Creating non-Starfleet characters

So, looking through the books, I notice that the books assume everyone is a graduate of Starfleet academy, but Star Trek has always had a wide variety of characters, and not all of them had Starfleet-level training. Quark was terrible at engineering and could barely beam someone, Kira didn’t seem to have any scientific training, and adulation couldn’t operate a dermal regenerator. Not to mention T’Pol who was not (initially) part of Starfleet, among other characters. Is there a way to play these characters?

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The Starfleet-focused core rulebook and by extension most of the STA line, focuses on playing Starfleet characters.That being said, the Gamma and Delta Quadrant sourcebooks provide advice on playing non-Starfleet characters integrated as part of a Starfleet crew, and the Klingon Empire core book discusses playing, well, Klingons of every stripe.


Also, for examples, Kira, Quark, Neelix, and Kes are all statted up as player characters in their respective series characters packs in PDF format. It’s pretty easy to re-skin the lifepath to be not Starfleet focused and still give the characters high competency in whatever attribute or discipline you desire.


Thanks for the info. Like I said in another post, I’m still new to this system. Still a little iffy on it. Restricting all rolls to be part of command/conn/security/engineering/science/medical seems a bit weird to me. Like, what if you wanted to roll to see how good your freestyle jazz session was on talent night in ten-forward? I dunno, I suspect I’ll get a better feel for it if I ever get to play. Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.

I’ll be interesting to hear if the long-timers here have comments on how to shoehorn “mundane” tests like your jazz example into the system. I could see a number of ideas for that:

  • Presence + Command, with the reasoning of commanding attention, that leadership involves presentation skills, etc. This one’s a stretch, but it feels like the closest of the six disciplines on the sheet.
  • Presence + (how good you think your character at their instrument, pick 0-5 based on the definition of each rating as defined in the book, and get GM buy-in)
  • Roll 1d20 (or 2d6 for a nice bell curve) for a relative number of how well it went. If you go the d6 route, you could use the challenge dice mechanics and ask players to describe their effects.
  • Roll 1d20 and on a crit success or failure, something interesting happens; otherwise, things go as planned

One general rule I see a number of systems starting to adopt: Don’t ask for a roll unless failure is either interesting or has meaningful consequences. A performance for some high-ranking diplomats who will be insulted if it isn’t perfect, that’s one thing. The jazz session example, I’d probably just ask the player(s) to tell me how well the think they did.


I think it’s fairly obvious that there is a market for a sourcebook for non-Federation characters and their cultures. Not everyone has as rich a background to draw on like the Bajorans, Romulans, and Ferengi, nor does everyone warrant a full core book like the Federation, Klingons, and Ferengi.

But people are hungry for opportunities to play Ferengi and other aliens as much as Starfleet and I sincerely hope that as the years unfold, the Ferengi will get the attention fans want.

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Sure, I guess My jazz example wouldn’t be a critical roll, but we have had music/performances/hobbies be crucial plot points in episodes before. There’s a voyager episode where the doc sings so well that a species wants him to leave the ship and sing for them. The Enterprise episode “A night in Sickbay” (while universally derided) ends with Archer doing performance art so well that the Enterprise gets some crucial spare components. Spock’s ability to beat the computer in chess is a plot point in a TOS episode. . .

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Yet many other RPGs have six stats (Str, Dex con etc) - sometimes, as mentioned above, its not necessarily making something bespoke, its about using the flavour of the rules.

For example, a character playing music. I could argue its Science, as music is closely related to Maths, especially if I was looking for accuracy rather than “soul”; and if I was using it as a language (like Phantome in the Voyager episode) then even Engineering might be appropriate. If I was being attacked by crystalline beings, I might try to get a certain note just right to resonate and injure them, which might be a Task, combining Science, Medicine and Security

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The Enterprise example with Archer’s performance is a good one. There are stakes in play for success and failure, which implies it’s time for a Task, and you’re back in the boat of the six trained disciplines not mapping all that well to the challenge at hand.

On the other hand, in that example, were I the GM, I would probably be inclined to simply let Archer’s player succeed at the task, because it was a character development moment to swallow their pride and go through with the performance. That makes for a good enough story on its own, I don’t need math rocks to impose their will on things after the fact.

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Ferengi are given details in the Alpha Quadrant sourcebook, along with a bunch of other species and their cultures, worlds, etc.

A character’s jazz session is as good as the player wants it to be, unless there’s a dramatic question hinging on their performance in the story that would warrant the need for a task roll. Are they being judged and if their performance sucks, some omnipotent being will snap their crewmates into oblivion? Sure, then attempt a task with the attribute and discipline most appropriate to the situation, give it a difficulty, and have the character roll them bones. If there’s no dramatic reason to roll the dice, then as GM say ‘yes, and’ and describe the scene with the player and get on with the game.

Control + Command or Control + Engineering would likely work well for a performance with an instrument.

EDIT: shofixti covered it really well.


Don’t forget foci.

Having a focus in a given skill area (e.g. jazz music) is how the system makes up for the broadness of the department ratings. A character with a high department rating is merely good at that skill set; with a focus, they can become a virtuoso. Especially if backed up by a value-driven determination point or an appropriate talent.

Momentum and assistance rolls (in the form of preparations) may also be relevant at achieving a high degree of success.

(And before someone points out that with six foci, you can’t possibly cover all the options, remember that a good GM will be setting challenges for their PC’s skill sets - so no throwing chess challenges at a crew with no chess players!)

If the music challenge, for example, is important enough that you want to make it the centrepiece of a story, then it presumably has some point in the ongoing plot. If this is diplomatic, it may be worth looking at the Social Conflict rules: the performance is just one part of the whole process.

This system is quite deliberately trying to move away from the huge lists of specific skills that blighted older attempts at this setting in favour of broader options that simplify the gameplay and encourage more roleplaying. It can take a little getting used to, but it works surprisingly well with a little lateral thinking.

Regards civilian/non-Starfleet characters, it’s certainly possible to extrapolate how to handle them, but it does take some thinking. However, while there’s an argument that Starfleet officers are hyper-competent, this game does reflect the show reality, which is that series regulars are roughly equivalent, regardless of the source of their training. We’ve got an exchange conn officer in our game, but we just used the basic rules to generate him: the player simply reenvisioned some of the details to fit his character conception.


Couple of thoughts. On the artistic task idea, i.e. a jazz recital, if it is something vital to the scene, or even the vital lynchpin of the adventure, and for what ever reason none of the stats apply; maybe use a Value and Momentum spend. Proportionate to the difficulty and desired degree of success, of course.
As to non-Fleet heroes, the Twenty Third, TOS campaign I am playing in has a possible “final legacy of his world” character the crew found on their openning adventure. He is the only one of his kind, once their representative and living embodiment, with unique traits and abilities. There is ample framework in the Core Rules to make such a being. Adaptibility is one of the things encouraged in this game system, and really all good RPGs.

I had forgotten about it until you all mentioned Jazz music and dramatic question hinging on the performance.

I read a book based off Heinlein’s notes “Variable Star” . The protagonist is a saxophone expert, and one of his friends is in a deep depression (someone died or something, I can’t remember exactly) and it is critical for the ship that he gets out of his funk. The hero practices for weeks and makes an amazing song in honor of his friend. It helps him finish the morning process and snaps him out of the funk.

So yes, I could see a scenario like this (for any game not just Star Trek).

As for the attempt(s). the attribute would be presence of course, but the science would be critical (it was a perfectly composed piece) , then medicine (he made it perfectly to pull up the suppressed emptions and helping him work through mourning process) and then command (because it was made so engaging and impressive and heart felt).

I’m not experienced enough with this system to say exactly how I’d handle it btb, but it would fit ‘Traveller’ and the task chain would be perfect.

Now, I will also agree that I’d love a book or something on non Star Fleet based characters. Something for a merchant (free trader, or a boomer) a colonist, or other things. Of course you can reskin the btb to make one, but more books are more good (well to a point, the 2e splat books and 3e crunch books did go tooooo far)

Somehow the idea that fathering a child took weeks of practice and was how he topped off his mornings makes me wonder if this is perhaps why Starfleet decided to add family quarters to their big 24th c starships. Doing it to honor a friend though…a little weird.

sorry unfortunate type o … song not son