Still Need Help Understanding Purpose of Work Track in Extended Tasks

Once the work track is finished, I get it, it generates a Breakthrough.

However, the rulebook states (p. 90, subsection “Work”): “each Extended Task has a Work track, which is a means of determining how much Work will be needed to overcome the Extended Task.”

This seems to infer that once the Work track is filled, the Task is overcome. The task can of course also be overcome by gaining Breakthroughs equal to the Magnitude.

However, later rules talk about generating breakthroughs after the Work Track is filled. Why is this relevant? Isn’t the task over anyway once the Work Track is filled?

When you look at it, extended tasks are pretty much the same as ship combat.

Consider Breakthroughs as Breaches and the Work Track as Shields and it becomes clearer. You need to score a number of “Breaches” to complete the task. It becomes easier once the “Shields” are down but that is not a requirement.

Pg 91 paragraph 3 states explicitly that once you achieve Breakthroughs = Magnitude the task is overcome. It does not state that the work track must be completed.

So then what happens on the next task with a completed Work Track if the magnitude has not been met? Does it reset, or stay full? I

Once the Work Track has been filled, any amount of Work after Resistance results in a Breakthrough. The Work Track does not reset.

Ok, so if I understand this.

The Work Track itself is a one-time generator of a Breakthrough once complete.

Following completion, the completed work results in a Breakthrough with every proceeding Success roll.

Once the Work Track has been completed, the following rules apply:

  1. If at least 1 point of Work is generated (after Resistance, if any, is taken off), a Breakthrough occurs.

  2. If 5 or more Work is generated from a single Task (after Resistance, if any, is taken off), a Breakthrough occurs.

So, if after the Work Track is filled you generate a net Work of 5 on a Task, it causes 2 Breakthroughs.

And just to clarify, as this is something I’ve been confused on- if you get a breakthrough from 5 unchecked pieces of work, the work track stays where it is?

So it’s not so much a ladder between breakthroughs, but a way to quickly generate breakthroughs once the track is full?

As I said earlier, Extended tasks are essentially a variant on combat. They are basically the Science/Engineering version of combat.

As such the Work Track is analogous to Stress/Shields. If the Work Track is 10 then you can think of it as 0/10. If you get a breakthough because you did 5 Work, the Work Track will now be 5 i.e. 5/10

The name is misleading as it infers that this is the amount of work you must complete, but it is in fact just a barrier to generating breakthoughs, which are what is needed to complete the task.


And yet it’s still better than the play-test incarnation! (Which I don’t remember off the top of my head, but was more confusing)

I don’t think anyone addressed this directly: work generated by the rolls is applied to the track until it’s completed. To break it down:

  • As the track is filled in, it triggers a breakthrough when 5 work is achieved in one roll (10 work = 2 breakthroughs etc)
  • Completing the track will trigger a breakthrough
  • Achieving any amount of work once the track is completed will trigger a breakthrough (1 per roll)

You can achieve two or more of these in one roll (e.g. 3 work to go, 5 scored → 1 breakthrough for 5 work, 1 for completion).

Kind of both?

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Can someone give us a complete example with a Doctor trying to complete research on a disease threatening the crew?

That’s gonna be a timed extended task. The work is representative of the amount of time it takes to complete the task. Each Breakthrough would represent some discovery into the nature of the virus that makes it easier to create a counter agent. As each Breakthrough or discovery is made further tasks are easier as they learn more about it. The medical officer would need to complete the tasks before a predetermined time in order to prevent the crew from dying off.

As the crew makes progress they need to make a certain number of discoveries about the virus but it will still take time to complete the research and create an antiviral.

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You can also make it a task chain -
1: ID that it’s a disease and which type. Medicine
2: Find its weaknesses, probably in the lab. Science or medicine
3: Make the counter to the disease. Science.
1-3: Keep the patients from dying during the testing and manufacture
4: administer it without killing the patient in the process.

Doesn’t need to be a timed task chain, per se, but if each round requires a medical roll to keep the patients alive, that’s effectively a timer.

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That’s actually a key point I’d forgotten in my own answer earlier. And as I recall this is not clear in the books.

There is absolutely no point in using an Extended Task unless there is a time limit. The assumption is that the task will be completed eventually - it’s whether it happens before something else does that matters.

There is always a specific “interval” of time associated with the task. Each roll takes 2 intervals, unless something changes this (such as momentum expenditure or use of some delaying element), which means failures become significant in their own right.

This is the other purpose of the work track - it establishes a projected timeline for successes, giving the players an idea of whether they need to start piling in the momentum, threat and determination. Similarly the GM can use threat and complications to make things more difficult.

Once the work track is completed, knocking off the remaining breakthroughs can more easily be seen as putting the final pieces in place for a working fix once the solution has been found. It’s routine, but it takes important time - i.e. putting everything back together when the fault has been found with the dilithium matrix.

To give an idea of how this works, take a look at the rules for warp core breaches (core p228): you’ve got a specific extended task to achieve before another event happens at a random point. It literally becomes a race between the engineers and the dice…

This is one of the genius parts of the game: it adds excitement to non-combat scenes. I used one to prevent a self-destruct in a game last year - the player running the engineer was literally sweating as he achieved the last breakthrough. The combats were relatively routine!

I think that’s overstating time limits, personally - an Extended Task needs to exist in a situation where taking longer (with an absolute limit, general risk-per-attempt, or ongoing peril, etc.) is a bad thing. The key is peril and pressure, and while time is a good way to do that, it isn’t the only way.

Say you’ve got a Romulan mine attached to the hull of your ship. It’s not on a timer, but it’s unstable, contains assorted anti-tamper devices, and will detonate if you screw up. That can be an extended task, but there’s no time limit. Maybe the GM decides that something goes wrong (like a defence system impaling your Armoury Officer through the leg) on a failed roll (and now someone else needs to finish the job), and/or that a certain number of failed rolls (say, equal to the Magnitude) will result in the mine detonating. (Yes, that is an episode of Enterprise I’m referencing).

Or maybe you’re trying to complete something while being exposed to deadly radiation. Every task you attempt causes damage to you, so can you withstand it long enough to get the job done? Will you risk or even sacrifice your life for the lives of your crew?

My favourite alternative is using Extended Tasks in combat. Your warp engines are offline, but you’ve got a squadron of Klingon birds of prey powering weapons… so the Engineer is making rolls on their turn to restart the engines while the ship is in combat. Or you’re holding back wave after wave of Jem’Hadar while someone disables that transporter jammer so you can beam out. In either case, the peril comes from the battle (and the risk of damage to the ship or injured characters), which ends as soon as the extended task is completed.

But in general, there’s a good understanding of them here. Remember, you’ve got to do the work to get the breakthroughs, and once you’ve done the work, the breakthroughs come more easily.

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Oops! I did actually expand this later in my post, but I should have gone back and corrected this :slight_smile: The point I was trying to make was that with no limit, you can achieve anything reasonable without a roll.

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Honestly, is there not more fun in having the deadline (literally) in place for success? Why not use an Extended Task to cure the virus in the example above, with the resolution being either the crew dies or they find the cure. That puts a lot of pressure on the science department to complete their work. Loads of examples from episodes exist. Heck McCoy even came up with a solution to interphasic space by the end of the episode with a theragen derivative. Although, Mr. Scott never let us know if it made a good mix with Scotch.

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Vehemently disagree.

Extended tasks expose one to more complications, even when not timed. While similar to a timer, it’s not the same; A timer penalizes failure. An extended task penalizes retries and eats more momentum.

A simple (and unnuanced) bit of stats follows.

Assuming no Complication rating retries, and a D=4 vs D=3 M1 W510 task - basically a ship repair - and an elite crew 11&4…

Each of the crew’s d20 s are an expected of 0.95 Successes [={11/20 + (2×4/20)}=19] and 0.05 Complication chance
Each d6 [➤] has an expected of 0.833333 work ={(1+2+0+0+1+1)/6}=5/6

In order to expect to succeed on a difficulty 4 single roll, they need to use 5 dice (to get ≥4 expected successes), thus 6 momentum. They will also have a chance of 1-{(1 - 1/20)^5} Complications… 0.22621906249999998. So expecting a little over 1/5 of a complication.

Meanwhile the TN3 10 work maginitude 2 needs 4 dice to expect success. Said crew will roll 6➤ expecting 5 work (just a hair over 50% of actually getting 5 work)…
The chance complications is 0.18549375 per roll, using 3 momentum per roll
It should normally take 2 such rolls to get 10 work and/or 2× Breakthroughs; this creates and expected chance of complications of 0.3365795687109375 for the extended task.

For a less competent crew, talented (10&3)…
D20 = 0.8 expected successes and 0.05 Complication
extended task work 5➤

Going for the TN4 one-task, the expected succeesses at 5d20 are 4. Which puts the odds just a hair over 50%. The Complications chance is 0.2262190625.

For the extended, they still need 4d20 (.8*4=0.32), for a chance of Complications of 0.18549375
per roll, and 4 work expected per roll.
They thus expect 3 rolls, and 0.4596399123373631 chance of complications, just over twice the risk.

proficient (9&2) 1d20 = 13/20 = 0.65; 4➤ expecint 20/6=3.333 work per successful roll.
5d20 has an expectation of =3.25; so it’s likely to take 2 or even 3 rolls, with 0.4012630607616211 complications if 2 and 0.5367087698402466 complications if 3.
Extended they expect just over the TN, and 3.333 work per success, so 3, maybe 4 rolls.
So 0.5367087698402466 if 3, and a complication chance of 0.6415140775914578…
Essentially, a complication goes from unlikely to likely but success goes from unlikely to plausible

It’s trading chance of success for eventual success at increasing likelyhood of bad side effects.

On the exemplar, say, a weapons repair, the complication might be “poor focus” … and -1➤ o the damage, or tracking off for D+1 on attacks, or even one weapon type out despite the restoration of unpenalized shooting on the others.