Holograms - how do they work in game?

I have my first Hologram PC in my latest campaign. Hes an ECH, Emergency Command Hologram, who takes the role of Ships AI and Operations Manager. However I’m a little confused by the Stress, Physical interaction, combat and conditions aspect of this character.

A hologram is obviously a programmed entity that has access to a wide database of skills and knowledge. It would be adversely affected by power outages, EMPs and computer viruses etc but less by biological conditions or exhaustion or hunger etc.

How are other GMs handling the Stress mechanic on their Holograms? I’ve ruled that the stress is affecting their Mobile Emitter so once its at zero or takes “an injury” then begins fizzling, crackling and becomes glitchy as the ME drops to the floor.

Its repaired or healed by Control+Engineering with any Focii in Holographics or Holoprogramming applicable.

How does the Hologram affect other combatants?

Are their physical attributes and appearance fixed? Can they be reporiogrammed to look like something else?

Any advice/guidance? What was the intention here @Modiphius-Jim and @Modiphius-Nathan ?

Fundamentally, it’s more about interpretation. Stress is roughly the ability to avoid serious harm, which applies as much to a hologram as to a flesh-and-blood creature. Injuries represent a loss of function to the point where you’re unable to act, either temporarily (nonlethal) or permanently (permanent, without immediate aid).

From the mid-24th century onwards, tactile interactive holography is enabled by the OHD - the omnidirectional holographic diode - which is a combination of image projector and forcefield generator, which additionally has the ability to remotely produce directional sound. In a contained holodeck environment, this is paired with replicator technology to recreate simple matter, synthesise smells, and produce food and drink. But for an autonomous hologram, it’s just the images, sounds, and forcefield projections to simulate mass.

So, there’ll be situations where an attack or effect that might harm organic crew wouldn’t harm a hologram. Poisons, diseases, and toxins can’t affect a hologram… but some forms of exotic radiation or energy emission might disrupt the holomatrix and cause problems (i.e., damage), and that could include phaser and disruptor blasts through the forcefield.

Further, depending on when your game is set, mobile holoemitters will vary in sophistication. A hologram projected by static emitters might be more able to adjust their matrix to allow objects to pass through them (as the Doctor demonstrates early in Voyager), but the Doctor’s mobile emitter was also a unique invention based on 29th century technology. Attempts to recreate that tech earlier in the timeline might have limitations or simply project less-durable projections. We’ve seen autonomous holograms (as well as for realtime telepresence) in Discovery’s 32nd century future, but never in an environment that lacked emitters, so we’ve got no examples of more-advanced mobile emitters yet.

In combat scenes, treating a hologram more or less the same as an organic character is fine - they’re experiencing the situation differently, but the outcomes are essentially the same, just described a little differently. Attacks can be potentially disruptive to the hologram or the hardware projecting it. A non-lethal injury is the hologram dematerialising temporarily but with no lasting damage to the hardware or software. A lethal injury represents serious damage to hardware or software (or both) which requires immediate attention to avoid losing the program permanently. And yes, using engineering and holography-related focuses to ‘heal’ holograms makes sense.


Thanks @Modiphius-Nathan, I kinda knew I wouldnt be far off the right track but its always nice to understand what the intent behind the RAW is/are/were.

Does the Talent “Mobile Emitter” for Holograms supersede the need for a ship to be equipped with some clever network of holo-emitters to allow free movement?

For a time, yes. The talent is described in full in the Voyager Crew PDF (p. 9).

Even the Doctor did not constantly use his mobile emitter. And his one originated in the 29th century. Thus, having at least one area of the ship equipped with holo-emitters seems like a good idea. In any area of play (except maybe in Discovery’s 32nd century; I haven’t have the possibility to watch that series, yet), I’d treat mobile emitters as experimental technology with its own quirks and problems.

Thus, depending on the era your game is set in, I’d propose to even require opportunity (or even escalation) costs to use a mobile emitter.