Since it was released, Star Trek Adventures seen a number of different supplements. I had some earlier posts about how to create adversaries and NPC starships in Star Trek Adventures (links below) but I thought I’d revisit the subject and see how things have shifted with the Beta Quadrant Sourcebook, the Command Division Supplement, the Operations Division Supplement, and the adventure compendium These Are the Voyages… Read on to see what tweaks have happened in the game’s first year!
Originally I laid out some pretty specific rules for NPCs in Star Trek Adventures. Minor characters have Attributes that total about 57 and Disciplines that total about 6 points. They tend to have no special rules, Values, or Focuses. Notable characters have a little more in their Attributes (around 60 total) and in Disciplines (around 9 points), and they get a single Value, two Focuses, and a few special rules. Major NPCs have the same Discipline totals as Notable characters, more total Attributes (13-15 points), two Values, four Focuses, and a few special rules.
As you can see from the table below, that hasn’t remained the case.
Ignoring the Borg (because we have to) all three types of characters have lower Attribute averages and higher Discipline averages. Major characters also have more special abilities on average and more of them have six Focuses than four. This gets even more pronounced when you remove the strange ones (plant creatures and weirdly specific NPCs). This is easy enough to adjust for NPC-making guidelines (which I’ll do below) but what do these changes actually mean?
In a nutshell, the design of NPCs has shifted so that they are more focused characters with aimed purposes. Lowering Attributes and raising Disciplines doesn’t effect the total of most rolls (in a general sense, I haven’t crunched the numbers) but it does mean that they will have higher totals for the areas they’re good at and lower totals for the areas they aren’t. Besides which they have more Focuses so their particular skillsets come into play in a big way. For instance, compare the Section 31 Operative from the core rulebook to the Starfleet Intelligence Agent from the new Operations Division Supplement. If they are moving stealthily (a Control + Security Task) the operative has scores of 11+3 while the agent has scores of 10+4. Both have about the same chance of a success (14 out of 20) but the agent has a better chance of getting a crit from one of his sneaky Focuses since they only have to roll a 4 or under. On the other hand, if they are trying to fix a warp engine (Reason + Engineering) which is definitely outside their wheelhouse then the core rulebook operation NPC still has an 11 while the newer intelligence agent has a 9. Better at what he’s trained for, worse at what he isn’t.
All in all, though, the following table sums up the guidelines for making NPCs, slightly adjusted from last time. As before, though, this is just a starting point. You should absolutely deviate from this and make your NPCs the characters that your campaign needs.
The story’s a little weirder with NPC starships. You might recall that originally I had a harder time pinning them down as well and the updated stats are no different. Here are the stats from the core rulebook…
And here are the stats with all the new stuff…
These also are missing the two Borg ships (the cube and the sphere) but otherwise everything is in here from named ships to general ship types.
So what’s going on here? Well for one there’s more clarity: we can get definite trends for number of weapons and number of special rules and they’re all nice and clean. There’s also a nice, steady progression for the Attribute totals and Department totals which is adjusted up and down depending. Ships that are Scale 1 (the shuttles which were greatly increased in number in the Command Division Supplement) are definitely higher, then Scales 2 and 3 are definitely lower, then Scale 4 is a little higher, and Scales 5 and 6 are lower. Huh?
Honestly, this just seems like fine tuning to me. I think there isn’t a need to hone in ships like there was with NPCs and there wasn’t a need for major overhauls. The game authors are just getting used to making ships and as we see more of them there is a better baseline to go by. The same guidelines from before will still work, just use the figures in the table above.