Last time I looked at colonies in the setting of Star Trek, I was taking an overview and providing inspiration for why you might want to take your Star Trek Adventures campaign there. While colonies work great as a backdrop for STA missions, the whole point of taking a deep look into them is to identify new campaign options for your game. With that in mind, let’s look at the nitty-gritty of how they actually run.
This look at Star Trek colonies is my own. It’s supported by the resources at Memory Alpha, by fan sites such as Starbase 118 and Siencia Colony, and by an attempt to create a society like we see onscreen: familiar to our own but better and with some of the injustice ironed out. Your colony structure may differ (in general or for your specific colony) and that’s just fine! Change what you don’t like, keep what you do, and use as many or as few of the roles as you see fit.
Federation colonies are run by a government of elected officials who serve terms of four years. When a colony is first founded, the Federation Department of Colonial Affairs appoints the initial administrative team who serves for the colony’s first four years before an election. There are procedures for impeachment and removal, but only rarely does the broader Federation government step in to make changes at a colonial level. When there is a problem at a colony that seems too big to fix, the Federation sends a team of mediators (usually the Diplomatic Corps or Starfleet) to work out a solution. Sometimes there are still colonies set up for ideological or religious reasons through a UFP charter, in which case the administration is separate from Federation bureaucracy and an oversight team is sent regularly to make sure that Federation laws and citizen rights are still respected.
Under the Federation colonial system, a colony is overseen by an administrator who introduces ordinances, oversees community planning, and represents the colony to the outside universe. They have to be an expert in many different parts of a colony’s function from culture and history to the ecology and geography of their planet. A secondary position for coordinating between departments is the colony executive who often is an opposition leader working in a coalition government with the administrator. As the most public officials, there is pressure on the administrator and executive to respond to the colonists’ needs and desires so that they are not replaced in the next election cycle. On the other hand, they can refer any decisions to the Federation Department of Colonial Affairs if they think the public’s desires might be detrimental or disruptive, requiring the intervention of outsiders.
Below these leadership positions are several departments for the proper functioning of a colony.
- The Office of the Records Manager maintains the records, licenses, rulings, birth and death certificates, and other official databases.
- The Office of the Facilities Manger oversees community and social programs as well as the common spaces and parks of the colony.
- The Office of the Healthcare Supervisor maintains the public health, safety standards, and health services of the colony.
- The Office of the Transportation Manager handles travel into and out of the colony world, as well as vehicle movement and safety for on-world travel if there are multiple settlements.
- The Office of Public Works oversees the civilian engineers and workers who maintain the colony’s infrastructure. Plumbing and ventilation, building environmental controls, walking surfaces, and electrical systems are all under the purview of the Department of Public Works.
- The Office of Civilian Police protects the population of the colony as outlined in the Federation Charter. For nearly all disturbances in a colony, citizens can contact the relevant department of Colony Administration: public disturbances or lost children brings a social worker from the Healthcare Department, burglaries or vandalism are investigated by assessors from the Facilities Department, and issues on public transportation or involving vehicles are directed to the Department of Transportation’s investigative service. Only violent crimes fall under the purview of the policing department and it’s the hope of all department members that they don’t need to be called.
Many colonies have Starfleet facilities included in them and the functioning of those facilities falls to Starfleet officers. These facilities have commanding officers and executive officers just like a starship or starbase, with the same role benefits. Often one or the other of these roles will focus on meeting with the colony’s civilian administration but just as often this responsibility is split between the two officers.
The facility’s machinery and technology is maintained by the chief engineer and the security of the facility is maintained by the chief of security. Starfleet personnel assigned are managed by the operations manager, research efforts by the chief science officer, and medical matters by the chief medical officer. If the colony is in a sensitive area the facility might also include an intelligence officer (as described in the Command Division Supplement). All of these roles have the same benefits as the roles of the same name on starships, though permanent Advantages like the chief engineer’s and chief medical officer’s staff are gained when in the colony or facility rather than on a starship. Planetary Starfleet facilities also include other roles found on starships, generally with little change, as well as the transit coordinator which replaces the flight controller on senior staff.
Many colonies have academy facilities where higher education degrees are pursued and civilian research takes place. Each species has at least one model of academic institutions from their past and those vary with such variety that it would be impossible to discuss them all here. If you want to feature a Vulcan academy of science, a Human university, an Andorian initiation college, or any other sort of species-specific model in your campaign then you are free to make up the specifics as you like. Specifically for this feature, we’ll be looking at the Federation Academy model, an amalgam of different traditions that has developed since the founding of the Federation and the first institutes of higher education that it founded.
At the head of the academy is the campus director who coordinates institution-wide policies and acts as the academy’s representative to the larger community and the Federation at large. Below them are the vice campus directors who oversee individual colleges within the academy structure. The exact colleges present will depend on the academy but they often include the College of Science Research, College of Philosophy, College of Engineering, College of Medicine, and others. Within each of these colleges are departments which teach specific courses (including interdisciplinary departments like Biomedical Engineering) and instructors work together under a department head to decide on classes and course requirements.
Starfleet Academy itself uses this model and features a campus director, vice campus directors, department heads, and subject professors as any other academy. Additionally it features cadet training officers who act as guidance counselors to cadets, cadet morale officers who organize community events, and staff development officers who oversee the complicated movement of Starfleet officers from active service to academy instructors and back. Though all Starfleet cadets attend classes and training at the San Francisco campus on Earth , numerous facilities exist throughout the Federation featuring training programs, field experience camps, externship programs, and other learning opportunities that require being off-world.
The Colony Administrator is equivalent to the Commanding Officer but as they occupy a civilian role their day-to-day functions can be quite different. Select three additional Focuses that have to do with the colony, planet, or star system. At the start of each mission, the colony administrator chooses one of their three Focuses, and every Main Character receives that as an additional Focus for the mission as the administrator makes resources and databases available.
The Colony Executive is equivalent to the Executive Officer and serves both as a support to the administrator and a check on their power. When a character succeeds on a Task assisted by the colony executive, they generate one bonus Momentum.
The Colony Records Manager oversees the colonies official records and licenses, its accounts, and its judicial system. Typically a records manager has high Science and/or Engineering Disciplines to deal with the many computers required of their position but they may also have high Command if they are highly involved in the judicial side of their job. One per mission, a records manager may create an Advantage without requiring aTask or spending any resources. This Advantage reflects some body of information or a legal matter that their office oversees.
The Colony Facilities Manager maintains the fabric of the colony, effectively the public relations manager of the colony government, but they also have a long list of responsibilities. Facilities managers work closely with colony executives to stay informed on the public’s needs, and they also organize major events to build a sense of community. They often have high Command Disciplines for interacting with the public. When using the Direct Task to coordinate individuals in their department, the facilities manager adds two d20s to their Dice Pool instead of the usual one D20.
The Colony Healthcare Supervisor handles the wellbeing of the colony, both the medical needs and the Personnel Resources department for those working directly for Colony Administration. They usually have high Command and Medicine Disciplines to navigate the aspects of their job. After succeeding on a Task to assess a health issue or a medical response, the healthcare supervisor gains one bonus Momentum, which must be used on the Obtain Information Momentum spend.
The Colony Transportation Manager maintains space transits in and out of the colony, all scheduled transports, and oversees the maintenance of all vehicles the colony maintains: shuttles, atmospheric vehicles, groundcraft, etc. If there colony is the only settlement on the planet they might also schedule and approve ships in orbit (unless a Starfleet contingent does) but on a planet with multiple colonies there’s likely to be a planet-wide authority which keeps the Transportation Manager updated through a database. Transportation Managers typically have high Conn Disciplines and often high Engineering as well. When the transportation manager negotiates with captains and pilots of visiting vehicles, they can use Conn instead of Command for Social Conflict.
The Colony Director of Public Works oversees the infrastructure needs of the colony as well as any specialty systems such as seismic compensators, perimeter fields, electrostatic shielding, etc. All of these physical structures are maintained by the engineers of the Department of Public Works and overseen by the director. When in the colony, the director of public works has the Advantage “Maintenance Teams” which represents the workers and specialists that maintain the colony’s infrastructure.
The Supervising Physician is the colony’s lead medical expert, reporting to the Colony Healthcare Supervisor. The supervising physician has the same benefit as the chief medical officer (core rulebook, p. 127) but applied to the colony.
The Transit Coordinator is a Starfleet officer who oversees Starfleet vessels around the colony. They communicate with Starfleet vessels entering orbit or Starfleet small craft landing at the facility, usually in concert with the civilian transportation manager. When assisting another character using the Conn Discipline, the transit coordinator can allow that character to reroll one d20.
The Campus Director of an academy handles campus-wide decisions and represents the academy to other organizations and the Federation at large. When another character in communication with the first officer spends a point of Determination, the campus director may spend 3 Momentum (Immediate) to let that character regain the spent point of Determination.
A Vice Campus Director is the head of a college within an academy. When choosing this role, a character should also establish which college they are leading such as the “VCD of Engineering College” or “VCD of College of Philosophy.” Once per mission, a vice campus director may create an Advantage without requiring a Task or spending any resources. This Advantage reflects some policy or research team started by the vice campus director.An Academy Instructor is a professor at a Federation university. They might lead a department, oversee research students in a laboratory, or write papers on important topics. Academy instructors gain an additional Focus related to their field of study, which must include the words “Education” or “Research.” When they assist another character using this Focus, that character can reroll one d20.