Could someone give examples of how the Command skill can be used to create an advantage? I ask due to Command Ship being all about sharing Command based advantages.
How is that advantage applied? Would it be an ongoing bonus or a single use one? Would it apply to all rolls or only specific ones? I’m assuming the NPC captain can negate that advantage by creating an advantage (or Complication) of his own. Can a captain keep stacking more of those advantages every round?
Has anyone used their CO to create Command based advantages in combat? I just want to know what my ship Captain can do during the battle other than his one one Direct task per scene. Not to mention they’ll definitely ask about it if they ever get a ship or mission role with the Command Ship talent.
The way I’ve used it…
“Mr. Leeham, Attack Pattern Delta-2”
Player rolls command and reason.
The roll represents picking the correct drilled attack pattern, which unifies the bridge crew on what the current approach is.
In the fiction, it’s calling upon off-camera training.
In the game mechanics, it’s a tactical situation temporary advantage… lost with a complication (That plan is no longer appropriate) or by the other side generating a counter advantage (they found the pattern).
This not only flavorful but definitely counts as an Advantage because the crew knows exactly what to do here.
Besides from the obvious role playing aspects, the CO can also assist others, e.g. by commanding the tactical officer to hold fire until a very particular moment.
Rally is also always a possibility.
In essence, when playing a captain, you can Direct (once), Assist and Rally. Seems boring at first, but these Tasks are very flexible to use and the main fun comes from roleplaying the captain. As @aramis said, this simple statement not only counts as an Advantage but also adds so much Trek flavor. When doing this right, the captain’s player has the most to do.
Starship combat is remarkable synergistic. By that I mean each player is inter-dependant upon the other. Science has a powerful ability to locate weakness, Ops can repair ships systems or fire phasers, Engineering can fix things and shepherd power, the Captain directs, and supports. She has the ability to retain the initiative and do another action before turning it over to the enemy. The ubiquitous “Make Advantage” can be anything from the Picard Maneuver to Kirks Corbomite Maneuver. It can simply be ordering the helm to give the enemy a minimal aspect to fire at (Make the ship as small a target as possible ). Here I think the player creativity can come into play. Have them feed you ideas by coming up with something, and you can react to it, or give them an idea to help them out. All parts moving at once, makes for a very enjoyable Role Play experience!
Copied from a my post on the same subject on the r/startrekadventures subreddit a couple of months ago:
There’s actually a sidebar on this subject in the Command Division sourcebook, but the main stuff (from a purely “Captain” perspective) will be handing out orders, calling for specific tactics, and activities like that. A clear example from the movies would be Picard using his knowledge of/connection to the Borg to spot the weakness in the Borg Cube in First Contact . Conveying specific information like that, or coordinating specific timing (so you fire at the moment the Bird of Prey’s shields are down but before they start to cloak, as in Generations ) are the kinds of things a good Commanding Officer will try to do, to maximise the effectiveness of their crew.
Another alternative would be to give orders that let you counteract existing penalties: in the shows, when the Captain calls out for a specific attack pattern or manoeuvre, they’re calling for a specific planned course of action that the crew will have trained for, so maybe now the Tactical Officer gets -1 Difficulty on their attack even though the Conn Officer has just used Evasive Action, or maybe the ship is harder to hit even though they’re on an Attack Run, because everyone is working together more cohesively than if they just took individual actions. Maybe you could let it counter the difficulty increase for targeting a specific system, because when the Captain says “Target their weapons”, everyone responds in a way that’ll make that easier.
That’s a useful consideration in general - if the commanding officer orders it, assume that everyone else on the crew responds to it in little, minor ways that have a bigger effect overall.
And don’t forget the potential for an Advantage to let you do something that you couldn’t otherwise, or to prevent an enemy taking a particular action. This doesn’t have to be big: dropping shields, letting a shuttle aboard, and then getting the shields back up ASAP can be vital, but the normal timing of actions wouldn’t allow that. Or maybe you’ve got everyone waiting for a precise moment of opportunity, and now the enemy can’t keep the initiative right now because you’ve caught them off-guard.
I would like to hear some concrete examples on how the Create Advantage task has been used in your campaigns.
The commanding officer shouting “Attack Pattern Delta!” order doesn’t really fit the bill in my opinion: It is more in line with a Direct task, or at a stretch a Rally or an Assist. Also, Attack Pattern is already a Helm task…
I am looking for examples on how Create Advantage tasks have been used to alter circumstances to create Advantages or cancel Complications.
Attack Pattern might be a Task, but I imagine Attack Pattern Delta is a pre-defined series of Tasks which includes firing weapons. Of course, if the captain orders “Attack Pattern Delta”, it does not make sense for the helmsman NOT to do an Attack Pattern Task. Otherwise the captain is just shouting nonsense.
But actually Attack Pattern Delta is an example for a Command Advantage from one of my campaigns. However, if the captain always uses Attack Pattern Delta in every round, I won’t allow it as an Advantage because the enemy can see right through it. It is only an Advantage if the captain gets creative each round: “Attack Pattern Delta”, “Evasive Maneuvers, pattern Omega”, “Come about and target their engines”.
Essentially, for me a Command Advantage is anything that describes a coherent and reasonable cause of action, because then each bridge officer knows what the other bridge officers are doing and they can act accordingly.
This depends on what the CO shouting ‘Attack Pattern Delta!’ effects in game terms.
An advantage called ‘Attack Pattern Delta’ could mean that the difficulty for an attack-pattern task by the helmswoman is reduced by one or that the difficulty for the tactical officer to hit with phasers/torpedos is reduced by one etc. Since the crew has been drill-training these patterns, everyone knows exactly what do to and is able to do it faster and with greater precision, thus having an advantage.
Also, the CO shouting ‘Evasion maneuver Beta-Three!’ could mean that there is an additional point to resistance (is this possible with an advantage? I do not actually know!) since the helmswoman and the ops officer are coordinating their efforts to face the enemy with the side of the ship most efficiently guarded with shields (while shields on other sides on the ship would be reduced).
In my home game, set during the Dominion War, the players were the only vessel available to escort four freighters filled with various supplies and other materials needed to fortify a Starbase near the front lines. Prior to the convoy departing, The Captain wanted to create a sort picket line to make it more difficult for the freighters to detected on Sensors. I asked him how he expected that to be done - ordered a dozen probes to be programmed to distort the warp and energy signatures of the freighters while in transit. It increased the difficulty of Sensor tasks to detect the freighters by 1.
Later, while in transit, the convoy was detected by a Dominion attack group. During the attack, the Captain ordered the probes to be reassigned to interfere with the Dominion’s ability to target the freighters. Since the probes had already been programmed to interfere with Sensors, it seemed a logical adaptation to me. The difficulty to shoot the freighters increased by 1 until they actually got hit.
Hope this helps. The Captain in my group rarely uses their Direct Task, feeling as though it hampers player agency. He much prefers to Assist and Rally.
Creating Advantage to me is way for the players to affect the scene in a broad action. When they choose to perform a Create Advantage Task, I ask them describe the advantage they’re seeking and how in game it would work, then perform the task roll. You may find that many Create Advantage tasks by the CO could just as easily be Direct Tasks. Direct Tasks are more for wanting one incredibly specific action to occur that the CO has some kind of knowledge in order to assist, where Create Advantage is an interesting, usually meaningful,but minor boost to a scene for the players in some way.
To create an advantage using command, I’d think of things like this- say, your CO or XO is a veteran of the Cardassian War, and you’re dealing with Cardassians. The war vet could use Reason + Command, drawing off what he learned fighting in the war, to coordinate efforts among his crew and thereby creating an advantage.
Deploying probes to affect enemy sensors - this seems a very relevant use. It introduces a persistent physical element to the scene, and it is something the enemy would need to make an effort for to cancel out,
Drawing on past experience - also seems relevant. The presence of the Cardassians will certainly persist for the duration of the scene. The advantage is relevant as long as the Cardassians do not adaptation or change their tactics.
What would be the appropriate “power level” or scope of the Advantage? I’m thinking…
…applies in a limited area
…applies to certain types of actions, e.g. by position, offensive or defensive
…likelihood of the enemy attempting to cancel, e.g. a broad effect would be prioritized to be cancelled, a limited effect would be considered more of a nuisance
That IS one of the ways I used it in my playtest campaign.
You’re being very linear in thinking that current mechanical action has to be current character function; that there are attack patterns is, very much, an known thing, at least since TNG.
You’re also conflating the action name jargon with the common meaning of the same words; that’s not a good idea in most non-simulationist games.
The Direct action and the Create Advantage action can both be applied to the exact same narrative described behavior; the question is what’s the intent - an immediate action, or a bonus for others’ actions, possibly a lasting one.
What would be the appropriate “power level” or scope of the Advantage?
That’s a question that should be given due consideration with each advantage created. However, for me, it doesn’t occur until player’s describe the advantage they’re seeking and how in game they think it should work. It makes the advantage a very collaborative moment in the game, which suits my story is more important than detail GM style.
As for the ability of enemies/antagonists to overcome an advantage, players always get a few moments of enjoying the advantage before it’s noticed (a round or two) and the enemy/antagonist begins countering it, if at all.
Someone noted that this is covered in the Command Division book, so I took a look and indeed it is on page 44. I’m not going to paste it here as they might not be allowed, so I’ll sum up ideas presented for those who don’t have it.
Difficulty 0 inspiring speech at the beginning of combat for the sole purpose of generating momentum.
Advantage generated that lasts one round (assuming until the CO’s next turn) and with the direction of following specific instructions. If CO says target that one ship, the advantage is to targeting that one ship, including both firing weapons as well as scanning for weaknesses … basically as long as it fulfills the immediate command. So having a Command Ship means you can extend that advantage for that round to other ships or away teams following your orders.
Didn’t think of the former, although that’s likely more GM fiat, but the latter makes perfect sense in my mind.
Obviously, I’d only allow only a single commanding officer influence per scene. So if the XO is leading an away mission and the captain is on his Command Ship giving orders, only the captain gets a say and only that captain would be allowed a Direct task.
One thing that I’m not clear on, though: Out of combat, creating an advantage involves spending two momentum and tying that advantage to a rolled task, as an extension of sorts. But in the combat rules, it lists one of the possible tasks as Create an Advantage with a difficulty of 2. Does this replace the two momentum spent to create an advantage normally? Is the task itself to directly create the advantage without any other task tied to it?
In practical terms, the “value” of an Advantage is 2 Momentum (similarly, a Complication is 2 Threat, and Threat and Momentum have approximate parity in worth). If you attempt a task purely to create an Advantage, you could think of that as a Difficulty 0 task and then spending 2 Momentum, and that’s basically the same as a Difficulty 2 task.