Rule changes and other thoughts

Hello everyone.

After buying and playing the game, there are a number of things that didn’t make sense to me so, with a lot of stress, I started thinking and tinkering.

I don’t understand Daring. In the name, it’s a personality trait rather than an attribute. How daring a character is should be controlled by the player. Instead, i use Reason for anything technical or Control for piloting. I use Fitness for melee combat.

In roleplaying, the players only control what the character does. Part of the use of momentum is that players can affect the world space. And the GM is limited by the amount of Threat. So I don’t allow that. If I want fog in a scene, it gets foggy. No Threat needed. And players only control what their characters does.

I don’t get players to roll zero difficulty tasks just to generate momentum as this feels very fuzzy. I feel that getting momentum from doing something minutes or hours ago should not impact an action. Momentum seems to be in the game to make doing hard things possible because hard tasks can’t be done using 2d20 roles (ignore Determination and Assistance). The 2d20 system has to have momentum else the whole system crashes.

The other thing I found with momentum is that, with ranged combat, players need to already have some momentum from other tasks to be able to use it. Example: Assuming the players don’t have any momentum, in ranged combat, you need 2 successes to hit so you can’t roll more than 2 successes on 2d20 to generate momentum…unless you roll 1’s or have a focus and roll under your discipline but most players won’t have a focus in phaser combat. A consequence of this is phaser Vs creature. Rules say +1 difficulty for ranged to hit if opponent is in Close or Reach range i.e. you need 3 successes to hit. If trying to shoot a Sehlat who is trying to claw your face off, you can’t shoot it unless you have momentum already. Course of action is run away…unless another player Assists by trying to distract the creature? Of course melee combat is an opposed role so how do you resolve someone with a ranged weapon Vs someone with a melee weapon?

Speaking of which, the rule that the person who initiated the opposed action of melee combat wins if the dice roles are equal feels wrong. If it’s a draw then neither should get the upper hand.

Finally, the idea that your Security value affects how much damage you do in ranged combat only makes partial sense. If I get shot by Wesley Crusher (Security= 1), it should cause the same amount of damage as being shot by Worf (Security= 4 or 5). But that’s not how the rules are as written. So, I’ve changed it so that a phaser type 2 does 5 challenge dice of damage and removed the security bonus from all ranged weapons and gave them a specific number if damage dice. Similarly for ship weapons that are modified in the rules by the Security of the officer. But not for melee combat where I do allow the Security to affect the number of damage dice.

Maybe I’m more towards a simulation type rpg than how the 2d20 systems have been written but it’s important to me that the rules are consistent with and should reflect “real world” mechanics.

So, thoughts, suggestions?

A lot to unpack here, and I feel like giving answers to each of your points could be seen as confrontational, which I 100% don’t want. So instead let me ask you a question and add a couple of point.

What games/games do you tend to play?

As you hinted at, it sounds like you come from playing more similationist games, which STA isn’t. 2d20 games in general tend to be much more narrative, and play into the idea of joint story telling. Thats why the players can affect things outside of their characters- because its their story too.

Attributes are, in part, all linked to personality traits, but as with everything in the game have some fluidity. Flying by the seat of your pants, throwing yourself into every corner and forcing your way through a situation (which would likely be covered by daring) is a completely different approach to finding the perfect line and deftly manouvering that might be covered by Control. The same task can be attempted in different ways, and that level of fluidity is encouraged by the system.

Momentum and threat are always one of the mechanics people find most difficult to adjust to. On the GM side, it keeps you honest to making changes, and on the player side it helps make you feel like the creative heroes of a TV show. I know there are plenty of other threads that go into this topic in far greater detail.

On your phaser example, this is the same with ranged weapons on many games - they deal a set amount plus an amount dictated by skill. I suggest that Worf striking you dead center of an important organ would have more chance of doing more damage than Wesley hitting you in the shoulder.

These types of games can be a big adjustment if you are used to playing more similation or combat focused systems. I would encourage you to stick with it, and keep discussing with people to see if you can get a better feeling from how it is designed. But at the end of the day, welcome, and as long as you and your group are having fun then you’re doing it right!


I’m not sure about anyone else but when I think of Daring in regards to combat, I always picture the Captain Kirk style of combat from TOS. Like imagine how Daring it must be to throw a heavy rock at a Gorn or to throw your whole body at people sideways like you want them to catch you.

Fitness in my head by contrast was always more like “I need to push open these doors cause they’re jammed” or “push this rock up a hill”.

Meanwhile Control is “I’m using computerized tech or controlling my emotions” in my head. Firing a phaser, using a tricorder, firing the ship’s phasers, or keeping your Pon Farr from going crazy? Control
Fancy flying the Delta Flyer to avoid the Borg shooting at your aft section using more manual controls like Tom installed or flying on instinct and turned off auto-pilot? Daring. But using the ship’s auto-pilot to handle course corrections? Control

Not sure if this helps.


There’s some reflexes that need to be acquired by players:

  • fill the momentum pool, do it ASAP
  • create advantages and disable complication if you can
  • use at least momentum as often as you can because you have a greater chance to refill the pool
  • You can refill the pool on a diff 5 task too if you managed to over succeed
  • Don’t enter a scene with 0 momentum, “Close-Knit Crew”, “Spirit of Discovery” (works well on a Veteran Human Pilot, since the first scene often includes a travel), find a roll to do where you can be assisted to roll 3d20, it’s a good opportunity to use Support Characters. Captain use the “Rally” action
  • Use Support Characters, use your full support on each scenario (or at least support-1 if you want to keep one just in case)

I’d agree with a lot of the replies here. It definitely looks like you’re more interested in the simulationist style, which is absolutely fine. If STA doesn’t work out for you and you can track it down, you might find one of the older systems, like Last Unicorn’s Icon, or Decipher’s Coda, more to your liking - or one of the Prime Directive variants (such as GURPS or d20).

One point I would note is that most of these issues are combat-related. STA, like Star Trek itself, is generally not focussed on combat, so the rules are relatively simple. And as a player story focussed game, the odds are very much in the players’ favour - it’s not supposed to be balanced.

You asked about the melee rules:

A lot of players don’t notice that in melee combat both characters get an action. If two characters are fighting, the first one to act attacks and the other defends (an opposed roll which can go either way); then the second character attacks in their own action and the first defends (also an opposed roll). So it is balanced - but is possible for one character to hit twice in any given round by winning both contests - it also reflects the style of fighting seen in the show, where the two fighters will struggled for a beat before one throws the other off. Additionally, if you allow for “draws” as you suggest, be aware that your melees will drag out more and this can rapidly become dull for some players.

When a person with a ranged weapon is fighting a melee fighter, then each gets to do their own thing on their own turn. When the phaser-wielder acts, he gets a shot, and the other one can’t do much; when the uanrmed figher acts, then they play out a single contested roll as above. Using a phaser or disruptor at such close range is difficult, hence the range penalty.

That said, by all means, change the rules as much as you and your players see fit, but be aware that the game is not designed to work like that, so you will run into the occasional issue. There were several hundred play-testers on the game, and we were generally quite happy with the way it worked, although there were a few exceptions as I recall :smiley:


My opinion on Threat is that it is a tension building device. As it grows the players will glance at it and even when they don’t play their character accounting for it, the players themselves know it is there and will be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It can also reflect actions the players have made. They brought phaser rifles, and an enemy infiltration team learns of this, and brings their own rifle equivalents, body armor or personal force fields to counter, or sets traps. The use of threat in this case represents the use of hard resources the ‘bad guys’ called in and a hard limit to those resources / prep time. In the case of a natural disaster or threat, it can represent the amount of energy behind it. volcanos, hurricanes, ion storms, and even super nova’s only have so much energy. Each use of threat in this case can represent that energy being used up.

Threat also creates a sub game being played of balancing player momentum and or resources against the available threat pool. I have found builds tension, while also providing a light at the end of the tunnel. When the threat pool is empty they know that nothing else is going to pop in from left field and that the finish line should be close by. Note that some super villains arrive with their own addition to the threat pool which is another mechanic used to provide tension as well as give a game mechanic warning to players that this new arrival is either an elite group or has a boss enemy among them.

Threat is also a way to use momentum when you don’t have any. In your Sehlat example, the player could generate threat to get the extra die. It may bite them in the rear later but it may have gotten them out of being killed or incapacitated in that scene.

For the security I can see how it makes sense for a higher skill to generate more damage. In a galaxy full of hundreds if not thousands of different creatures what is an armored or vulnerable section of your target can very greatly. Security represents not only knowing how to fire a phaser but what settings work best against specific creatures, where to aim on such creatures and actually having the skill to aim for such locations while being under the stress of a combat situation.

I have mixed feelings on zero rolls / no stress rolls generating momentum. In the next game I run I am going to propose that the players start with half of the GM’s starting threat (max 6) in the momentum bank just to save time. I’d like to play around with other variations and get to something that feels less “gamey” and causing players to look for miscellaneous things to roll on just to build momentum.

Daring to me represents the confidence a character has to follow through on actions without self doubt / fear interfering with that action, especially when time is of the essence. There is a difference in knowing what to do or having the physical skill to do it and having the willpower and confidence to follow through with that knowledge and skill at the right time under pressure, especially life threatening situations. It is willpower and that talent on an instinctual level to react fast with the right amount of aggression and poise in those moments where a split second is the difference between success or failure.

However I am right there with you on being a simulation type player / GM. While the on ground stuff is things that my player and I can roll with pretty easy, it is the spaceships and that end of the system we chafe under. What is a ship’s cruising speed? Max safe speed? Emergency Maximum speed? How many torpedoes does a ship carry? Are plasma torpedoes actual physical torpedoes or are they a projected energy weapon? What is the crew complement? Was is the maximum number of passengers the life support system can support? What is the maximum number of people we could carry on the ship if we cram statis pods into every inch of available space? What is our ship’s displacement? How far is long range? What is the maximum range of our sensors under optimal conditions? What is the maximum resolution of our visual sensors? What is the distance to name a place and how fast to get there at warp 5? at Warp 7? At whatever maximum warp is and don’t give me that speed of plot non-sense?

These and many more, are questions I get about the starship portion of the game and really wish there was some official rules to calculate certain derived stats from the ship’s attributes. Cruising and safe max speed would be nice, with rules on how players can push up that emergency max speed and how long they can get the ships to hold together at that speed before something important explodes. Even if the derived stats didn’t match canon, the fact that there would be continuity within the game would be nice for my players.

My players are more willing to give leeway on people, but when it comes to vehicles and starships they want all the vitals.

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I, myself, am a very simulationist-type gamer.

Yet, what I simulate in STA is not some “real” action in a Star Trek Universe, but a story set in said universe that presents itself like an episode of my famous TV show. Turns out that works pretty well with the STA ruleset. :wink:

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There was a post in the Conan section about this topic… I think the biggest thing that threat does is that it makes the stuff a GM throws at players something that is a result of the players’ own actions. I posted the following there:

(Some relevant sections from the GM’s guide are quoted: Doom spends vs. just doing normal GM things? - #2 by Felderburg)

The GM’s guide offers this:

Daring: In many ways, Daring is the polar opposite of Control. Daring is all about quick action or reaction in the face of trouble and when needing to respond without the time for clever planning. Anytime your players are immediately responding to something, jumping into a situation without time to think, or relying on pure instinct, use Daring. When describing an activity or action, use Daring if the narration includes: quick thinking, acting on instinct or instinctually, snap decision, reacting, stubbornly, aggressively, or daringly.

Someone who is better at making quick decisions or has a higher daring score is better at doing things quickly. Sure, it’s a personality trait, but someone who is not used to being daring may not do daring things as well as someone with a high daring score.

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I will add that as a GM and as a player I really like the threat mechanic. You both know that the GM can bend reality with threat, makes things difficult, call for backup or do a reversal but within the points limits. If the players fuel the threat they know they have to worry, same if the GM lowers his success to fill the pool to plan something like a reversal. I like the fairness of the rule.
If my players ask: Is the vessel is going to explode? I answer: it depends of the numbers of threat points I’m wanting to spend.

The use of support characters can make you play with all players even in a split group, just not with their main characters.

Sure is not realistic but you can really play as a TV series episode.

  • A new scene every time you change the decor or there’s a fade to black.
  • Your players want gear you have to pay with momentum otherwise you don’t have the budget for props.
  • The support limit? in fact it’s a budget restriction on actors.
  • Same for shuttles: too expensive on screen, that’s why there was teleportation in the first place.
  • Violence adds to threat via escalation because of audience don’t want Star Trek to be too violent.
  • The experience system rewards you if you play like in Star Trek and penalize you if you want to play like Starship Troopers
  • What you can do with attributes is described in the book and was well explained above

The rules also allow players to buy extra dice by paying Threat to the GM if they don’t have any Momentum.

But as you note, if you reduce the flow of Momentum and if as the GM you don’t use Threat, the system does kind of break.

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Could you unpack this advice? I feel that I’m missing a few things. I know that “Spirit of Discovery” allows Determination to be spent to add three Momentum to the pool, but I’m not clear on how “Close-Knit Crew” fits into it. Thanks!

Suppose you have 1 player with Close Knit crew: If you start a scene with less than 1 point start with 1 point. It’s always the case of the first scene of the scenario where you start at 0. Before a scene change if your momentum was at 1 or 0, without the talent you start the scene at 0. With the talent you start the scene at 1 instead. A huge advantage. Works well with Cautious:X you need to have spend momentum to gain the re-roll.

Just a note on Daring.

I don’t think it means daring in the sense of what choices a character makes, which you’re right, is firmly in the domain of player agency and shouldn’t be mandated by dice. However, I think Daring refers more to your ability to act under pressure.

So, for example, let’s say I’m in a shuttlebay, and Klingon boarders are firing at us. I spot a console that will allow me to fill the place with anesthezine gas, but I have to cross open ground to get there. I’m daring enough to decide that I’d run across and risk being hit…but my hands would be shaking so much that I’d be unable to work the controls. That’s the kind of daring that Daring measures - the ability to retain capability while under stress. Even though I’m daring, my Daring wouldn’t be high for that task.

It’s important in games not to take every term at face value, but to assess what they’re aiming for. Sometimes the terminology is quite esoteric in TTRPGs, so you have to step back and try to see what it is they’re aiming for.