Character Advancement

Just got through the character advancement section and will need to do a re-read. From my first look through it seems there isn’t much in the way of statistical character advancement in SA? The points you start with are more or less the points you end with but you get to move them around a bit form time to time. Did I miss something or is that about correct? I’ll be giving it another once over here shortly but was curious about your input. Thanks!

In the Starfleet core version of advancement, as your character earns arc milestones, you could earn a point to add to an attribute or discipline, as opposed to moving points around like you would with milestones. The Klingon core (and tricorder rules digest) offers an alternative optional set of rules for advancement that does something similar to arc milestones.

Essentially, though, STA isn’t a level up type of game where you see a player character significantly change in terms of numbers. Values and focuses and even talents may change a lot over the course of a character’s life, but the raw numbers for attributes and disciplines won’t change much. That’s by design.


I like the new advancement system more than the old one.
But the system is still hard to manage: you can gain something if you remind of something you have previously done to gain and determination and progress. You have to track used values, it’s complex as hell (did I talked about unique mission directives that you have to keep track of because someone in your party gained determination with it?
And it’s even worse for arcs, there’s more cohesion in that than in any Star Trek series !

My own advice make them progress as you like with normal milestones., maybe a little bit of restriction, like “you are allowed to buy Focus after this scenario that you used”. Arc milestones are given by me if the character has done something important for him or the campaign has reach a certain point. I tend to focus each year for his birthday on a character and give him an arc milestone. Far easier to track. You can also give arc milestone if you have something to celebrate , II gave the players ship an EMH after some good health news (technically it’s an arc milestone) and good play during the “Plague of Arias” (they managed to keep a duplicate of Dr Nostrum).

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While I conceptually like the milestone/arc milestone dichotomy, my post-playtest players did not. (And it wasn’t tested in the open playtest.) My first campaign with released rules went well enough, but the lack of even significant change to grow into roles was a problem.

The characters that get lots of mechanical advancement are not the main cast. My players wound up spending a lot of advancement on the Secondary Characters. Further, my players were way too happy to level up the Secondary Characters, so many away teams were mostly SC’s. (Unintended consequences.)

Fed Core
The “normal milestones” are the move a discipline point or swap values or focus
The “spotlight milestones” are an attribute point, swap a talent, or move a point on the ship
The “arc milestones” are the only ones that raise things +1 Attribute, +1 Discipline, +1 focus, +1 talent, +1 value.
Anything you can do to yourself you can instead due to a secondary character.

KDF rulebook… 127-128…
If you use a value, you may make a swap.
If you use a value and it is a callback, it is a milestone and adds a point or focus or talent, but only to 11 or 4.
If you use a value and it’s a callback to a milestone, it’s an Arc milestone and adds a point, to a max of 12 or 5.

The Klingon core is MUCH faster potentially…my players would have shot up quite a bit.
I’m tempted to use the Klingon method

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After re-reading the section and all of your kind feedback I may alter things as well if we should end up in a long term game. The arc milestone feels to me much more like something that should go out at the end of every story/adventure vs being based on spotlight system. It just feels so slow on paper and you have so many points to spend between your own stats, the ship stats, and npc stats. We shall see. It is an interesting take on it and I mostly understand what they were going for I think just not sure if I like it from the perspective of playing vs gming, and frankly from a gming stand point it feels like a lot of extra book work heh :wink: We may well use STA as a jumping off point for some of the more complicated 2d20 games if we like the system. Thank you all again for your input it is very appreciated!

Actually: No.

One of the great advantages of the slow advancement-approach is that it actually reduces work on the GMing side. Yes, you might have to do some paperwork, but that’s quite easy to do with a form. I’m preparing one for my own campaign and will finally submit it here when I’m content with the results.

On the other hand, since development is so static (compared to e.g. level-based systems like D&D), you need virtually no time to adjust NPCs. From the start of the campaign to the end, you can throw in a drunk Human in a bar or a Borg Assimilation Drone and they will be an appropriate challenge for the group.

In my D&D game, I spend hours to adjust cool Monsters that fit my plot, but not my group’s average levels. I’m looking very forward to spare this time in STA.


I can’t recall just how much time I burned in my D&D games prepping encounters. It was so much work that no one saw or appreciated.


For me I track milestones and so on using a spreadsheet that’s set up for like 5-10 sessions in advance so that all I need to do is increase numbers as the players earn things. It makes it nice and easy and it just takes maybe minor prep every so often to make additional spots for later sessions and me paying attention to how my players resolve things which is honestly something I feel GMs should do anyhow.

For a while i asked players, post-mission, for an “Officers Log” entry. After getting one single log, from three players over three missions (which saysnmore about the players than the game), i decided to stop asking.

The few times they have recalled past events they have been useful, however i think its (again) more about the players than the rules.

Playing over Roll20 is great, but can be restrictive. Contrary to expectations, ive founf players make more notes around a table than on a computer.

In light of this, i now keep a mental note of when they have used skills and abilities, rather than Values, mainly because the players never blooming use them. It also hurts my game that im the only one with a physical book, so the players heavily rely on Roll20 to do the rolling, and its more like an interactive story than a rull-on RPG, which is also less fun for me.

I cant wait to get fully around a table again (maybe the buggers will use the rules properly lol)

It just feels so slow on paper and you have so many points to spend between your own stats, the ship stats, and npc stats

It felt slower in play than it looked on paper for me and mine.
It was way too flat for my players.
It’s a bit too flat for my tastes.

Now, long ago (1990) I ran a successful trek campaign (using a hombrewed system), and had players make log entries. It was one of the best things I ever did as a GM… especially when I ran a court-martial episode. I had kept and typed up all their logs (wish I could find the disk now), and the logs I read aloud during the court martial were altered. Players caught on… and decided to recover the originals from Memory Alpha.
I can see doing likewise for a VOIP game.


When I played a game, my GM used a set of homebrew rule that essentially granted milestones automatically per session, and then bigger milestones every 5, 6, 7… etc. (or something like that). It worked reasonably well.

The issue with the rules-as-written advancement is that it relies on players using values. Which, conceptually, is very cool… but it means that A. the GM needs to provide opportunities for that, and B. players actually need to use their determination/values. Now, to be sure, a good GM will be able to balance every player so that they’re all advancing approximately equally, but as noted in the thread above, some players may not track things well, or might not even use a value when given the opportunity.

So it makes sense to me to have an “automatic” progression, where all players receive milestones as they all play in the game, either per session or per adventure. The GM could always award “extra” milestones for exemplary performance, or really lean on the reputation mechanic for things like that.

I’m interested in how the new reputation plays out, since the KDF book was released after my group’s campaign ended.

We use a variant of the milestone system. The Spotlight system from CRB is a glorified popularity contest so we do so like this:-
every mission 1 Normal
every 3 missions 1 Spotlight
every 3 Spotlights 1 Arc

By the end of a 10 episode season they should have 10 Normals, 3 Spotlights and 1 Arc.


I love making a bragging time at the end of a scenario:
I, as a series producer, interrogate players:

  • what have you done in the episode that fans may like?
  • why have you done in this episode that justifies that I pay you for appearing in a new episode?
  • why I should not replace you by a sexy young blonde (with borg implants eventually)?
  • What justifies all the material destruction of my expensive (or so I say) filming studio?
  • Why should I keep you despite all the censure committee complaints for too much violence?
    Push players to brag a lot, give them aspects based on what they said, arrange ship counselor appointments accordingly
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Uhh, uhh, pick me, pick me, I know that one!!!

“Because it’s 2022!” :stuck_out_tongue:

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OK, I keep you, for now. I will employ her in Picard instead, without borg implants to spare makeup