Holodeck practice combat

At the beginning of my adventure there will be holodeck combat simulation for player characters. I would like to make it hard and challenging (it is a Borg), so there is a question:

Should I use threat points on holodeck? After all there is no real danger for these people. What do you think? How do you handle practice combat? Are complications real or should I ignore any rolled 20?

If players want to buy dice with Threat, they should be able to do that. And the GM should of course feel free to spend Threat.

Spending Threat or complications do not necessarily have to put the characters in physical peril. A holodeck simulation should normally not endanger the character’s lives (unless of course the adventure is designed to do so).

Complications could mean that the characters have not noticed additional drones transporting in behind them or they have a weapons malfunction. The end result could be that the characters were not as prepared as they thought they were against the borg and did not complete the simulation with stellar results. Or they are killed in the simulation. While this is not physical peril, it may nevertheless hurt the ego of security officers.


fluor, just looking at the thread title makes it immediately apparent that this is one of those “Meh, we’ll figure it out as we go along,” things that are left to the GM/Players to do personal adjudication on. As STA does not deal with experience points, “levels”, advancements or the like, the whole Holodeck issue can, I think, become not much more than a gaming abstraction. Since the Holodeck, by its nature, cannot threaten life, there should be no cause for Threat as a game mechanic. On the other hand, it is meant to function as a skill/ability-sharpener, and even from a role (as opposed to roll)-play position, it’s not going to do much good as a programmable target-shoot.

I would, after some quick thought, propose the following: that when engaging the Holodeck, a “Threat level” is specified, whereby by the computer can call up to x-level Threat to endanger the players. There should be, I think, a specified “safe word” or code that will shut the simulation down if things get too nasty, or the Threat is used in a way that the Players don’t like. I consider the “Descent” episodes from TNG season six/seven, where Data used the Holodeck to jack up the simulated Borg’s strength to the point where it potentially could overcome him. An analogous gaming situation might entail creating an opponent who had three-plus Threat they could call up, forcing the Players to use Momentum to counter; and which they could earn in kind, to hopefully deepen the role-playing experience. Such Momentum points could be limited in use to the Holodeck itself, and would disappear as soon as the simulation ends or the Players exit the room.

Anyway, gone on enough with this; in any case, good point and question, and something that the STA Devs can hopefully comment on and provide some direction with.

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I’d treat it as real as any other situation. There may be no-kill conditions in place, but characters do suffer injuries in holodeck/holosuite accidents plenty of times on the shows. I’d spend Threat as normal.


Thank you for your advice.

My question is more general and adjust to a number of situations, but I have one specific in mind. My plan is make PC fight holographic Borg, because we are starting Borg-themed mission, so there is more than just shooting exercise to check who is better marksman.

I would like to make sure that all players do understand what is Borg and why it is so dangerous. There are players with different level of Star Trek knowledge, so I figured out that it might be better to show than tell why Starfleet considers Borg menacing. Thus I consider possibility of “holodeath” of some.

During further part of the mission players will have an opportunity to meet with real Borg drones or just have an expectation of this kind of encounter, so I want to build up this. Also some of PC have history of service during Battle of Wolf 359, so there is a spot for some flashbacks.

As for Threat handling, I really do like David’s sugestion to have some extra Threat points added, connected with holo-oponents only. However I feel that any Momentum earned should be kept, as it represent excellent performance and team spirit, qualities that can be displayed on real mission as during tactical training.

I did some training simulations for my group before they headed off to face the Dominion in battle. Threat generated during the simulation but not used in the simulation was discarded, so the players got the full experience without any of the long-term consequences. If nothing else, it gave them an opportunity to test out the effects of adding to Threat more actively in an environment, which actually got them used to the idea of doing it more often in ‘real’ situations.

If you wanted to go further, you could even set aside the normal Threat pool, and have all Threat in the simulation be part of that closed system (so the simulation starts with, say, 1-2 Simulated Threat per PC, and the GM can’t add to or use the ‘real’ Threat unless something goes wrong with the holodeck).


I was planning on running at least one of my characters through a “Bridge Officer’s Test” on the holodeck (using normal transporter pad to ‘beam’ to the ship but beaming into the active holodeck program instead) at some point during their career. If/When I do this, or whenever they try ‘playing’ any holodeck program, this is the method that I am now planning on using.

Thank you for mentioning this. I hadn’t given much thought on how to do this yet, or if I wasn’t going to bother separating the holodeck threat from normal threat.

Something ALWAYS goes wrong with the Holodeck.

I’m planning on starting my next session in media res in a fire fight with Klingons on a planet’s surface. This is TOS, so no holodeck, but it will be a wargame against crew from another ship. Plan is that I won’t tell the players that until they (of course) win the battle, but I’m going go with your suggestion of a dedicated Threat pool. Though if that pool is reduced from starting, I may just carry it over as a reward to my players for putting up with my nonsense.

LStyer, very much appreciate the set-up for your gaming situation, and provide applause on how you’re looking at using the game-outcome in a mechanically plausible - and productive - manner. Aside from just sheer role-playing value (of which there is plenty in this game), STA does not, by design, have terribly much in terms of “crunchy” (I hate that term) rewards for players who try and see the glorious victories, and the glorious failures. Providing intelligently distributed Momentum throughout the gaming session is one of the few ways a GM has to indicate “Did well”, “Did not bad”, “Did poorly”.

The in media res start point is also, I think, a very nicely chosen aspect that will force Players to do the * ahem * PAY ATTENTION thing, which many people - in game and out - are loathe to do. I’d just make it a point that in media res is something that’s far, far better left as a major exception to the rule; A New Hope is the only Star Wars film that starts out as such. Even Revenge of the Sith begins with a situation where the viewers know what the conflict is, even if the specific context is a bit of a mystery.

In any case, I think that you’ve hit on a very nice exhibition of game/rewards balance, and look forward to reading as to how it comes out.

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