Trust me, I do too! I like Pathfinder for its complex character creation and advancement. I am not a min/maxer, per se, but I do like getting the most bang for my buck. My problem is talking them into trying it, instead of throwing it out - sort of a baby with the bathwater thing.
It’s worth reminding your players that their characters are already exceptional, and amongst the best of the best, because otherwise they wouldn’t be Starfleet Officers. It’s not zero-to-hero like D&D is, where you have to earn the right to play the character you want to play by grinding through levels. Because a starting Star Trek Adventures character is already plenty capable, they haven’t got far to grow beyond that, so advancement is more about occasional fine-tuning than getting infinitely bigger numbers to fight increasingly-difficult foes.
With respect, Nathan. I have made that point, several times. I must reiterate that I like the concept. The problem is convincing them. I think, in part, it may be mis-understanding the rules. Perhaps I need to re-write them…I don’t know.
Now, we heard a lot about you and your opinion on the rules, why to use them etc. And I think we all kind of agree with you.
But I had a second question.
What in particular do your players dislike?
Is it the ‘British’ style of the wording (on a side note: Examples, please! I think I can’t tell the difference in style between British and – presumably American? So I’d be interested in learning something new. )?
Is it the speed (or slowness) of progress?
Is it the intensity (or lack thereof) of progress?
Something mixed? Something I did not come up with?
And how do they respond to you, stressing that their characters are already heroes and that there is no need for so much progress in the game as they are expecting/requesting?
If they are really that ‘amped’ up to need more of a feeling of progression, have their characters changed to reflect them starting at a base 6 instead of 7 in Attributes, and 0 in Disciplines instead of 1. Then keep the normal progression.
That’d be my suggestion to give them more of a Pathfinder/D&D feel for progression.
I would disagree with that suggestion. It doesn’t sound like much if you haven’t played, or even if you have and haven’t looked at something similar, but those 2 points are huge! And its not just 2 points, its 12 whole points in total.
For context, I did try something similar - I ran a game to test out and learn the system, pitching each player as a cadet, and reduced the amount of points they could put into their characters by removing the career events section. Seems harmless and makes sense right?
Nope! It made it incredibly hard for them to complete a lot more tasks, and generally made the game frustrating. Adding and taking away points only really works if you are setting the DC of a check, rather than a number of successes.
My players dislike the lack of advancement first, and the slow pace second. It is hard to say exactly, because when asked, these communicative and intelligent folks respond by saying “I just don’t like them.” Or “It is the weakest part of the game.” I have explained that the characters they have in their hand are the best at what they do. I get the same response. As we play, they have not run across a situation they could not handle, or did not have a value or talent that could come into play.
As previously stated, I can only assume that I have done a bad job in explaining them. A couple more folks have the rules, and are reading them so perhaps, that will ease the matter.
Yes, we are Americans. It is not “y’all talk funny.” Or anything like that, it is a differing style of writing. I do not intend to be critical or slighting the authors in any way. Honestly, many of the concept in this game are new and very innovative. At least to me.
So, this might be your best argument. ‘Guys, there is no need for advancement in terms of numbers on the sheets because the game is designed that way. Look, even freshly rolled-up characters can survive and even win encounters with a borg cube.’
Maybe you can even convey this within an adventure.
Have them do a tactical training mission on the holodeck where they need to infiltrate a Borg Cube on a search and rescue mission. If there is any ‘Boss Monster’ in Star Trek, it is the Borg. Use standard rules for Cube and Drones from the books. After the adventure, tell them that these were standard Borg Cube rules and that they would have performed equally well if there has not been a holodeck tactical training mission but an actual mission with the borg.
Consequentially, if you can beat ‘Boss Monsters’ with unimproved characters, there is no need for improvement. This is Vulcan-approved logic.
Anyway, basically, the system is designed to have virtually no improvement, since improvements are going veeery slow. The system’s balance works that way. If your players want fast and notable advancements, then, frankly speaking, they want to break the game. There is nothing wrong in telling them that. If they still want to break the game, simply let them. There is nothing wrong with it.
Just don’t feel obliged to enter that arms-race with them, improving all your NPCs and threats, accordingly. If they want to change the mechanics of the game, then they (a) should change all the mechanics or (b) live with the boredom they produce themselves by easily outperforming every NPC/Threat the GM could ever throw on them. Just be transparent about that.
On a side-note: I share your sentiments. I GMed Dungeons & Dragons for years now and our play-style very much differs from the system, as designed. Not that we have any notable house-rules or stuff like that. It’s just that our style of play differs. There is much more in-character play than throwing dice around, many social encounters and virtually no dungeon-crawls (we recently did one and they actually hated it). Thus, the system as designed does not completely work. E.g. if there is only one combat encounter per ingame-day, the magic-users can throw out every spell they have, since they can easily rest after the battle and prepare all the spells again. We are very content with this style of game, but as a consequence, I award less treasure and slowed down improvement a bit. They do not have any problems and they did not run across any situation they could not handle. But some still complain about having not so many gold coins at hands as they ‘should have, according to the rulebook’. It worked for me/us looking at the encounters and how hard they actually were to see that the advancement actually is sufficient.
But if the players just want to see numbers rising high fast, then the system is just wrong for them. So they actually should rewrite it. And/or live with the consequences.
I did not understand it that way, don’t worry. It’ just that I obviously missed something a native-speaker recognised. And now my thirst for knowledge (or at least language skills) kicks in. These small differences are very hard to notice for non-native speakers like me, which is why I asked in the first place.
In lieu of advancement (levels or skill improvements) I give promotions ( limited) and medals ( Command book).
No worries. Americans and British folks are a single people separated by a common language.
I have been thinking a lot about this. I will give more examples of what I mean. Look up healing wounded characters in combat. Nothing in the index directly points to an answer. The table of contents is no help either. OK, where do I look - let me try in the Combat section…on page 177 there is a section “Injury and Healing”. OK, why wasn’t that listed in the Index? Curious. Ok let me read the section. The section starts out by saying injured characters cannot take any actions and are out of the fight. Right, I want to know how to get them back in the fight, so I read on. OK, finally at the bottom of the left had column we find the answer. Another character can perform First Aid… - “First Aid”? Let me see if that is listed in the Index - nope. Well hell, how do folks expect gamers learning the system to find things to run the game properly? Don’t get me wrong - Star Trek: Adventures is a monumental undertaking, and I think the authors have done an excellent job crafting the rules. To my mind an editor should have stepped in to make them more readable. After playing the game a while, it seems obvious that the GM would tell the Ships Medical Officer to do a Conn+Medicine roll. The GM is thinking “You are in combat doing a precise job under great stress, so Conn is best because it judges self control under duress.” But the First Aid rule calls for a Daring+Medicine, difficulty 1, to stabilize the wounded PC. Daring is for acting on instinct. I have been a Paramedic for over thirty years, and I can promise you what I do is very carefully reasoned and thought out, under extreme duress. Physicians “healing” the patient in a hospital setting have only the stress of not trying to kill the patient and provide the best chance of recovery. But then the section goes on to explain that healing requires Control+Medicine with a Difficulty of 2, and discusses tools on hand, environmental factors (Like being in Sickbay versus a tent in the field)…ok. Some will say “This guy is nitpicking”, and that may be true, but something as common as healing characters in combat is a twenty minute process of determining the rule, where it could be handled much more simply, yes - with an entry in the Index for “Injury and Healing Pg 177”. Now think about the GM running her first campaign trying to quickly locate the rule. Good luck. An experienced GM would make a call based on their experience with the rules, and that is fine - but the way the rules are written and organized leaves the neophyte scratching their head.
I have been giving this a lot of thought. I promise I will keep this short. The lack of logical progression from Normal Milestone to Spotlight Milestone to Arc Milestone baffles me. OK, as I read the rules for the fourth time, it is not a mathematical progression! OK! A leads to B which leads to C. It is more complex than that. Then I see the table on Pg. 294 - the table shows “Arc Milestones Received”, ok they are the end of plot line event…(in my mind), but the table shows the progression more difficult in one has Spotlight Milestones. If a PC has one Arc milestone, they are required to have 2 Spotlight Milestones for their NEXT Arc milestone, effectively making the next Arc Milestone harder than the first! OK, I suppose that means that my PC is living in a world in which “What have you done for me lately” is the rule. It is not until one has achieved an Arc Milestone that one can actually make a “meaningful” improvement to a character, i.e. raising an ability or gaining a Trait or Value.
Adaptation is a form of growth…
You could, however, switch to per session standard milestones, and 1 per 3 players spotlight milestones per mission (assuming 2 to 3 sessions per mission), thus giving a significant boost to advancement
Note also that increasing time between level-ups is a standard trope, found in most experience systems. Either more XP per level as level climbs, or higher cost for an ability as the ability climbs, or higher cost per ability as total abilities climb. (I’ll spare y’all the list of which game is which method).
There’s one big issue for me with the reputation system… it doesnt regress toward the middle upon being promoted. A character at 15 Rep who takes the promotion is still at 15 rep going into the check at the end of the next mission.
The fix is pretty simple: upon promotion, subtract 8 from reputation. A strong rep as a lieutenant is still going to be above average going into LtCdr… but won’t be seen as the best and brightest unless they were super high anyway.
Going back to the OP…
From what I have read, and how I understand it, Player Characters (PCs from here on) only qualify for a Milestone if they meet one of three criteria. 1) Challenging a Value to remove it from their character and gain a Determination. 2) Being injured by a lethal attack. 3) PCs spend a point of Determination to activate one of their Values or Directives or take a complication from one of their Values or Directives being activated.
If one of those three criteria are not met, they do not get a Milestone.
Even during the beta, which didn’t have milestones, most of my players used at least one determination per session. It’s not a huge wall, especially since p. 87 notes that each MCC starts each session with 1 determination. No more, no less. Hoarding them is worthless, so using them is common. I know that the first thing several players asked after their first mission was to revise a value, so it was more useful.
I may be mistaken, but I believe the purpose of Rep in regards to a promotion is to reset the Rep back to 10. Characters start at 10 Rep regardless of their rank when they are made, and is considered the ‘middle’ of the track as far as how good they are at their job.
In your above example of 15 Rep, subtracting 8 would put their rep at 7, which is below average for a base person at that level. Just because they had a good rep as a Lt doesn’t mean that they will still benefit from that rep once they are a Lt Commander. Also, if you have the Command Division, purchasing awards for their characters would remove the Rep gain. If you wanted to keep track of how much rep they have gained, you could have them put the increases they have earned overall into parenthesis next to their current Rep level.
Example: After playing for several months with a group, one character has a Rep of 14 (17) and several rewards.
(In the example, they would have earned an increase to rep of 17 points, spent among various awards, or kept towards earning a promotion.)
I chose 7 because
- It’s midway between promotion and punishment; 0-14 are neither.
- PC’s explicitly start above average.
#2 requires explication.
Page 95 notes average attribute is 8, but PC’s start with 56 total attributes (page 124), 56/6=9.3333. Even if we add the 3 ppints due to race to that average 8, it only brings average folk to 8.5 average.
Disciplines likewise total 16, while given the page 97 table, most officers should total about 8 to 10… 3 in field, 2’s in several, and 1 in remaining fields.
0 Rep is equivalent to that character being arrested for Court-Martial… and from the core rulebook: Scores of 5-9 The character’s record is somewhat uncertain, and their performance is questionable. They are viewed as being too quick to disregard Starfleet’s rules and regulations, occasionally insubordinate, or they have gained a reputation as unnecessarily reckless. If a character was just promoted to a new rank, with how good their rep was before the promotion, they would only reach this level if something really bad happened. Scores of 10-14 The character’s record is solid and their performance is satisfactory. This is the default state for a character’s Reputation.
I don’t see how attribute stat and discipline stats made you chose a level of rep that is basically punishing to the players. 10-14 is average and satisfactory for Rep, below 10 means you are courting trouble. Below 5 means you are in real trouble of losing your career. A rep of 7 right after a promotion puts the characters in hot water, especially if they didn’t do anything wrong to get to that level.
(Those italic quotes are directly from the Reputation Table on page 141 of the Core Rulebook.)
When you say “story”, do you mean session or game day?
How does it affect that system that PCs achieve milestones in the normal way as it is in the system? Do they get extra milestones?
This is for all players or only one player?
Thank you, Erosthenes, for starting this thread! It has been terrifically* enlightening to me!
*And by terrifically, I mean the original root of the word meaning to induce terror…
I, too, have looked at this advancement system as a weak point as I have come from a background of the more standard types of gaming advancement. Having not actually played a game yet is a bit of a hindrance but I will be running it as is initially. I don’t know, I may or may not have problems with my own players but I now have a better understanding of the rules as written.
Ok, by story, do you mean adventure or session?
“Ah! This is because you are thinking of it as bathwater instead of soup.”