I’ve seen a couple of posts over the years around this, but I am still struggling with this (page 225):
… each NPC ship takes multiple Turns during each Round — one Turn for each point of Scale the ship has — representing the individual actions of that ship’s crew. However, each Task attempted after the first during each Round from any single role increases in Difficulty by 1.
What does “any single role” mean? Position? Station? Until I did a rules-re-read last night (since I am running this evening and expect ship combat, which I rarely run) I always thought an NPC ship could take as many actions as scale, but each action after the first was at increasing Difficulty, meaning that PC ships had a huge advantage - which I was fine with; although it meant that an NPC ship would have to fire as its first action, since that’s the most difficult roll to make (I run a TOS era campaign for a lower-tier ship, which means there aren’t the hugely inflated Weapons scores of TNG-era ships of the line). But I think I was mistaken. If the NPC ship (a D7, but not actually crewed by Klingons, attacking the PC’s Ptolemy-class carrying a Starliner full of diplomats in my re-write of Journey to Babel) can move, fire, regenerate power, oh and jam communications (different stations) - all without penalty - I’m going to have to rebalance the scenario quickly.
I’m afraid you’re more or less right: a role is any of the main combat roles, so Helm, Tactical, Sensors, Engineering, etc.
However, in my experience, an NPC vessel opposing a PC ship is always at a severe disadvantage. PCs have access to talents, determination and other abilities that NPC vessels don’t usually have - and most significantly, a PC vessel takes breaches to individual systems, whereas NPCs (by default at least), applies breaches to the vessel as a whole - this means a PC vessel can theoretically take 6 times as much damage as an NPC vessel of the same scale. The action and power penalties for an NPC breach are also quite limiting.
Is the difficulty increase cumulative? As in: First turn Difficulty +0, second turn Difficulty +1, third turn Difficulty +2? Or is it a static increase, as in: First turn Difficulty +0, second turn Difficulty +1, third turn Difficulty +1?
I’d argue for the latter, as NPC crews are, rules-wise, effectively one multi-focussed crew-member who is permanently overriding (p. 221) everything.
I assumed it was cumulative, but I’ve been wrong before. I based that assumption on the fact that Star Trek fights don’t normally consist of a battlecruiser standing at point blank range and blasting its target constantly! A cumulative difficulty raise would rapidly hit a point of diminishing returns.
It’s definitely not override, I thought it’s more like the swift task action (without the associated momentum cost).
The difficulty is by role. If the NPC Warbird fires its weapons twice in a round, then the second shot would be +1 difficulty to normal. If the Warbird fires threes times, then the third shot is +2, and so forth. If the Warbird fires its weapons then moves to a different location, then the difficulties are as normal.
The reasoning being that PCs have increased difficulties with reusing the same roles too. To keep the NPC ships from overpowering PC ships despite ostensible parity, they get a mirrored rule.
Once the round is over, the NPC ship’s difficulties return to normal, just like a PC ship would.
Yes, potentially, the PC ships could have an edge due to talents etc. That’s intended - PC ships are heroic and are intended to have the edge. This is no different to person-to-person combat. While NPCs (both people and ships) have traits that let them do stuff, they don’t keep up with PCs and aren’t normally quite on a par.