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Pegasus-Style Phasing Cloak?

Has anyone thought about how to implement a USS Pegasus-style phasing cloak in the game? We know that there are details about Romulan and Klingon cloaks as well as the Romulan cloak that was integrated aboard the USS Defiant but those are the “traditional” type.

If anyone has implemented something like this in their games or has any suggestions about a good way to make it work and be appropriately balanced, I would definitely appreciate your input.

There are actually rules for this in the official supplements. Look at p. 259 of the Core Rulebook for the rules of common cloaking devices. A phasing cloak device should, of course, provide the phase cloaked trait to the ship using it, working just like the cloaked trait, but allowing to pass any ‘normal’ matter (there might be other things out of phase the ship could normally fly through but cannot while cloaked. Use this as a plot device.).

For the phase cloaking device itself, look at p. 62 of the Operations Division supplement. Additional to a description, it lists the opportunity and escalation costs of this type of equipment (see p. 184 of the Core Rulebook).

In addition: Since the technology is so new, I would assign a prototype trait (p. 186 f. of the Core Rulebook) to a phase cloaking device. I would think of raising the difficulty to cloak by 1. I would also assign the task to cloak to the engineering station instead of the tactical station. I would also think of modifying the decloak action to a task (difficulty 2).

Since the technology is so dangerous, I would raise the escalation cost by one or two. I, personally, would also use most or all of the Threat generated by the escalation cost to raise the complication range while the phase cloaked trait is active.

Last, but not least, since the technology is in violation of the treaty of Algeron, I would consider each use of the technology as a negative influence on reputation rolls after the mission.

In case there’s a mission directive to specifically uphold interstellar law and/or treaties affecting Starfleet, this directive would have to be challenged at least by the characters ordering to activate and activating the device. I would say that this does not fall under the standard prime directive that is always in effect to be not too harsh. But you might as well consider every breach of the Treaty of Algeron ipso facto a breach of the prime directive, meaning that the prime directive would have to be challenged any time the device would be used.

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The Prime Directive is about sheltering developing cultures, not about obeying treaties with developed cultures.

Yes, the Prime Directive entails sheltering developing cultures (precisely: pre-warp cultures). But it is broader and also does protect developed cultures. Memory-Alpha describes it as a Non-Interference Principle and rightly so. This applies to all non-Federation cultures and factions that are, to sum it up, to be left alone.

One can interpret this directive as some sort of principle of non-intervention comparable to the principle with the same name of contemporary international law. In this case, it would indeed not be applicable to interstellar treaties as it would focus on internal affairs that the Federation does not hold any (immediate) stakes in. Interstellar treaties would, in contrast, be considered external affairs as the Federation is a Party.

But one could argue that even in case of a non-intervention principle, the Prime Directive could oblige the Federation not to interfere in treaties in between foreign cultures. One could, e.g., argue that the Federation, interfering in a trade-agreement between the Bajorans and the Ferengi, would be in breach of the Prime Directive as it interfered in the affairs of others.

Just one small step further, one could interpret this directive in the meaning of a general principle of the rule of law. In this case, it would make no difference between internal and external affairs of other culture; the Federation would have to respect both. It would just say: Respect the laws that you encounter.

I, personally, would, for my games, take the position that respecting treaties with foreign powers would be a matter of Starfleet Regulations, but not necessarily the Prime Directive. But I see the other position has good arguments and would not argue that a broad interpretation in style of “Prime Directive = Rule of Law” was “wrong” of some sorts.

In my opinion, it depends on how the players see Starfleet, the Federation and their principles.

Good point Mr. X. In the DS9 three parter about the Circle, an Admiral cites the Prime Directive as a reason why the Federation can’t interfere with the Bajoran Civil War (even though the Cardassians are.)

And in the TNG 1x08 episode “Justice”, the prime directive focuses on respecting laws, not cultural development.

But, to quote Picard and Riker from this very episode (taken from Memory Alpha, link above):

“There can be no justice so long as laws are absolute. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions.”
“When has justice ever been as simple as a rulebook?”

My assumption has always been that the captain of a vessel has a great deal of leeway in how they approach the limits of the PD.

The issue is that they will then have to justify that decision to a superior officer. And it can be a full court-martial offence if they disagree…

(And this would apply to an away team commander as well - with the superior being the CO.)

…but that has nothing to do with laws or treaties. The Bajorans are a non-warp culture and the civil war is an internal affair.

No? bajorans have warp travel by then. They have vessels that go through the wormhole to separate star systems for colonization.

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The Prime Directive applies irrespective of the warp-capabilities of others. It prohibits the Federation to interfere with internal affairs, especially domestic law of foreign cultures. While not necessarily about interstellar law, it most certainly is about laws, rules and rights of others.

The Treaty of Algeron is a political resolution that isolated the Romulan Star Empire behind an iron curtain. Depending on when the game takes place, it’s relatively obsolete; the Romulan presence on Bajor and their alliance against the Dominion were both violations of that treaty, forcing amendments. But the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Trek 2009, and Star Trek: Picard void the treaty entirely.

I’d also argue that developing a cloaking device, while violating the treaty, does not in and of itself interfere with Romulan culture. The notion that General Order #1 is violated if political treaties are violated is very strange to me.

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*sigh* I should not have mentioned the Prime Directive in the first place. :roll_eyes:
(Yet, the thought that the general order to respect and uphold others’ rules would not entail to uphold one’s own rules, is very strange to me.)

To go back to the Phasing Cloak: If one plays in eras later than TNG and defines that Starfleet (or Section 31 or whoever) has developed a relatively stable phasing cloak technology, I can imagine to assign a talent of the same name to all ships that are equipped with the device. Players on a ship with said talent would no longer need to pay opportunity costs for the device. I would, however, keep the (maybe reduced?) Threat cost.

Just be careful. That is dangerous technology and it could ruin a lot of plots. Need to avoid a minefield? Cloak. Need to infiltrate a planet? Cloak. Need to get away from the cosmic space-whale latched on to your ship? Cloak.

That technology was also super dangerous. It’s been used three times. Once by the Pegasus, once by the Enterprise, and once by a Romulan vessel (in a different episode)Two out of three times it failed catastrophically.

Oh yeah. So, definetly, pull a lot of Threat. :wink:

On that note, I probably have to rewatch the “Pegasus” now, as I’m thinking whether a phase cloake vessel could actually scan its environs. If not, it could really ruin some plot-ruining. :slight_smile:

@VampByDay, I appreciate the advice to be careful about how it is used. At the current time, I am “playtesting” it as an Einstein-esque thought experiment rather than actually using it in a game. However, I would like to include it in a game at some point.

To that end, I am considering that it would require a significant amount of power to phase the ship and all its contents and crew, far more than a regular cloak uses to just surround the ship and mask its energy signature. I am also saying that, similar to its more common counterpart, weapons cannot be used while under conventional or phased cloak.

Something else that I have made part of the story/playtest is that the ship while phased passed through a Jem’Hadar battlecruiser and the ship CO and Jem’Hadar First locked eyes on one another. As both ships knew that they were in the area, both dropped their cloaks and initiated combat since, per the setting, this is during the time of the Dominion War.

The input that I am receiving in this discussion is quite helpful and I look forward to and encourage more. Each post gives me more to consider and more to envision in my mind’s eye. Keep it up, everyone! :slight_smile:

In this case, actually work with the Treaty of Algeron and the Romulans. If someone uses this kind of technology, they would definetly want to know. In case the characters used this technology too openly, maybe (I’d say: eventually!) the Tal’Shiar hears of it and wants to investigate… Thus, operation security would be really an issue.

Especially, since the technology is illegal in the Federation and the Federation generally upholds its laws (for whatever directive), the crew might have to hide their phasing cloak even from Starfleet. At this very moment, Section 31 comes into play. Do they help the characters developing and refining the phasing cloak? Do they learn the technology exists and want to steal it? What about the internal services of Starfleet Intelligence, will they launch a secret investigation against the crew?

And last, but not least, the enemy has a vital interest in such a device. Eventually, the Obsidian Order will learn that the Federation has access to claoking technology beyond the known limits. They would definetly want to steal ist – or destroy the ship with the prototype aboard. In case they tell the Dominion about it, they would of course help. In case they do not, they might already plan for a war against the dominion to break free from their yoke.

If the players use the device too openly and too often, they may end up being hunted by all powers: The Dominion and the Cardassians because they want the technology for their war efforts. The Romulans, because they do not want the Federation to have the technology (and, of course, want a sample to research). The Federation because it’s illegal and Section 31 because they do not care. And, of course, there will be the occasional Klingon who thinks a victory against a ship equipped with a phasing cloak would be particularly honourable. :slight_smile:

This raises a couple of questions that I can’t recall if they addressed in “The Pegasus” or not.

First is a matter of semantics. Does “phasing cloak” mean that the device does everything a standard cloaking device does, PLUS it can phase the ship so it can fly through normal natter? If so that. Implies it can be used as a regular cloak without the phasing if desired.

Or, and this makes more sense to me, the phasing IS the means by which it makes the ship undetectable (and then in theory another phased ship could see it and interact with it).

Second, is the phasing active, meaning the ship has to constantly use power to remain phased, or is it passive once it’s turned on, meaning the ship can remain phased as long as it wants at no cost but power equal to the initial activation is needed to unphase it?

If it’s the former, presumably you could fire while phased because your torpedoes would unphase once they left the boundary of the phasing field. But also you’d have the danger of what happened to the Pegasus - a power fluctuation or malfunction of the cloak would cause the ship to unphase even if it was flying through something.

If it’s the latter then you definitely can’t fire while phased and you also have the danger that if you have a power failure or the cloak malfunctions then you can’t unphase at all and you also can’t call for help or evacuate the ship because the crew is phased too and so are all comm signals. You’ve got a literal ghost ship.

@starkllr
I believe that the phasing cloak only had one setting which was ‘both phase and cloak.’ They never mentioned it having two settings.

Second, it did say it needs continual power, I think. That’s what happened to the Pegasus, something blew out, it floated into the asteroid, ran out of power, and de-phased, halfway into the asteroid wall.

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I had this device originally in a Star Trek RPG game using the LUG rules. It phased and cloaked at the same time, required constant power, and used up roughly eighty percent of a ship’s power.

I may have converted stats over to STA when I was looking at resuming the campaign using STA but it got put on hold. I’d need to go check to see if I did or it was on the to-do list.

I like the potential rules addressed in this thread. The Operations version is a lot of narrative attached to opportunity and escalation costs, so it’s interesting to think about how some of it actually might interact with starship traits.

What’s most interesting about the Operations book is this:

if an engineer could find some way to permit people or starships to go sufficiently out of phase to pass through matter without becoming invisible, such technology would not violate the Treaty of Algeron.

It does go on to describe a number of engineering issues, but it seems very much to me to imply that an engineering-focused campaign or adventure could use developing a non-violating phasing device as a big part of a plot.

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