In all honesty, it was developed fairly late in the process, and I didn’t really have the time I would’ve liked to iterate on it and refine it (which is why the medals and awards stuff didn’t appear until the Command book). Similar with milestones for advancement - If I could screw with the timeline and rework them with the benefits of hindsight, there’d probably be some notable differences.
As the shows tell us, senior staff say in the same roles for years, if not decades. By the end of the TOS movies, the main cast were all Captains and Commanders - Kirk having become an Admiral and then come back down to being a Captain - and only Sulu seems to have left the Enterprise for good (Scotty and Chekov get assigned to other ships but come back later). For the TNG cast, by the time of Nemesis, Riker is only just getting a promotion to Captain (he’d refused promotion since season 3 of TNG), and only Worf had actually had any real career progression (achieved by moving to a different show). There are a few more promotions in DS9 (everyone with a rank in the main cast gets promoted at least once, except Worf who gets a political career instead), but nobody gets promoted up and out (Sisko nearly does, twice, though). And there are only two officers who change rank in all seven years of Voyager (Tuvok and Paris).
Besides, as Kirk says to Picard in Generations:
“Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you’re there… you can make a difference.”
It did feel it, but I see the potential and would love to see it fully fleshed out.
Per the rest of your point, this is basically my opinion on it. You’ve developed a system that attempts to replicate what we see on screen, and I think you’ve done a bang up job, to the point where promotion through the ranks is not really a thing to be concerned about because it doesn’t really happen on screen, particularly to higher ranks (Sisko notwithstanding).
I think it serves the story more to have a scripted promotion around which a story can develop, rather than one dictated by growing numbers on a character sheet. In my mind, that is a D&D mentality which I play STA to actively avoid.
Overall I am not really sure what the Reputation system as it stands really brings to the table as the game functions perfectly fine without it, but I really do like the idea postulated by @Section31 that it can grant traits to the characters and the ship they serve on.
It could be used for initial attitude of NPC or as a tie-breaker of some sorts when two or more characters propose some ideas and there for some reasons needs to be a mechanic to settle the ‘conflict’ instead of doing role-play (maybe becaus the role-play ran in circles for too long and there needs to be a dice-roll, something I as a GM encounter quite often). Just two random thoughts out of my head.
We were also discussing multi-faction reputation somewhere around the forums; another thing reputation could be used for.
Last, but not least, it can spring additional plots, like court-martials. I once spent an entire evening of roleplaying with my D&D group being tried for something the accuser called mass-murder (and, to be honest, rightly so). I even created an entire new mini-game for all the diplomacy and bluff checks.
Of course, if the GM wants a court-martial as a plot, she will probably get one. But with the the reputation system it is actually supported by crunch and not ‘only’ by fluff.
Having said this, I now have a question: Can I as a GM use threat to make the reputation check for my players a bit harder?
But a promotion doesn’t need to be a promotion of rank, it could also be a promotion of responsibility/position. In current time military there is still a separation between rank and position:
For example within the German Bundeswehr there are some platoon leaders (within the Armoured Troop companies for example) which are Leutnant or Oberleutnant ( Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenants) and some are Hauptfeldwebel (sergeant major). A promotion of responsibility (for example from tank commander to tank platoon leader) doesn’t has to be linked with a promotion of rank, but often this promotion follow sooner or later. And a promotion of responsibility is much easier to archive, because a position shouldn’t be vacant.
And I think Starfleet isn’t so much different in this case. If the position of the Chief Engineer is vacant, the highest ranked or most qualified engineer is promoted into it, but a promotion of rank takes it time, thanks to the bureaucracy, that still exist!
Something we’ve homebrewed into our game is that if a character’s Reputation reaches 20 & above, they have the option to spend 10 of their Reputation for an arc milestone, semi-reflecting instances where Riker kept refusing promotion, thereby beginning to knock his reputation as people started to wonder why he was refusing advancement even though he was developing in his own way.
I have mentioned this before, and I apologize for repeating myself but it seems to fit. Our campaign has been running for 12 years. We all have had several characters, swapping roles between Science and Helm, for example, or from XO in the last ship to CO in the new ship. That way our newest players don’t always feel left out because of their characters lack of rank or experience. It has kept the campaign fresh. In short, I would think promoting the Captain to Admiral would most likely pull her off the ship and send her across the galaxy to a new assignment. If a character dies, that is another thing entirely.
… to the point where promotion through the ranks is not really a thing to be concerned about because it doesn’t really happen on screen, particularly to higher ranks (Sisko notwithstanding).
We see some people promoted on-screen. Including Dr. Crusher (TNG: Thine Own Self), Chief O’Brien (DS9: Afterimage), and Ben Sisko (DS9 The Adversary).
We see some off-screen but in-series promotions - Spock and LaForge come immediately to mind.
It’s definitely a plot-point when seen onscreen, but it’s also evident that Starfleet has no “up-or-out” policy, with some aged lieutenants…
Oh, and the Command Division sourcebook provides promotion potential to captains… without of need removing them from play.
We see Beverly’s gotten the rank onscreen (and it’s not a costuming error) as Troi asks her about it. You’re right that Troi is the focus of the episode and does get promoted onscreen. http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/268.htm
I think one could start their campaign out with the “Captain” being ranked Commander on a smaller ship, say a Steamrunner or in earlier timelines, a Saladin or Miranda . In naval tradition, the commanding officer is called “Captain” often “Skipper” or German “K-leu” (Forgive the spelling, it is phonetic.) That would leave room to “promote” the Captain to a four pipper, Captain, and reward the officer with a new larger command with more responsibility. In the campaign we are playing now, an inexperienced player new to the group who is very bright and has loads of RPG experience was assigned to First Officer. The Captain was an NPC Vulcan and very aloof, leaving most decisions to his First Officer. Another way to handle it might be as the GM has in the campaign we are playing right now. During the course of the campaign we have learned that our “Vulcan Captain” was actually a Romulan agent replacing the actual Vulcan during a shuttle transit, or so we think. The Romulan spy was dealt with and now our First Officer has been promoted to Captain, way before her time. At times she is obviously flailing, but always manages to maintain her composure and very willing to listen to suggestions from her “subordinates”. We respect her authority, and her word is law, but she gives us latitude. It works. We had to go through her picking a First Officer and Second Officer to replace promotions below her.
This is exactly what I planned to do with my campaign. Give them a smaller ship, so they can ‘advance’ to a bigger one in time (or choose to stay with the small one in case they grew fond of it) and give every member of the ship the possibility of being promoted at least once, including the ‘captain’.
It is true, by the way, that by tradition of several navies the commanding officer of a ship is called ‘Captain’.
Actually: No. They are not.
Details on the German navy ranks and how to adress commanding officers
The German navy distinguishes between ‘ships’ and ‘boats’. This has nothing to do with the actual size of the vessel but with with how many hands the vessel is manned and how the crew is militarily organised. I won’t go into details here (unless requested).
The commanding officer of a ship is mostly referred to as Kap’tn (pronounced like ‘captain’ in english) since they almost always bear one of the three captain-ranks the german navy provides. To compare with Star Trek / U.S. Navy ranks: A four-pipped ‘Captain’ would be a ‘Kapitän zur See’ (literally captain at sea, referred to as captain in international context), a three-pipped ‘Commander’ would be a ‘Fregattenkapitän’ (literally frigate captain, referred to as commander in international context), a two-and-a-half-pipped ‘Lieutenant Commander’ would be a ‘Korvettenkapitän’ (literally corvette captain, referred to as commander junior grade in international context). So, every senior officer is some kind of captain and by German navy tradition, every senior officer is adressed as ‘Kap’tän’ (pronounced like the english captain, but stressed on the second syllable).
Since every senior officer bears a rank called some kind of captain and is adressed as Herr Kap’tän by their subordinates and since the commanding officer of a ‘ship’ is always a senior officer, most COs of German ‘ships’ are just called ‘the captain’ (sometimes referring to english word, directly).
The commanding officer of a ‘boat’ however is officially called ‘Kommandant’, translating to ‘commanding officer’. They are most of the time referred to as that.
Also, there is a tradition in the German navy that the commanding officer is sometimes referred to as ‘der Alte’ (something along the lines of ‘the old man’). This, however, is seen as a respectful nickname for a commanding officer and is never used directly towards the nicknamed or even when he’s in the vincinity.
The term ‘KaLeu’, in contrast, is only used when the adressed officer actually is a ‘KaLeu’. The term itself is a semi-official abbreviation of the German navy rank of a ‘Kapitänleutnant’ (literally translated captain’s lieutenant). As I explained above, all senior officers in the German navy bear a rank called something with captain; the captain’s lieutenant (with lieutenant is a french word for ‘placeholder’, referring to replacement in command…) or ‘Kapitänleutnant / KaLeu’ in german is the highest junior officer’s rank, equally to a Lieutenant senior grade in Star Trek and/or U.S. navy.
(Actually, there is also the ‘Stabskapitänleutnant / StabsKaLeu’, literally Staff KaLeu, who is in between of KaLeu and Korvettenkapitän, thus some kind of in between of senior lieutenant and lieutenant commander. But that’s an entirely different story.)
So, there actually are ‘boats’ commanded by 'KaLeu’s, including U-Boats (submarines). But their COs would be called ‘Herr KaLeu’ because KaLeu was their rank, not because there was a navy tradition.
I am going on the movie Das Boat, that is how the Commanding Officer of the U-Boat was addressed, which it I understand it, and I watched the movie with two natural German speakers, means something more like Lieutenant Commander. Please correct me, if I am wrong. (Granted, it has been a while since I have seen Das Boat.)
I just found your extended explanation of the German Naval ranks. THANK YOU! It makes more sense now, we have been playing Cruel Seas, and I have been reading about the S-boats (e-boats in German, I think) and the ranks confused me. You make it very clear, thank you!
You’re very welcome. I hope it was not too much. I am proud to have served in the German navy which makes it sometimes hard not to go all-over rambling around stuff.
One concluding remark: You’re actually partly right when you compare a KaLeu to a LtCmdr. Officially, a KaLeu is coded NATO OF-2, thus being roughly equal to a senior lieutenant of the U.S. navy. But. The ranks structure of the German armed forces is a bit different for several reasons. One difference is that progression is way slower. You would be promoted to KaLeu after about seven or eight years in total time of service and, by law, not earlier than five years after you were promoted to ‘Leutnant’ which equals to ensign. I learned that, in the U.S. navy, you could be a LtCmdr by this time.
Dr. Crusher was always a Commander, from Encounter at Farpoint to Nemesis.
That said, Dr. Crusher likes to take night shifts in the later seasons (maybe just season 7?) because she likes being in command of a starship. And while this is not an example for an on-screen promotion, it is nevertheless a very good example on how characters change over time, and it is perfectly captured in the rule system.
While the stagnation of the command crew of Trek shows is the product of contracts and the realities of TV, all (para)militaries have a minimum “time in grade” before you’re allowed to ascend to the next rank, even for people on the fast track (like Riker was until getting posted to the Enterprise dramatically stalled his carrier).
Of course Voyager is a clear example that rank doesn’t really equate to position on a 1:1 basis where you had an ensign running Ops for most of a decade (so so stupid that Kim stayed at that rank even when Tom got demoted), while 1st season TNG had the chief engineer of the fleet’s flagship be a only a lieutenant