Question about hand phasers or The NON-Canon Cannon

Edit: Sorry for this …my original post below is rather confusing. Chalk it up to no sleep in last 48 hours. What I’m trying to ask is really two questions:

  1. Generally, how do people find the energy weapon combat in the game? Is it very lethal or not so much?
  2. Has anyone ever had their players or NPCs make deliberate use of the disintegrate settings on phasers or disruptors?

Thanks for patience.

This may have already been answered in playtest but how lethal do people find the combat rules, in particular the use of hand phasers and disruptors which seem capable of casually disintegrating people? The only mention of it I see in the rules is that I can use my GM authority to rule that a dead character is disintegrated. Has anyone had occasions where their players used the disintegrate settings deliberately? I am interested in my players having the full range of options Starfleet personnel have but am wondering about some of the tactical options inherent in a box the size of my cellphone that appears capable of taking the top off a mountain at ten klicks…

Never had a player opt to use that level of force on an NPC.

And, the maximum size I recall seeing disintegrated by a type 1 is under 2m, unmoving, and takes many seconds of continuous fire.

In Star Trek, your players have the magical ability to teleport anywhere (transporters), they have magical boxes that will grant wishes (replicators and holodeck), everyone carries a wand of disintegration (phasers and disrupters), they can regenerate lost limbs and resurrect the dead (med bay), all-seeing crystal ■■■■■ (crystalballs, thanks Mr. Filter) of scrying (sensors and tricorders)…

Their “tactical options” are pretty great.

I use TNG TM and the publically available TNG/Voyager series bibles as the best internally consistent basis for the tech in Star Trek . Type 1 and 2 can do up to setting 8 which is:

"• Setting 8: Disruption Effects; discharge energy 15,000 for 1.75 seconds, SEM:NDF ratio 1: 3. Cascading disruption forces cause humanoid organisms to Vaporize, as 50% of affected matter transitions out of the continuum. The damage index is 120; all unprotected matter is affected and penetrated according to depth/ time.

Sternbach, Rick; Okuda, Michael. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Technical Manual (Kindle Locations 3347-3349). Simon & Schuster, Inc… Kindle Edition."

but also Type 1s in ToS are seen to disintegrate at least one person instantly at point blank range (think it was City on the Edge of Forever where a man steals McCoy’s phaser and kills himself while trying to figure out what it is).

I hope this is on topic with your question.

Players must declare if they are making non-lethal or lethal attacks even on “disintegrate” setting.

We had an andorian security chief deliberately kill andorian assassins while being attacked on Andoria. These were HtH attacks but the point being when he realized each lethal attack was wracking up threat for the GM he stopped.

Few things off the top of my head to remember:

Crew support (npc’s) can take the “hit” for players thus avoiding that klingon disruptor hit. This is invaluable.

2 momentum or a complication can avoid an injury - once

1 point of determination can avoid the effects of an injury - once

Generally, lethal combat, unless absolutely necessary is a last resort of Starfleet.

Yes…that’s exactly what I was looking for. Thanks. My original post should have said the “Non-canon cannon” because the TNGTM isn’t canon any more I guess. My questions were very unclear. But in any case thank you.

Do people find the combat very lethal or not so much?

Glad to help. Writing this stuff out actually helps me to remember to rules as well. : )

By “lethal” do you mean being killed or quick to get knocked out or both?

Actually both would be great.

Crew support (npc’s) can take the “hit” for players thus avoiding that klingon disruptor hit. This is invaluable.

… the redshirt rule!


No player characters have been killed so far, but there have been some very close calls, particularly when facing Klingons or Romulans. Disruptors can deal a lot of damage with their vicious trait, and still leave room for the aim minor action to improve hit probability.

Ground combat is easily more dangerous, more tooth and nail, than ship to ship combat.

One game we had an alien that was essentially as tough as Romulan Bird of Prey and fired a blast at the players. Whoever was hit was going to die. They had one red shirt (npc) with them and he ended up taking the hit for one of the players.

Players have basically 2 chances to stay on their feet and if f you’re rolling enough damage dice, someone’s going down pretty quick. I try to keep this in mind when assigning security scores to opponents.

Also, STA is a cinematic game. I use threat to support this as opposed to “It’s the GM vs the players and I’m going to crush them into dust because I can.” However, there has to be a chance of death or defeat in games or it gets boring, imo.

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I actually ran the game only once (so sad). I ran the portion of “Signals” that is contained within the Quickstart Rules because it was kind of a one-shot adventure for us (we are still finishing my fantasy campaign).

Regarding the second question: No, no disintegration was used.

But it was agreed among the group that energy weapon (ground) combat actually is tough. In the final fight, two got down and one was on the edge of being killed. Interestingly enough, they did not complain too much about the energy weapons, specifically. They would rather complain about the way cover works in STA. Even days after the game, one member of my gaming group would text me about how bad it was that cover would not modify chance to hit but damage received. I got in an intense discussion about stochastics, there (luckily, he’s an engineer so actually understands that better than I do).

Combat is a bit swingy… Bad rolls can turn the tables.

Security character types can be impressive… 6d damage vs unarmored is sounding about 1/3 of the time. MCCs will be better rounded and start higher on discipline, so also on damage…

When the lethal damage comes out, my playtest players made use of cover. Note that It takes at least 5 damage twice to kill a PC… One to trigger an avoid, second to actually wound. Then the PCs need to lose or retreat without the PC… Otherwise, a medical check can stabilize for transport.

The wounding rule has taken down impressive PCs… 17 stress and 2 point armor… A 7 point hit can drop him. That’s doable on 4 dice damage … And likely on 8 dice. With a momentum, 7 point hits are possible on 3d.

The 5 damage = wound makes things pretty straightforwardly dangerous on both sides.

It is possible to get 2 wounds on a single attack (one from 5+, one from running past the end of the track), and if a player set to maximum, I’d allow a double wound to be a disintegrate.

I have yet to actually run the game myself (or play it) but one thing I noticed about the way handheld energy weapons (and ship energy weapons) work in the game is fairly set. No matter which weapon you fire. On the ground, you need to specify if you are using lethal or non-lethal, but deal the same number of damage dice all the time.

To me, this doesn’t make a lot of sense when talking about TNG era handheld phasers. They had a variable setting for the power of the weapon. More than just the ‘set phasers to stun’, they could set it to minimum or maximum or a number in between. There doesn’t seem to be a rule for this in the game, so one thing I was thinking of doing with my group was letting them have a variable setting.

For example, a character with a Security Discipline of 3 using a type 1 would be able to set their phaser on minimum and roll the minimum of 2 dice for damage. Max would be 5 dice. Using a type 2 would be 3-6 dice. Type 3 would be 4-7.

Using this method, disintegration would only be possible on maximum setting, with 3 or more effects unless the target was already down/dead.

In my opinion, this would allow for ‘warning’ shots or specifically going for disabling shots. Not to mention, it would allow for Wargame scenarios between Starfleet vessels without constantly dealing a ton of damage. (Granted, it is fairly easy to simply say they are simulated shots and low-power attacks.) I think using this method would work for space combat as well, either in a simulated combat scenario like the Hathaway under Riker attacking the Enterprise D under Picard, or specifically for disabling a small craft without completely destroying it.

Equally importantly, lethal combat can reinforce the in-setting philosophy of avoiding combat in favor of “Red” or “Blue” solutions wherever possible.

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Both of these responses are understood. You can also safely assume that the OP (me) understands that RPG GMing isn’t about me vs my players.

The root of my question has rather more to do with someone’s (Gandhi I think) observation that you must first possess the capacity for violence if your choice of non-violence is to have any meaning. I want to present my players with all the options that their in universe counterparts would have. Hence my interest in the disintegrate setting.

So I think that the Charge Quality (p. 193 of Core rules) is the designer’s way of doing this. What specifically prompted my thinking about the energy weapon combat was the observation that it was pretty unlikely to disintegrate someone using a Type 1 phaser (i.e. get two injuries out of a single attack). But that weapon has been seen to be instantaneous my lethal on screen (@ point blank range when the 20th Century man I mentioned above turned it on himself accidentally).

I was thinking of house ruling the Charge Quality to be as follows:

Charge: The weapon has an adaptable energy supply, allowing its potency to be scaled to various levels. If the character performs a Prepare Minor Action before attacking with this weapon, they may add any or all of the
following weapon Damage Effects to the attack: Area, Intense, Piercing 2, or Vicious 1. Each effect after the first increases the complication range of the attack by one.

This is part of why I was trying to get a feel for the lethality of the existing system.

To an extent the charge ability on phasers can account for this effect. You wont ever get all 16 settings on a 24th century phaser but using a minor action to add Vicious 1 turns light stun into heavy stun. Call a kill shot with Vicious 1 and now you have different levels of non-vaporization kill shots. If the target of a lethal attack has used determination to ignore an injury and takes another lethal hit before the end of the scene they could be vaporized, thus indicating one of the higher settings being used.

Not instantly. Took several seconds (about 4) - but the first thing that happened is he was frozen in place by it.

Also note - based upon the sound in that scene (Act IV of City on the Edge of Forever), he’d set it for overload… pushed the wheel forward until the whine started, then turned it towards himself and pushed the button, then 4-5 seconds of glow as he (and the phaser) cease having molecular coherence…

Ahhh thank you. Totally forgot about the overload sound…though would have expected an earth shattering lagoon from phaser phaser overload.