Star fleet core values/ethics?

Hello again all. Our GM was awsome and allowed us to write our own character back stories to give both benefits and motivation for our charactees actions (aka fan fiction for your PC :smile: ). Had one story in which the character was part of a secret department of starfleet gathering weapons from all over the universe to better arm the federation. This seemed a little against the values of starfleet and i seem to recall a number of episodes where this ended poorly even one of the newer movies if i remember correctly. But i was more wondering if this violated any actual star fleet mandates or regulations or principles?? Any thoughts. I would also like specific sources if there are any for or against. Thank you

I assume by “gathering weapons” you mean stealing technology rather than collecting rifles and such.

One department of Starfleet is Starfleet Intelligence. Although I’m not sure if they really steal technology. But they do some shady stuff, like the Pegasus incident.

You could always use Section 31 as a background because those guys do anything to give the Federation an edge. And stealing technology is right up their alley.

In any case it would definitely go against the values of Starfleet, but that does not necessarily make the actions wrong or criminal. I guess if it was a legitimate operation, it was sanctioned by the admiralty.


Good morning, Captain T.

We know that Starfleet and the Federation engages in weapons research and development, especially in these dangerous times of Borg incursions and Dominion plotting. Examples include the Defiant project, TR-116 Rifle and, of course, the quantum torpedo. That’s not necessarily against the values of the Federation but a lot depends on the method of this “gathering” and the nature of the weapons. If the weapons are stolen, it could cause a diplomatic incident if discovered requiring the Federation to disavow the operation. If the department is gathering weapons that are banned (such as subspace weapons outlawed by the Khitomer Accords) then the operation would be illegal by default. Chemical and biological agents would be similarly unethical and a huge scandal if it came out.

One question to consider is whether this is an operation officially sanctioned by Starfleet Command and the Federation Council, or more of a “rogue department or Admiral doing what they believe necessary” kind of thing. Starfleet is disappointingly full of ends-justify-the-means types who routinely betray the Federation’s principles to safeguard the Federation. Would anyone get court-martialled if it came out? Would any Federation Councillors have to suddenly resign to “spend more time with their family”? Those could be interesting plot points in your campaign.

The writers always played a bit fast and loose with Federation law and what is and is not allowed at any given time. A good guideline though is What Would Picard Do? If the answer to that is “take off his pips and combadge slowly” then you’re well into somebody gonna lose their commission territory. If it’s merely “frowns disapprovingly” then it’s probably a violation of principles but not an actionable one.


@CaptWebster Your take on “What would Picard do?” made my day! :smiley:

I’ll just ramble around a bit on Federation/Starfleet core values: I’m convinced they comprise the following, non-exhaustive list of keywords: principle of non-intervention (called ‘prime directive’), prohibition of the use of force (with the exceptions of self-defense), abolition of non-discriminating weapons (esp. weapons of mass destruction), prohibition of genocide and other things we nowadays call “crimes against humanity”, including persecution of war crimes / war criminals, and, internally, some forms of democratic representation (albeit you could probably write a paper on the political structure of the Federation and why and/or why not it’s actually less liberal than some of todays’ political systems), the rule of law, strong social welfare system including extensive medical support.

Basically, an utopia. Would an utopia require stealing weapon technologies? Not unlikely. In German, there’s a saying roughly translating to “The most peaceful individual cannot live in peace if his evil neighbour won’t allow it.” I’d say that this would be the background of an intelligence officer and/or Section 31 member.

Hint: Both get their spotlight in the operations divisions supplement. :slight_smile:

@CaptainT Am I right guessing that this intelligence-backgrounded officer is the same individual that always carries a knife and phaser(s)? If so, that player and the GM could build on this with an interesting character story: Why did they change their assignments and went away from stealing weapons? Did something go terribly wrong? Maybe they need the weapons as a constant self-affirmation against stress and fear? Maybe there’s a trauma somewhere…?
Please let me recommend you the Science Division Supplement. Sadly, I have yet to read the part on trauma and counseling, but in the forums, here, people indicated they’re quite nice. :slight_smile:

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Also, are we talking past event (as opposed to ongoing plot)? If so, it can be thought of as this was a project they were involved in and now regret (Riker and the Pegasus incident) or try to keep secret. If it was a black operation like the Pegasus or was carried out for Section 31, it could lead to some interesting plots, as the instigators may still have their hooks in the character and try to drag them into new schemes.

Another possibility is that they were involved on behalf of something like the Maquis - so theoretically a good cause, even if somewhat illegal. And that could be either before or after joining Starfleet.

In any case, this is absolutely something that could be a good background (if played right). Lots of fertile ground for character arcs there…

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One thing that comes to mind is the Federation struggling to uparm its vessels in response to the Borg threat. I do find it hard to believe that Starfleet would send a crew out to steal technology, unless, as previously mentioned, a rogue Admiral was stepping outside the bounds of Federation law and practice to “do what needs to be done”.

Such a campaign could work under SF Intelligence or S31, however.

It is the same individual but he is still currently highly involved with the organization. This campaign is also taking place a few years after the dominion war so many once enemies are now a little more freindly due to uniting together to attempt to fight off a common threat. There is still a lot of problems brewing out there. Just wondering if anyone knew any time that this turned out good. It always seems that the story to this is that in preparing to fight the federation starts to become more stick than carrot. Not saying it does not work because it has been done before. just that it seems to always end with a rougue section of starfleet then feeling that they need to preemptively attacking others instead of pursuing diplomatic relations 1st. And starfleet as far as arming themselves seems to rely on there own ingenuity to develope defense, getting other races involved or seizing technology seems like somone will owe somone else at some point

The federation has stolen ships and technologies in order to better combat them before. The Romulan Cloaking device in “the enterprise incident” the Domnion attack ship in “the ship” the thing is, the federation doesn’t exactly need to do it, certainly not in a major scale because they’re not exactly playing catch up on the technology front. Disruptors, plasma torpedos etc. the federation doesn’t that technology for doctrinal reasons, not due to technological limitations. the UFP is proably the most advanced power in their area of space.

BrianDavion, The example you cite from “Enterprise Incident” was indeed a covert mission to obtain a technology, but one for which the Federation had no analog, nor adequate opportunity to defeat.

Exactly, thats kinda my point. we’ve seen the UFP engage in theft of weapons technology but it’s always when the need is critical to figure out how to over come a game changing weapon, like cloaking devices or shield busting polaron beams, but there’s simply nothing to gain from running around stealing weapons from the Klingons and Romulans by the mid 2300s and up

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