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STA Dev Blog 004: A Guide to Star Trek Adventures

STA Dev Blog 005: A Guide to Star Trek Adventures

By Sam Webb, Head of Product for Modiphius Entertainment

Extended Tasks in Star Trek Adventures

While they may seem daunting, extended tasks in Star Trek Adventures can be a fantastic tool to structure a bigger problem your player characters might face compared to an obstacle they can overcome with a single task. Extended tasks need more effort and time, like when Geordi tells Picard repairs will take hours, or when your science officer needs time to analyze the data they’ve collected.

To cover the basics, let’s talk about one conceit right away—extended tasks are just skill tests with a Stress track and injuries. They use exactly the same mechanics as taking Stress and suffering injuries in combat; we’re just applying those concepts to a problem your player characters are facing, instead of someone they’re fighting.

An extended task’s work track is its Stress track, and represents how much effort is involved. Tasks that require more work are longer, while tasks that don’t require much effort have shorter tracks. Breakthroughs represent key developments in getting the task finished, and this is what your player characters need to score to complete the task. Breakthroughs are the thing to focus on with extended tasks, because in the fiction of your scene they are the eureka moments, the points of discovery while getting the extended task done. An extended task’s magnitude is both the number of breakthroughs the player characters need to achieve, and also the Difficulty of their rolls, like the Difficulty of a normal task. Any resistance the extended task has is basically its armor—anything making the task more complicated or getting in the player characters’ way.

Keep it Interesting

When you’re using an extended task, you’ve got to make sure you keep it interesting, so that it doesn’t just become a roll-fest. When a breakthrough is achieved, what happens for the characters? It has to mean something, otherwise your players are just rolling and rolling until they’ve done the task. This is where your narration comes in! Whenever my players score a breakthrough, I tell them something about the progress they’ve made. They might learn something about what they’re doing, or I describe the result of what their characters are doing in the fiction. It’s really important to give them that feedback loop.

Let’s take an example, one that I’ll detail out at the bottom of the blog, so you can use it in your missions out in the Shackleton Expanse or wherever your crew may find themselves exploring. The science officers in my group are asked to look into some long-range sensor data that looks strange: probe telemetry nearby shows the planets in a different order than the station’s data! My players get to work with an extended task to figure out what’s wrong here, and I write notes on what each breakthrough means:

  • Breakthrough 1: The officers verify the data, the probe’s sensor readings are good—but so was the station’s! Analyzing probe data as it approached the system, it looks like the planets have moved!
  • Breakthrough 2: Metaphysics analysis suggests objects in the solar system, at the subatomic level, show a recent state of transition, cause currently unknown.
  • Breakthrough 3: There’s evidence from the probe near the system of a subspace anomaly. It looks like a fissure in normal spacetime, like a micro wormhole or similar phenomena.
  • Breakthrough 4: The players find an alien station close to the center of the subspace array. The subspace tear could be manufactured! 

Each time they make a breakthrough, I give my players a bit more information and tell them what they’ve found. If I left it right until the end, they’d have to get through four breakthroughs before they knew what was going on. I broke down the information so they learned a little more each time, and made it fun and interesting.

In a future article, we’ll go through some of the nuts and bolts of extended tasks and how you can use them for longer-term projects in your continuing missions.

Shifting Planets

Scientific Method Extended Task

Step 1: Observe (Star Trek Adventures core rulebook, p.157)

Step 2: Hypothesize (Star Trek Adventures core rulebook, p.157)

  • Idea 1:
  • Idea 2:
  • Idea 3:
  • Idea 4:
  • Idea 5:

Choose the “Right Way”

Step 3: Testing

Extended Task

Work track: ☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐☐ (20)

Magnitude: 4

              Breakthroughs: 4

              Difficulty: 4

Resistance: 2 with the Right Way, 4 without the Right Way

  • Breakthrough 1: The officers verify the data, the probe’s sensor readings are good—but so was the station’s! Analyzing probe data as it approached the system, it looks like the planets have moved!
  • Breakthrough 2: Metaphysics analysis suggests objects in the solar system, at the subatomic level, show a recent state of transition, cause currently unknown. Inform the players whether they have the “Right Way”.
  • Breakthrough 3: There’s evidence from the probe near the system of a subspace anomaly. It looks like a fissure in normal spacetime, like a micro wormhole or similar phenomena.
  • Breakthrough 4: The players find an alien station close to the center of the subspace array. The subspace tear could be manufactured!

Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep your frequencies open for additional STA development blogs on a wide variety of game-related topics in the coming months.

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