So, who exactly performs the Transporters Task in your games?
Let me preface this by acknowledging that in many cases the use of transporters can simply be handwaved away. If we’re at the beginning of the mission, and I just want to get the players to the place where the interesting things will happen, we can agree that the PCs are transported without any need to roll for a Task.
On the other hand, I can also see the need to handle the transportation exactly as it is established in the Core Rulebook: as a Combat Task during Starship Combat. If the PCs want to board an enemy ship after bringing down its shields, the dramatic potential of the Task resulting in Momentum and Complications makes for a thrilling part of the battle scene.
But what about all of the other situations we can imagine? Let’s say that the away team needs to get into a locked vault. In some other RPG, this would be the right occasion for the thief of the group to showcase their lockpicking skills. In STA however, it might occur to the players to do a site-to-site transport instead. But… the PCs who are in front of that vault aren’t at the transporter console! How do we roll this Task, exactly?
The obvious answer is that the players just need to introduce a Supporting Character, the transporter chief, to the scene. But a Supporting Character who isn’t being controlled by a player can only perform Minor Actions and Tasks of Difficulty 0. A Transporters Task where neither the target and destination are on transporter pads, performed by a character in the transporter room, is Difficulty 3. But not to worry, since the Commanding Officer can perform the Direct Task to get the Supporting Character to perform the Transporters Task.
Except that the Direct Task can only be performed once per scene, and the away team is probably going to want to get transported out of the vault, as well. I guess the transporter chief just forgets how to operate the transporter controls all of a sudden.
How do you handle situations like this?
One weird but kind of intriguing answer did occur to me. Instead of making some sort of an exception for the Transporters Task, play the rules as written, and let the mechanics inform the dramatic structure.
So your Commanding Officer has already used the Direct Task once during this scene, but you need a Supporting Character to perform another Transporters Task, or some other above zero Difficulty Task. Maybe that just means that it’s time for this scene to end. It’s a cliffhanger moment for the commercial break! And maybe instead of starting the next scene in the same location, we switch to the ship. Instead of having the Commanding Officer Direct the next Task by the transporter chief, we see the events from the perspective of the transporter chief, and other Supporting Characters, who have a chance to aid the efforts of the away team by looking up information in the ship’s computer, or gathering new data using the ship’s sensors.
But then again, sometimes the players might want to request a beam out during a skirmish that isn’t going their way, after the Commanding Officer has already used their Direct Task. Ending the scene in the middle of a battle probably isn’t going to work, especially if there are lethally Injured PCs who would die when the scene ends. So… time to handwave the rules again?