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Mutiny in my crew?

----possible spoilers for Starter Box Campaign----

Hey everybody. So I started GMing STA a little while back in our former D&D group. And since we all had to learn the system first I decided to start off with the campaign from the starter box set. The problem is that we have two people who don’t know star trek very well or at all but we told them about the basic principles of star trek and all. However, one of those two became the Captain. (I let the players decide and figured we’ll see how it goes because I don’t want to decide this for them)
So long story short the Captain decided at the end of the campaign that he wants to tell the Mother Creature of the neural parasites that he will accept her offer to let them go, they will then infiltrate the Romulan Empire and never have war with the Federation, but only if they leave their weapons. He would then leave the room and shoot them in the back. Needless to say that I feel this is not very Starfleet-like. We ended the last session (due to time reasons) with the engineer shooting at the captain because he didn’t accept any neural parasite leaving the room and the captain didn’t allow any discussion he simply decided that’s what’s gonna happen.

So my problem now is: I feel like I have to court-martial the engineer. But I also feel like the Captain has to be “disciplined” in some way. On the other hand I don’t want to ruin the group but I am not sure how to continue with this crew. Any suggestions?

Also I don’t know yet how exactly the situation will turn out since we haven’t continued playing yet.

What do your players feel? Do they approve this pvp course of action or are there some disagreements or differences in opinions and expectations? This situation narratively seems very interesting but you all need to be on the same page.

I was told that problems with players should not be solved “in character” and “in game”, because this does not improve or repair anything. Speak with your group about your concerns, let them say about theirs - and think collectivly what is best direction or outcome for this situation. Make them feel that all of you are responsible for your game and story.

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This sounds like a perfect instance for a JAG session in which both officers are subdued and a trial is help, with other officers of the ship testifying about what occurred. Maybe have someone station elsewhere lock out computer controls where this is occuring and uses transporters to put captain and engineer in Brig and the Mother Creature and parasites into a stasis pod. I envy you the possibilities!

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Hmmm… has this Capt recently grown a goatee and shown a preference for sleeveless uniforms?

If the players decide they regret this plot twist and are looking to restore the campaign’s moral compass, maybe the Capt isn’t who he seems to be?

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Two things to think about: Firstly, it might be worth asking if the players need to have a conversation. One player character attacking another is a pretty serious state of affairs and you need to watch out for an underlying conflict, or a situation where one or more players have an OOC problem with the way your Captain player is behaving IC. Sometimes a player goes too hard into “it’s what my character would do” at the expense of other people’s fun.

Secondly, if there isn’t an OOC problem between anyone at the table I don’t see any reason you couldn’t resolve this all ingame. In one of my campaigns, the chief medical officer got brigged for disobeying direct orders from the XO (their characters hate each others guts). The CMO is pretty far on the renegade side for a Starfleet officer, so she immediately made friends with a criminal also in the brig who the security chief had failed to interrogate, got her to make a deal and so got released without charge. This all happened in character without me having to intervene! Even though one character firing on another is more serious, it’s still largely up to the characters what happens next (and you just have to prepare for all the various possibilities :stuck_out_tongue: )

The engineer:

  • Will have probably multiple negative reputation influences for this
  • The captain will need to decide how he wants to handle the situation - it’s an officer under his command, so it’s his call rather than Starfleet Command (i.e. you)
  • The Captain’s player needs to understand the stakes: charging and court-martialling the engineer could permanently cost the player his character (or if the court finds the Captain’s actions wanting, could backfire)
  • Brigging, reduction in rank, reprimand all options of lesser severity
  • One of the hallmarks of roleplaying games is that player actions can have serious, lasting consequences. Rash actions should have results. Nevertheless, literally taking away someone’s character is a big, big step, so as GM you may want to find a way to avoid that rather than necessarily prioritising a ‘realistic’ outcome

The Captain:

  • Negative reputation influence(s) can represent Starfleet’s quiet disapproval and increased scrutiny.
  • I’d say this is a matter for a stern communique from an Admiral rather than a board of enquiry or anything. Not all consequences have to be instantaneous - a crew might be quietly shuffled to duties of lower importance and have to win back Starfleet’s confidence. You can give them those opportunities - stumbling across a serious situation or threat on a boring and “safe” survey or patrol mission etc.
  • With that said, Starfleet has no shortage of Captains (and especially Admirals!) who favour a more… ‘ends justify the means’ approach. Your Captain may not be acting in the best traditions of Starfleet, but it may be that Starfleet Command sees his solution as a necessary (if unfortunate) compromise of the ideals of the Federation.

There’s one other possibility to prepare for of course. If enough of your senior officers decide to side with the engineers, you have a proper mutiny on your hands and they can choose to remove him from command. There are a load of interesting storytelling opportunities there but you’ll need to decide how you want to handle that outcome.

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Thanks for all your input!
I just wanted to share how it all turned out in case somebody else has a similar problem reading this thread;)
So first of I talked to everybody out-of-game but in fact nobody really had a problem with the situation it was more of a “this is an interesting situation let’s see what happens” thing.
In game the whole scenario led to a fight between the parasite-romulans and the crew because the parasites realised that the engineer is basically the one that stands between them and walking away. In the fight the mother creature was killed.
After that I decided (with the players) to have a full court martial for both the engineer and the captain mainly because we wanted to see how this would play out^^
So I had everybody describe what happend and what they thought of it and also sometimes asked follow-up questions. I did this twice once for the engineer and once for the captain.
In the end the engineer had some really good arguments but he basically acted too quickly and still was insubordinate so he lost a rank. The captain also had a very good defence so he only lost some reputation.
The fun part about this is that the engineers character history had him helping the Maquis before joining starfleet so he quit starfleet after hearing that there would be no serious repercussions for the captain and is going back there (I have to say I talked about this with him beforehand so I knew he would be okay with it).
Since my plan all along was to send them to the gamma-quadrant for exploration and then have them stranded there after the dominion war breaks out I am now going to put a small Marquis vessel there as well and thus we will have a Voyager-like they have to reluctantly work together situation.
So I’m actually really excited about how it all turned out, it’s gonna be a lot harder to prepare but hopefully more fun to play :slight_smile:

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I understand wanting to be hands off when your players are choosing roles, but the captain can make or (in this and many other cases) break the game. It’s important that they be a collaborative player and at least have some basic idea of Starfleet procedures (or else be willing to ask when they aren’t sure).

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“QUIET DISAPPROVAL”!

That Captain should be court marshaled and shot!
Dooming the entire galaxy? Those parasites would not stop with consuming the Romulans, they would continue on and on!

As for the engineer, he is bound for a whole crapload of problems for awhile.
He, a subordinate, shot at a superior officer, no less the CAPTAIN!
Starfleet will have to discipline him, but when they realize he saved the galaxy… well, I don’t know… maybe transfer him and promote him?

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if in my campaign the PC capatin would do something that is completely against the rules (for a captain) I would ask him if he really wants to do this and if he knows that this action violates every oath he swore, etc.

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There needs to be consequences. Is the Captain controlled by a parasite? If yes, then the Captain would be bringing charges against the Engineer. If not, then the Captain would be bringing charges for insubordination at the least. STA is NOT D&D where there is no control over a PC’s actions. It is a military organization with a command structure and rules to live by. I should think the Sector Admiral or division Admiral would have something to say about the Captains report. Allowing the parasites to exist and gain control of a major power, like the Romulans could have disastrous results for Galactic peace. I cannot imagine a circumstance where an Admiral would condone such an action - unless the Admiral were infected himself. From here you can have fun with a JAG trial for the Engineer, who, once the truth comes out - might just end up looking at promotion and possibly a transfer to a new ship. (Although Spock was exonerated for kidnapping, theft of Starfleet property, insubordination, and gross violation of General Order 7, the stricture against Starfleet vessels travelling to or contacting the inhabitants of Talos IV.) Will be fun - I’m curious how you plan to play it out.

Anybody have any ideas of a great single episode to have your group watch before starting a Star Trek campaign, with these sorts of issues in mind (Starfleet conduct and ideals)?

Maybe TNG 5x19 “The First Duty”?

Also, TNG 4x21 “The Drumhead”, TNG 1x08 “Justice” and TNG 5x17 “The Outcast” come to my mind.

If you prefer the other series, my first thoughts have a look at: ENT 1x07 “The Andorian Incident”, ENT 4x22 “These Are The Voyages”, VOY7x15 “The Void”, VOY 5x09 “Thirty Days”, or VOY 6x20 “The Good Shepherd”.

I have only occasionally watched TOS, so lots of people around here are way more competent to issue suggestions regarding TOS. I have no idea about TAS, but am sure that there is an iconic “lawful good”-portraying episode (on a side-note: If your players are familiar with the D&D alignment system, you may use this reflection of iconic STA GM Eric Campbell on STA to convey a little bit about Starfleet values and conduct).

Regarding DS9: Together with TNG, I, personally, like DS9 best. But I have no idea about a specific episode and would be curious myself what other posters think.

I have yet to watch DIS, so I have no recommendations on that series.

I would also recommend VOY 5x26 Equinox" / VOY 6x01 “Equinox, Part II”, but that’s technically not a single episode.

Sorry for the wall of text. :slight_smile:

for TOS

Patterns of Force, A Piece of the Action are really good and show problems from interference
Bread and Circuses is also good

others mention it but these are particularly good

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Which era?

I see by your Kirk avatar you might prefer TOS.
“Balance of Terror”, “Devil in the Dark”, “City on the Edge of Forever”…

There are many, but to get a feel for Starfleet and Star Trek, you might want to have a marathon day and watch several episodes. In a lot of ways it isn’t how they (the Federation crews) acted in one episode but how they approached problems over time.

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I would like to add VOY 7x21 “Friendship One” to the list. :slight_smile:

@Falconer if you’re still searching iconic episodes of Trek, you might be interested in the recommendations of the Crew of the Web-Series Clear Skies (as of the Q&A Session on 6 Jan 2020 (Twitch, QueueTimes)):

Discovery starts with a mutiny resulting directly from a disagreement on how to deal with an alien encounter (specifically Klingon religious fanatics), although there is … um … disagreement on how well it was handled :slight_smile:

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How many times should Burnham be charged with mutiny / insubordination by now?

I think only 1 count of mutiny - but insubordination is definitely an issue…

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Wait till Disc 2 season ending.