starfleet, not the Ferengi merchant fleet. This sort of stuff is not tolerated (The abduction and assault).

The refusal of orders is frankly insane by someone that’s gone through the academy and has made it to officer and then a department head on a ship.

But yeah that dude should be thrown in the brig, Make the forcefield on THAT cell opaque, and tell him to roll a new char. That one just killed his own career and unless you’re playing a Generational Campaign, he won’t be seen again shy of a breakout from jail.

(( Star fleet jails don’t seem THAT bad. Tom was in one and seemed to be fixing farm machinery. Hardly a gulaug, but still)


+1 what JohnnieRico said. What they did was bad how the handled the consequences was unforgivable. Now it may be that forcing new character(s) will be good for your player(s) by making them take the consequences of their actions seriously. Or it could destroy the player’s ability to enjoy the game in which case a retcon is in order, I suggest alien brain parasites.

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while i second the opinion that such behavior is inappropriate for a starfleet office, my first thought was “how old are the players in the game?” because that action, sitting down and refusing to talk or move, is very much the kind of thing a younger kid might immediately think of. if CaptainT is GMing for a group that includes younger players, especially pre-teens, how the situation gets handled is going to be different than when the players are all adults or older teens. in both cases the player should be informed by the GM that the action they had their character perform was not an appropriate response.
where the handling changes is the aftermath. for an adult, the aftermath would basically be a stint in the brig for the character (with counseling to occur offscreen) and then a rather lengthy talk to the player to find out why they chose that course of action, and talk through the fact that it made the character appear immensely unprofessional and childish.
if the player is a younger individual, i would start with much the same tack, asking them why they chose that action, but i would remember that by definition, a child is going to react with childish ideas until the learn better. so the focus should be less on “that made your character look bad” and more “that sort of thing doesn’t really work, what else could you have done instead?”, and basically try to help the player learn something they can apply to their own life as they grow. I would also make the punishment a little bit lighter “in character”, to accommodate the fact you are working with younger minds which literally can’t yet think or behave in entirely adult ways.

for myself, i’d have put the whole game on pause right there and asked them if they really wanted to do that, and talked the whole situation out with the player before resuming the game, hopefully having helped them come up with a more suitable approach.


Thank you for the response. The game is all adults youngest is 19 and odest 39. The situation has been handled. And all players exept one have continued to play. Thank you fir the input though

@CaptainT I’d actually be very curious how the situation was handled. Maybe we can learn from it. :slight_smile:

P.S.: I wrote a response to @mithril2098 that is awaiting mods’ approval, 'cause I used a bad word. That one predates OP’s response. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for raising the issue of Player Age! When I read the post, I immediately interpreted the ‘sitting down issue’ as a form of non-violent but physical protests.

At least from where I am from, this is indeed a common form of (grown-up) protest: People would, in this way, ‘blockade’ army barracks (okay, they did during the Cold War and it came a bit out of custom, ever since) or nazi rallys (for a more contemporary example). Eventually, Police would carry them away, but often leave them alone, after. Technically, this behaviour can amount to an administrative offence or even a small misdemeanour, but charges are rarely filed.

Instinctively, I interpreted the guy sitting on the floor as being peacefully protesting, hard.Of course, that doesn’t make it more appropriate for a starfleet officer.

In case there are young players involved that definetly turns everything upside down.

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I assume that the one player who stopped playing was the one who played the childish security officer…

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somebody keep alex kurtzman away from this session or he might make another tv show based off of it. I’m glad it was able to be resolved, for me it’s hard enough just getting a game running, and then to have it kinda crash down is a ■■■■■■.

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LOL. One would think this would be the PC that quit but he has actually turned into a great player after talking with him and helping him to get to know the universe (turns out he was very new to the universe as in had never watched an episode). The player that eventually ended up quiting mind you it was roughly 15 sessions later after this incident was the XO who instigated this incident. That was due to multiple issues including this one - namely the PC had authority issues (possibly a OOC issue). The group at the time was 9 players so it was very large it is now at 8 players. This PC (XO) continued to make bad calls through out game that got the away teams he was leading into a lot of unnecessary trouble - essentially his go too was always attempting to negotiate at gun point or intimidate and if that failed it went straight into a combat scenario with no other options being explored. Eventually all other players started calling him out on it both with their PC’s in game and OOC after game the individual refused to change his play style insisting that they needed to build higher security characters to keep up…the other PCs were medical, science, engineering and diplomacy based but he refused to play to their strengths. Over all the crew has now flourished though