Cool cool! That’s everyone, and a nice job y’all look like you’ve done. I’m not going to go step-by-step to confirm that everything is perfect: they look cool, I hope everyone has a pretty good idea of who their character is, and with that, I think we’re almost ready to get started.
A few details about the USS Migizi:
Talents: Advanced Sensor Suites, Advanced Sickbay, Emergency Medical Hologram (and bartender)
Any time you are on the ship, you can use it as a secondary character.
Very briefly, the way the majority of the game will work is you will be presented with a problem or obstacle in one of two flavours:
Standard problems require a combination of a Attribute + Discipline as a baseline to give you a target number you are attempting to roll under. So the higher the number you produce, the more likely you are to succeed (ie: a target number of 12 is better than one of 9). Each roll equal to or under your target number is a success.
By default you will roll 2d20. The problem will have a Difficulty between 0 (trivial) and 10 (nigh-impossible, Herculean).
1s are always Critical Successes, and count as 2 successes. So there is always a 1 in 400 chance of getting 4 Successes on only 2d20…
However, most of the time you’ll want to add more dice to the problem and/or apply your Talents and Focuses to a problem to maximize your odds.
The easiest way to add dice to a problem is to Assist another character. Let’s use a little example.
Dr. Simpson has begun flirting with an attractive Cardassian while lounging around a “Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gambling House, and Holosuite Arcade.” Oh no! The Cardassian has started coughing up blood!
“I’m going to whip out my medical tricorder and try to save their life!” DJCT states. “I’m going to use Reason + Medicine, giving me a target number of 15.”
“That’s pretty good! Unfortunately, whatever is afflicting this Cardassian seems to be shockingly aggressive, and they’re collapsed on the floor and surrounded by panicking patrons. Your difficulty is going to be 3 to find out what’s happening, or 4 to save their life.”
“Whoa! Okay… can anyone help?”
“Pavi Zin will help!” says Snobbydolphin. “While I wasn’t involved in the Bajoran resistance directly, I suspect that I’m still pretty familiar with Cardassian physiology. So I’m going to use Insight + Security to help, giving me a target number of 15 as well.”
“Sounds good, but describe to me what you’re doing to help to justify that combination of skills.”
“Ah. Well, Zin will be scanning with his own tricorder, but rather than vital signs or stuff like that, I’m going to be eliminating the possibility of toxins, or poisons, or weird radiation, or trans-warp bullets or whatever… actually, I want Zin to do an investigation of all the patrons, demanding that if anyone saw anything they tell us. That would help right? That would use… Daring + Command, which is only a 14, but I think it’s more in character for what Zin would do.”
Only one player can assist in this way per roll, and you will roll 1d20, adding any success (multiple if you score a Critical Success) to the total. But we’re still only up to 3d20 total, and while a target number of 15 means that 75% of the rolls will succeed… we still need 4 total success if we want to save this poor sucke… Cardassian. But it’s a low-risk way to assist other players.
So the next way to make odds better is to “buy” additional dice. There are two currencies to purchase dice: Momentum and Threat. Broadly speaking, Momentum is gained by rolling more Successes than you needed, and Threat is an evil resource that you willingly give me in order to make your lives more difficult. We’ll cover both in more detail a little later, but for now, just know that to buy 1 additional die costs either 1 Momentum (taken from the common pool of Momentum for the group) or 1 Threat (given to me to add to the pool of Threat I can spend during the adventure). The 2nd die you purchase costs 2 Momentum, 2 Threat, or 1 of each. The 3rd die (if applicable) costs 3, 3, or a combination that adds up to three.
However, you are never allowed to roll a total of more than 5 dice for a problem. So in our example, DJCT is rolling 2 dice, but Snobbydolphin is already “adding” one to the situation, so we’re already at three dice, so DJCT can at most buy 2 more dice.
One last note: spending Momentum or giving me Threat aren’t strictly group decisions. Any player can use these resources without needing to ask. But it’s usually nice to consider if the group might need that Momentum for something else (or if the Threat is already high and everyone’s life is already hard!).
“The group currently has 2 Momentum, DJCT. Do you want to buy another die or two?”
“Ugh… I’m hitting on 15s, so I shouldn’t need two more dice… I hope… okay, I’ll buy one die for one Momentum.”
“Cool. Any Talents or Focuses you think apply to this situation?”
Last point (for now, there are always more “last points”): Talents give you specific bonuses as listed. This usually is something like “If you buy 1 die with Momentum, you may reroll 1 die but must use the new result” or “Whenever you use (Talent), reduce the Difficulty of the task by 1” or whatever. Useful stuff, and again, I’m always willing to let you include a Talent if you can justify it.
As for Focuses, if you can come up with a justification for the Focus, it allows you to get Critical Successes on the entire range of your Discipline you are using, rather than only on 1s.
“Ooh, I’m going to use my Bold: Medicine Talent. Can I use Threat instead of Momentum to buy that additional die? It lets me reroll.”
“Great! And I’m going to use my Emergency Medicine Focus, so I’m getting Crits on 1 - 5, rather than only 1s.”
“Sounds good. Okay, you’re rolling 3d20, Snobbydolphin is rolling 1d20, go ahead and give me those rolls.”
Clear as mud? Last thing (see? So many “last things”) here: Values should be thought of as a “Mini-Feat” or an “Oops” button for when things go really wrong. By Challenging a Value (coming up with a reason why your character is questioning one of their values is the most common way to do that), you can immediately add a die roll of 1 (so 2 successes) to any situation/problem before you roll, or you can reroll any of the dice you’ve already rolled. But each Value can only be Challenged once per “Episode” (for our purposes, you can challenge each of your Values once over the entire Adventure we’re going to play… I’ve been playing our ST:A adventure for over a year and a half now, and we’ve only had 2 Value Challenges in all that time. They tend to be rare, but very useful in a pinch).
Argh, another Last Thing (a better man would go back and delete the previous instances of “last thing” I’ve already said to make me look like less of an idiot… but I am not that man). Rolls of 1 are always Critical Successes, and rolls of 20 are always Critical “Failures”. They don’t remove successes or anything like that, but they never count as a success (even if by some miracle you manage a Attribute + Discipline of 20… which shouldn’t be possible), and they always make your life more difficult.
I like giving you, the players, the option of telling me what happens as a result of you rolling a 20. My group often has their equipment explode, or shields will fail, or the weather gets worse… if you can’t think of anything, you can always just give me 1 Threat instead, but narrative, “interesting” complications are more fun! But note, it should make your life more complicated (“The Cardassian gasps ‘You… did… this!..’ as he passes out!”) but not impossible (“The Cardassian dies!”). You can still succeed and get a few Critical Failures (and it doesn’t matter who rolls the 1 or the 20… if the person assisting rolls a 20, they have failed to make things better and have made things more complicated).
As mentioned above, you compare the Difficulty of the task (most will be in the 0 to 4 range… 4 is already “pretty hard,” and I’ll only pull out a 5 or a 6 if you’re trying to juggle phasers while dodging The Borgs as you skip across rocks in the middle of a lava flow) to the number of success you rolled: if you managed to hit the number or higher, you succeed at the task (possibly with Complications added), huzzah! If you don’t hit the Difficulty, you can choose to Challenge a Value for that Reroll, you can have it fail, or you can Succeed at a Cost (“Yes, you saved the Cardassian’s life, but…”). If you rolled more Successes than the Difficulty, usually those are converted directly into Momentum (and if you have the Untapped Potential Talent, you can roll a d6 to try and earn back more momentum that you spent), but you can also ask to make your life easier instead (“Everyone at the bar saw that I didn’t hand the drink to the Cardassian!”). Most of the time I won’t have an issue with that, unless it specifically contradictions something really important in the adventure.
Okay, those are the basics! Oh, but I didn’t cover the Second Type of Problem (“Complicated”)! You’re right.
A Complicated Problem is a series of Standard Problems, but rather than having one target Difficulty, you have a Difficulty and your Successes are put into a pool of Successes until a sufficient number of Success is accumulated by all players. Let’s use a Warp Breach as an example and give poor Dr. Simpson a break from being my whipping example.
A Borg Drone punched the Warp Core, and now things are gettin’ hairy on the Migizi. The group will need a total of 20 “Damage” to the problem in order to solve it. I’ll usually tell you this target number or give you strong hints as to how close you are to solving the problem.
“Okay, somebody needs to recalibrate the Dilithium Crystals, somebody needs to subdue that Borg, there’s poisonous gases starting to seep out, and power is starting to fluctuate.”
“I’ll handle the crystals,” says RogerBW. “Kelly is an Engineer-type, after all! Let’s say Reason + Engineering?”
“Okay, cool. Your Difficulty is 4, but I’ll make it a 3 if you can give me a couple lines of good technobabble describing what you’re doing to affect the realignment.”
(Roger looks pensively into the middle distance)
“Torlent is going to go all Worf on that Borg! Fitness + Security, and I’d like to use my Hand-to-Hand Combat Focus.”
“Awesome. Your Difficulty is going to be 4, but when you get 3 or more Successes, total, I’ll drop the Difficulty that Kelly has by 1. Also, I’ll drop your Difficulty down to 3 if you come up with a good one-liner you shout as you charge into combat!”
(WolfeRJ scowls at me… one-liners indeed! What is this, Star Wars?!.. but a reduction in Difficulty would be nice…)
“Rather than trying to fix the poison gas problem, I’m going to have Dr. Simpson assist Torlent with that Borg. I’ll use Control + Security and shout ‘Covering fire!’ as I blast wildly in the approximate direction of the Borg.”
“Here’s hoping you don’t roll a 20 on that die, DJCT… that Borg is awfully close to the warp core!” (I pause for dramatic effect) “Actually, I’m going to spend a couple Threat so that your Complication Range is now 18-20.”
“Argh! Curse my impulsive Scottish trigger finger! But I’m still adding my die to Torlent’s Borg problem!”
And so on.
Okay, okay, the Last Thing for reals this time: every time you succeed during a Complicated Task, you roll 1d6 (an “Action Die” where the faces are 1, 2, 0, 0, 1+Effect, 1+Effect). For every additional Success over the Difficulty you add another Action Die, and the number you roll reduces the total Complicated Task “health” by that amount.
For the record, this is how combat is “supposed” to work, but not how we’re going to do it. Combat in our adventure will be “Standard” tasks to keep things moving along, and only big, climactic moments will be Complicated tasks.
Clearer than mud?
I think that’s everything that’s super important.
Does anyone have any specific character (or game, or rules) based questions you want to tackle? I’m going to start a new thread for the game itself, and we can keep Out Of Game talk over here.
My goal is to post approximately daily, but to give everyone at least 24-ish hours to respond to each update to the main thread (more is of course possible).
I managed to get a sum total of zero (0) hours of sleep last night, so I can’t promise I’ll start the Adventure Proper until tomorrow or Tuesday, but it’s comin’! At least you’ll have some time to ask questions. I may have made mistakes… in fact, I almost guarantee it.
Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll get back to ya as soon as I can!