Personal Effects

Do personal effects (as per the Talent) have Opportunity costs? Someone mentioned in another Thread that they don’t have Escalation costs.

For example Worf as a DS9 character. What does he have to pay to equip his personal Mek’leth?

The character possesses some significant and uncommon item or device which is not part of Starfleet’s standard issue, but which is nevertheless useful for missions. The character may select one item with an Opportunity Cost of 2, or two items with an Opportunity Cost of 1 each. Neither items may have an Escalation Cost greater than 1.

That is the exact wording of it. From my interpretation, that means that the player doesn’t have to spend the opportunity cost for it. However, the item can not be an item that has an accompanying Escalation cost higher than 1. The escalation cost is still paid, by my understanding.

Or at least, that is how I would interpret and use the talent in my game as a GM.

Since Opportunity cost represents replicating the item or going to the cargo bay and retrieving it, it makes sense that personal effects would not have Opportunity costs because they are essentially lying around in your quarters.

That is my view of it as well. There is no need to create an item from scratch that is already made. You just have to remember to pick it up. Escalation costs still apply because just owning an item and leaving it behind doesn’t escalate the danger. Bringing it along with the intent to use it does.

Personal effects gained from the Talent still have the item’s Opportunity and Escalation costs. The Talent just gives the PC access to the items where they otherwise might not be able to get them. For instance, a PC with no experience or access to Klingon weapons takes the Personal Effects Talent and selects mek’leth (Opportunity cost 1 and one other item with Opportunity cost 1), and says it was a gift from a Klingon warrior she met while battling Jem’Hadar. The PC would never likely have access to the blade without the talent otherwise.

If the PC was sent on an away mission and wanted to bring the mek’leth, they’d still pay the Opportunity cost, since paying that cost represents the time it takes them to go to their quarters and getting it before leaving on the mission. Starfleet officers don’t spend their day-to-day with a Klingon weapon strapped to their uniform.

Note this bit from page 184 of the core: “Spending Momentum to obtain an item is required as an Opportunity Cost: time spent gathering extra items steals away potential opportunities that the crew may have, or even creates opportunities for the situation to get worse.”

The Talent gives you access to stuff the PC would not normally possess; the Opportunity Cost is what they pay to be able to use the stuff in a scene or mission.

I hate to contradict you, but Nathan had this to say on the old forum:

“You’re welcome to rule that way in play; I’m not going to come to your house and hold a knife to your throat for playing the rules to your tastes. Rules as Intended, however, the Personal Effects talent replaces any costs for the specific items chosen - you take the talent and that covers the normal costs by itself. This is primarily because still requiring the Escalation cost would diminish the worth of the Talent, and characters only have a few Talents, so their effects need to be significant.”

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Nice! I didn’t see that on the old forums. A case where the rules as intended didn’t make it into the text of the rules, I guess. We’ll have to adjust that next time we revise the core rules. :slight_smile:

In the meantime, Nathan says it well–“You’re welcome to rule that way in play; I’m not going to come to your house and hold a knife to your throat for playing the rules to your tastes.” Until we have an opportunity to clarify the rule in the books, I’m inclined to GM it as needing the Opportunity Cost. Every other GM is, of course, welcome to adjudicate as they see fit.


With the original interpretation the Talent would be wasted if you do not pick an exotic piece of equipment such as a Bat’leth. It would not make sense to e.g. choose a Holographic Imager since you can find it anyway on a ship.

The cool thing about Nathan’s take on this issue is it now makes sense to have a personal holo camera because at the very least you ignore the Opportunity Cost of it.

I still think you should pay the Escalation costs, because beaming down with a Bat’leth seems rather hostile, no matter if its a family heirloom or standard issue.


Agreed. Also, Escalation is not a cost that the players actively pay out of their own game resources (Momentum), it provides a resource to the GM.


It’s important to note that opportunity cost doesn’t always have to be paid, at least as how I understand it - if an away team has hours to prepare for a mission and the security officer decides before they leave that they wants to take an type 3 phaser, they wouldnt have to pay the opportunity cost (just the escalation), as they have time to prepare this and the equipment isnt uncommon. Should they be half way up a mountain and decide they might need the same phaser, this is when you pay the cost.

I mention this because it’s important to note that with this talent its effectively just making equipment more readily available to the crew member. In the case of the Mek’leth with worf- that equipment wouldnt normally be on a Starfleet ship, but his talent allows him to access it, and assumes he usually has it on or close to his person.

That’s my understanding anyway


In the case of the Mek’leth with worf- that equipment wouldnt normally be on a Starfleet ship, but his talent allows him to access it, and assumes he usually has it on or close to his person.

That’s my understanding anyway

I disagree - in part, due to Nathan’s comments during the playtest, but also…

Going by both TNG and DS9 on screen, Worf seems to keep his weapons in his quarters: dakh’tag, mek’leth, Bat’leth. They seem available more as an opportunity cost enabled by the Klingon trait than as a personal gear spend.

The talent feels to me that it’s for something the character almost always has… Wesley’s latest science project, Geordi’s Visor, or the Voyager’s EMH’s mobile emitter.

Likewise, I’d expect most characters who have The Ushaan will have an Ushaan-Tor on them most of the time.

Edit: just decided not to eat out before game this week, so… I got the character packs.
In the TNG pack , where he seldom uses them, Worf lacks the personal equipment talent.
In the DS9 pack, in which series he seems to use a blade a lot more often, they gave it as a talent. Then again, he’s there for the war… and when possible, in DS9 (series), he seemed to prefer hand-to-hand…

As a GM, I am going to treat both The Ushaan and Personal Property as negating the opportunity cost entirely. I’ll even allow routinely carrying it if it is reasonable (daggers, type 1 phasers, canteens, etc). The encumbrance rule still applies…

I emphatically disagree. Traits are defined (pg. 95) as being neutral, being able to have positive and negative effects.

There is nothing inherently neutral or negative about having the option to have access to racial weapons. It is a benefit that others do not have.

In contrast Geordi’s VISOR and the EMH Mobile Emitter are better suited as traits. They can both be a boon and a bane to those using them. The VISOR can allow Geordi to see things other have missed, but it can be removed and blinding him, or it can be compromised and lead to the destruction of the ship. The mobile emitter allows the doctor to move around and function like any other member of the crew, it will allow him to go places other cannot, but it can also be dampend or removed, shutting him off.

I was mainly using Worf as an example because it was mentioned further up. But in the given away team situation, he would have chance to go and get the Mek’leth from his quarters on the way to the transporter room, should it be something that was decided as needed. That wouldn’t require an opportunity cost. Deciding that he has it on him mid space walk on the exterior hull however would require that spend.

I do agree though that his racial trait may allow him access to that weapon anyway.

Geordi’s visor, I would argue, would be better suited as the sensory replacement (or a similar name at least) talent from the science book. I’m not sure you can put something that is vital to a person’s ability to function under the personal effects category.

@mattcapiche The Visor is essentially a tricorder directly wired into his brain.

@StephenBirks Most of the racial traits are definitely positively loaded. Several (especially in BQSB) list only positives. The stated intent is that they be able to be used as negatives; that’s not the same as being equally likely to be benificial or detrimental.

Likewise, it doesn’t follow that others can’t do likewise with racial weapons, save that Betazoids and Bolians seem unlikely to have racial weapons. Vulcans should have access to an Ahn’Woon via an Opportunity cost spend, and maybe the Lirpa. Andorians, the Ushaan. Aardanians, their trowel. Sulu, his foil.

The Ushaan talent provides not just the weapon, but additional skill.

@aramis that’s not particularly accurate. That’s similar to suggesting that someone with a hearing aid effectively has a DAB radio wired into their brains, which would he false.

The only advantage a visor gives is that it allows someone to see a larger portion of the visual spectrum. In fact, Saru or an Efrosion (I believe) both have a similarly increased level of vision. Other than the ability to see at all that is.

So then GM is free to decide what negative aspects there are. Also traits do not need to have any mechanical effect. It could be completely RP & social based. e.g:

  • The Ardanan’s are viewed as somewhat primitive sociologically speaking as they have a caste system. Rather unenlightened by modern Federation standards.
  • Benzites that do not use breathing apparatus are called out by some as being genetically enhanced, which is widely shunned by the Federation. Others may be disgusted by it.
  • Rigellian Chelon may have problems with certain fine motor skills because of their shells
  • Rigellian Jelna Exosexes may find remaining calm alot harder than others
  • Risians may be seen as simpletons and target for exploitation due to their eternal optimism and open demeanor.
  • Xindi Arboreal may be easily blinded by bright light
  • Xindi Primates may be excluded from sensitive missions due to their inherent fair and honest nature.
  • Xindi Reptillians may be compared as being dishonorable Klingons
  • Xindi Insectoids may be excluded from long term assignments due to their lifespan
  • Zakdorn may be seen as being arrogant to a fault about their reputation as master strategists and may have trouble forming friendships

IMO Traits should be used to influence the story as much as the mechanics, and traits should not be used to replicate talents.

Technically, all items of equipment are traits. Weapons and armour have extras on top that tie into the combat rules, but saying “these items are traits” is redundant, because the equipment chapter is largely written with the idea that equipment is a list of traits.

It’s worth noting that there are a few occasions in DS9 (and onwards) where Worf has his mek’leth without any clear indication of where he got it from. We know he owns a bat’leth from TNG, where he keeps it in his quarters, and he’s entered competitions with it… but it’s not something he ever really uses outside of those specific environments. But when Klingons board DS9 in The Way of the Warrior, part 2, Worf is fighting with his mek’leth (a weapon invented for the show because Michael Dorn wanted something more compact and less cumbersome than a bat’leth). During his spacewalk in First Contact, he doesn’t visibly have the weapon on him when they set out (I’ve just rewatched the clip)… but when a drone gets too close, he draws it to fight (it’s shown to be tucked in the small of his back, between the space suit and the hard-shell torso-piece over the top). He couldn’t have gotten it from his quarters (he doesn’t have quarters on the Enterprise-E, and his quarters are currently 310 years in the future relative to him), so he must have had it on him during the earlier space battle, and maybe even before that when setting out from DS9.

So, there’s an argument to be had that, like standard issue equipment (comm badge, phaser, tricorder, appropriate tools, etc), a character with Personal Effects or other item-giving talents can be assumed to have the item on them (or quick to hand) whenever needed. I could honestly go either way on Escalation cost for personal effects these days - the Escalation cost is more about perceived intent (entering with a phaser rifle conveys a different intent than entering without one) so I can see it applying even to personal effects, but those items shouldn’t have an Opportunity cost because it’s been selected as a definitive part of the character.


Intriguing. I’d never considered it that way but does make sense. It does change my perspective things.

Or Star Trek’s 24th century does have a version of Hammerspace…

Wesley’s latest science project is actually a nice idea for a Personal Effects item. I totally disagree with the Visor and the mobile emitter. Those are items that are inherit to the character. The character has essentially no choice but to equip them. Similar to Picard’s artificial heart. The characters just have those always equipped.

In case of the Visor, it could be tied into the Sensory Replacement Talent that was mentioned earlier, but I don’t think this is a good fit. Since the Visor can be easily lost (as seen numerous times), it shouldn’t be a Talent, but a normal character Trait. Sensory Replacement is more like a Borg implant or something that is essentially always positive.

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