Is multiple uses of Modulate Shields stackable

My players make liberal use of Modulate Shields, as they are really good at managing to bank momentum, and willing to use extra ship power, typically they are able to push their resistance rating of their ship easily up to 15 to 20 which I am fine with. It means if I want to punch through their shields I either have to have my villain ship use scan for weakness or use threat the break through the shields. My players then usually use a targeted phaser attack using the versatile quality of the phasor attack to purchase penetration as a counter attack. This has worked really well for them against enemies using disruptors. However they have gotten information on a ship they are chasing and it uses phasers.

The tactical officer knowing that I am likely to use the extra momentum generated by the phaser’s versatile to pay for penetration he wanted to know if he could stack uses of Modulate Shields to push the ship’s resistance even higher by stacking the effect of multiple uses. I haven’t found anything so far saying he can’t. I was wondering if someone could point me to a ruling or let me know how they have ruled on it.

I am of mixed feelings on the matter as the Modulate Shield ability allows them to push the resistance of their ship up to high enough levels where you get the “shields are holding” effect and the scenes where a starship can take multiple hits and not have any hull damage or breaches, but if I really want to punch through their shield and “get serious” I have to spend threat to do so. But if multiple uses of Modulate Shields do stack, it could get to the point that not even with scan for weakness and using available threat could over come their resistance for that scene.

I’ll check with Nathan, but I don’t think it’s intended to stack. It’s a minor action to be performed at the security or tactical station.

Actually, it is a task rather than a minor action, meaning that repetition is somewhat limited.

Yet, with a group of only three players, I see the task being performed five times in a single round, even though it has to be performed at the tactical station. So a clarification of @Modiphius-Nathan would indeed prove helpful. :slight_smile:

Until then: Even if one would allow multiple use – stacking resistance in this way would mean that the attack options of the ship was severely limited in the process. Giving the NPC time to build up a harsh attack. Imagine ships flying attack patterns, creating advantages to coordinate fire (granting weapons a temporary Piercing quality) and then place a heavy blow after scanning for weaknesses. All while the Player crew does nothing but stacking Resistance.

I see no explicit rule against it. I would, personally and both as a player and a GM, be neutral-to-supportive towards a house-rule against such stackable bonuses, as (further) modulating already modulated shields seem a bit pointless and can lead to much boredom. If players insisted on stacking Resistance, I would find creative ways to still hit them. The too obvious Value of a Major Borg NPC would be a starter, followed by Compliations (introduced by Threat?) within the Shields-System. “Fluctuating Shields (on every attack, the tactical officer rolls a Challenge Die; shields are treated as 0 for the matter of this attack, if an effect is rolled)” looks rather nice in the last entry of an extended consequences (cf. GM’s Guide) table… :smiley:

With six players and their combined talents, in ship combat if I get into a spending war with threat verse momentum + ship power I will eventually lose. They can earn it and multiply it’s effects better than any NPC ship though in “Boss” fights I make them earn the win. Second, I would not dare introduce a fluctuating shields like complication, cause anything I can do with threat my players will expect to be able to fix or inflict with momentum. Two threat is 4 points of penetration. Using two threat to generate a 30% chance to negate 20+ resistance per attack sounds in my opinion arbitrary, unfair and petty.

A Borg would flip our entire campaign on its end and not in a good way. The Borg in my opinion are like the Omega Particle, when they show up everything else becomes secondary. I think it would be distracting for the intricate interstellar political wild west gold rush style frontier game that I am running and would feel very heavy handed.

I am fine if the rule is that Shield Modulation stacks. I am not out to kill my players or blow up their ship. If they put in the extra effort to keep pushing up their resistance to the point where one of my villains has to admit that they can no longer damage the players through their shields and back off, then more power to my players and what a Starfleet way to drive off an enemy. It just means my villains will have wait to return in another scene to try again. Maybe when my players have had some bad dice luck and haven’t had a chance to get a full momentum bank or when the villain is attacking a target they need to defend so the players have to be more aggressive. Maybe my villain needs to pick up some polaron weapons. I am fine with that. It makes for better villains and better stories, it also means my villains will have to shake up their attack patterns, engage in long term plots of black mail, or sabotage, or lure the players into a nebula where shields are useless. I am not going to punish my players for being creative, playing the rules to the max and designing and investing in their ship. A villain could return the favor which could be a serious challenge for players to over come if say a transporter lock is needed for some mission critical goal.

In the end it is not me verses my players, I am the narrator of a story and a referee of a game. I want tension to build naturally from the events unfolding in consistent manner with hints, clues, and cues of impending danger built upon the rules of the game. If they “lose” against a villain it is because they mismanaged their resources, made a mistake, the dice were out to get them, or they took a risk and it didn’t pan out. That type of failure feels natural, that they were bested fairly and makes them look forward to the next challenge, instead of plotting my death because I suddenly awarded a bunch of arbitrary points to Gryffindor so they win the house cup over Slytherin. (love the memes)

The fact that they had an option to “turtle” was one of the things they liked about the system. The expanded complication range is a risk they take every time they divert “maximum power to shields” usually followed with evasive maneuvers. It is not perfect, the activation roll has bitten them in the butt once with a complication and another time they failed the check outright. But it gives them more options in how they deal with situations and gives them a heads up on their enemy’s intentions based on how they respond. Does the enemy close, scan for weakness, modulate their own shields, go for a power shot dropping all the threat in for penetration, do they cloak, to they go into an attack pattern, do they go evasive. It allows them to take a more defensive and diplomatic stance without being punished for not firing first every time and I am fine with that. This is a Star Trek game after all and they are Star Fleet. :wink:

The intention is that you use only the effect of the most recent Modulate Shields task - if you modulate your shields to strengthen them against incoming attack, then someone else also does it, they’re undoing the work that had already been done and then remodulating the shields again.

If you want to bolster your defences even further, additional creativity (and judicious use of advantages and circumstantial bonuses) will be required… but if there’s a way to bolster your defences so high that you can shrug off huge amounts of firepower, then you lessen the need for creative ways to even the odds in tough situations - if you can just stack Resistance, you’ve got less need to retreat into a nearby nebula to hide and turn the whole thing into a deadly game of hide-and-seek…


Thank you for your time on this question and the clarification, I’ll pass that on to the players.