Spotlight Milestones and Quiet People

IMPORTANT UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that there are two sections covering Milestones separated by 155 pages that have almost complete identical content. I was using the earlier section, which starts on page 138, where the competing section starting on page 293 actually addressed my concerns posted below sufficiently. I’d advise people to just cross out the earlier section to avoid confusion, as the later one is better. :slight_smile:

So I’ve been observing something about milestones in my group that is kind of disturbing me. Since only one person gets a Spotlight (per vote), and they only happen every 2-3 missions, in a group of four you might expect on average it to take 8-12 missions (2-3 months of weekly play if one mission per week) to get a Spotlight each. Then triple that for getting the first Arc milestone (since the Spotlight after the second is the first Arc, replacing the third Spotlight), so 6-9 months of weekly play for everybody to get an Arc under somewhat ideal, egalitarian circumstances. The numbers go even higher with a larger group (i.e. not-including me, we have 7 players in the current game I’m running, which would almost double these figures again).

Now I’m not going to debate whether 6-9 months of dedicated ST playing to get an extra focus (as opposed to becoming more “well-rounded” by forgetting old and potentially flavorful things to learn “optimal” ones ones) is a reasonable Arc pace. I’m trying to keep to what is in the book and not judge it to harshly, so far. :slight_smile:

But what I am concerned about here though is, with a vote involved, how likely is it that a relatively quiet player (we have at least two in my group) is ever going to get a single Spotlight, let alone an Arc, unless given a mercy vote by the other players? I’m seeing people voting for friends and family, and for the big personalities at the table, but never for the people who aren’t good at being the center of attention or don’t have a personal outside of game connection to somebody. It doesn’t matter if the mission is constructed to revolve around their character or that they are doing a good job of roleplaying it within their limits, because unless they, the wallflowers of the gaming group, manage to win a real world cult-of-personality check against people who in another life could have acted professionally, they are potentially never going to win the vote via anything other then a sense of metagaming duty by the rest of the group. My ability to break vote ties as the gamemaster is irrelevant, since they don’t even get enough (aka, any) votes to tie with. I could of course browbeat people into spreading the Spotlight love, but in that case I might as well just assign points at a regular pace and take the voting out of the process altogether… which kind of defeats the point of having a system spelled out in the book. Even if they get lucky and win the vote once, if the more convivial people at the table are ending up getting Spotlights at two or three times that pace, how valued are they going to feel? The design seems dangerously apt for creating cliqueish behavior and excluding people who may well have a real-world history of feeling excluded already. I’d like to imagine gamers are fairer then most folk about these sort of things, but honestly that hasn’t ever been my experience in long term groups. Basically when the metagame gets involved, the person with the least friends at the table has a high chance of getting screwed.

So is anybody else having / forseeing this issue? Or are you lucky enough to have groups that vote perfectly fairly based on peoples social capabilities, or are you all mostly blowing off the Spotlight rules as written?


I have not started my own campaign yet, and am looking at how I will work this into it. One way around this possible cliquish scenario is to to only allow voting for specific players. The first line of the spotlight section in the core book may be a good indication of how to arrange those characters to receive a spotlight milestone. A Spotlight Milestone occurs when a single Main Character is particularly prominent and significant during an adventure.

If you make it so that those quiet players are either the focus of the adventure, or are in 75% of the adventure, they may be the only ones eligible for the vote. Examples of this type of adventure could be familial episodes, like the one of Ezri Dax on DS9 returning to Trill, Picard’s misadventures on Risa during shore leave in TNG, Tom and Harry’s Captain Proton adventures on Voyager, Doctor Crusher’s encounter with the candle-spirit (it has been a while since I saw that episode) on TNG, Or even O’Brien infiltrating the Orion Syndicate on DS9.

Another option is to simply remove the voting, and every two episodes award a spotlight milestone to one or more players who were prominent or made a significant contribution to the latest adventure.

Also, on page 294 of the core book, it does say this specifically:

A Spotlight Milestone works in the same way as a Normal Milestone, only you may wish to highlight one particular character’s actions. This Player must already fulfill the requirements for a Normal Milestone, and you may go about the awarding of a Spotlight Milestone in two different ways:
Award the Spotlight Milestone to one character who clearly had a significant impact on the mission, or who’s character reached a key stage in development.
When deciding to award a Spotlight Milestone, instead of choosing a Player, let the Players decide who should be awarded the milestone.

If you feel those quiet players deserve a spotlight milestone, you can choose to simply give it to them, instead of having the players vote on it.

Okay, that is hilarious.

I was looking at the seemingly complete Spotlight Milestone award rules on page 139 in the Character Development section, which are subtly different then the ones on page 294 in the Experience and Promotion section. It never dawned on me that the rules for advancement milestones would be duplicated with slight differences 150+ pages apart. :slight_smile: Even when I read through it, I didn’t process any duplication since they are so similar and I had previously skimmed sections of interest.

Anyway… page 139, unlike 294, doesn’t appear to mention the GM awarding Spotlights directly without a player vote, or awarding them more frequently at GM discretion. And looking further, 140 doesn’t bring up awarding Arc milestones “organically” either. So the later copy of the section opens things up enough to allow for enough guidance / wiggle room to prevent most of the issues that concern me without requiring me to ignore the rules as written. So the problem is fixed basically. Thank you very much for directing me to the later section.

Though it does raise a question of an editing policy that allowed for this level of duplication, and with it the chance of internal contradiction, in an already packed book. They could have fit more unique content in there if nothing else.

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Well, glad that I was able to help out with your concerns, then. :slight_smile:

I have the same problem. The bigger personalities always get the vote, and the more subtle players (especially those playing Vulcans) are always passed over. I may have to implement a GM awarding of the milestones.


The second version is somewhat expanded as it’s in the GM’s section, and thus makes allowances for the GM altering things to their taste.

In the last campaign I ran, which started during playtesting, I accelerated the pace of advancement - there was a spotlight vote every session - so that I could see the effects of milestones in action more often, and the players naturally tended to try and be as fair as possible about it (trying to create chances for each other to shine in play, voting the spotlight to people who hadn’t gotten one recently). That group is also who you can all thank for the commendations and honours rules in the Command book - it was their suggestions which became the basis for that section.


one option might be to let the players vote and then award a second “GMs spotlight” as well.

I somehow doubt the minor acceleration of “XP gain” will be overly a problem

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@Modiphius-Nathan, I was curious about something when I went looking in the GM section. It suggests the first Arc after a character gets 2 spotlights. What I am curious about but not quite clear on, is it after the next spotlight that they get a 2nd, or is it a cumulative increase?

2 SM = 1st Arc, +1 SM = 2nd Arc / or 2 SM = 1st Arc, +3 SM = 2nd Arc

1st Arc Milestone after 2 Spotlights, 2nd after 3rd Spotlight, or 1st Arc after 2 Spotlights, 2nd Arc after the 5th Spotlight?

The way I read it…

and so forth

That would be a cumulative increase, which is one way of interpreting it, and may be the correct one. However, another way of interpreting it would be the following:


The table doesn’t clarify if it is the total number of spotlights, or the spotlight interval between each Arc.

Given that the text merely echoes the same imprecision…

The fullness of the text implies strongly to me that it’s the slower version… most especially…

Major changes should not be rapid fire.

I would agree that it’s too slow…

Default assumption is “you’ve had 2 Spotlights previously, the next one will be an Arc”, with the counter resetting after each Arc milestone (so S, S, A, S, S, S, A, S, S, S, S, A…)

It doesn’t break if you speed it up to “on the second Spotlight, it’s also an Arc” (or S, A, S, S, A, S, S, S, A…), but ignoring the reset might make them accrue too quickly.


IIRC - I don’t have my rules with me…I think the option of voting was suggested, not mandated. Not every group could handle it. Personally, I like the idea of allowing players to give a character a Spotlight my acclimation, but not a nightly vote. That could easily turn into a quid pro quo arrangement. My group is pretty mature, but there is one player who is dead set against any player involvement in awarding experience etc. Lets not forget players can “bank” Normal Spotlights and trade them for Spotlight Milestones.


Voting is presented as the only option in the version on page 139, but as one of two equally valid options on page 294. I wasn’t realizing 294 was different then the earlier section ( I wasn’t aware there were two sections), which is why I posted this thread.

And where does it say you can trade a banked Normal Milestone (I assume that is what you meant) for a Spotlight Milestone? The only use I see for banked milestones are spending them as pseudo Determination via the rules on page 139. 293 does have the rather weird entry “Save the Milestone, for use when another Milestone is gained” but doesn’t follow up on what you would do with it at that point.

I was wondering the same thing. I saw the reference to save a milestone and being able to use it for a determination during a mission, but that effectively uses the milestone. The only other way I see, or can think of, to use a saved milestone is when you get another milestone, using both at the same time to change more than one thing at a time. Basically, you can only make changes using milestones between missions when they are awarded.

I did not see anything about trading a saved milestone for anything other than a point of determination during a mission. That may be a campaign/group specific house rule for @Erosthenes’s group.

I do not have my rules with me, but I remember reading it. Like most of these rules, I have had to read them very carefully to parse out what is intended. I do recall reading it; and when I was trying to (unsuccessfully) sell the RAW for experience and advancement TO MY CROWD, I do recall seeing it written that the Normal Milestone could be saved, and a ratio of two to one Normal for Spotlight, with the Spotlight Milestones getting more expensive over time. (Modelling, I suspect, that it is harder to gain knowledge and experience the more you have gained knowledge and experience.) I will try and find it when I get home tonight.

But, as long as you understand that there are two, and at times contradictory, rules for awarding experience - you are further ahead than I was. But then, I have been wrong before :wink:

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You can bank regular milestones, and spend them in place of Determination (as covered on page 139), but I can’t find anything in the Core Rulebook about exchanging saved milestones for higher tiers of milestone.