By Nathan Dowdell, 2d20 System Developer
Conflicts and Combat, Part 2
Continuing our exploration of conflict in Star Trek Adventures, this time we’re looking at making attacks and inflicting harm.
Set Phasers to Stun
Making an attack is a straightforward process, which expands upon the normal rules for performing a task.
When you attack someone, you must make a choice: to attack with the intent to kill or not. If you choose to attack with lethal intent, you immediately add a point to Threat—deadly intent escalates situations and creates uncertainty and tension. This is also true of NPC enemies: they must spend Threat to make lethal attacks, as their deadly intent transforms tension into real peril.
If you don’t choose to make a lethal attack, then your attack is non-lethal, intended to incapacitate rather than kill. There’s no cost to making a non-lethal attack, so if you forget to declare that an attack is lethal, the game proceeds as if you’d had chosen to make a non-lethal attack.
Once you’ve made this choice, proceed with the attack itself. If you’re making a melee attack—striking a foe within arm’s reach with a melee weapon or a body part—this is an opposed task, with the target as your opponent, both of you using Daring + Security, and rolling against a Difficulty of 1. If you’re making a ranged attack—attacking a more distant enemy with directed energy or a projectile—just make a normal task, using Control + Security with a Difficulty of 2. The circumstances, and uses of Momentum and Threat, can affect this as normal.
If you make a melee attack, and win the opposed task, you strike at your foe and can inflict Stress… but if you lose the opposed task, your opponent is permitted to strike you instead; melee against a skilled foe is a risky proposition, as they can easily counterattack and retaliate.
If you make a ranged attack, and succeed, your attack can inflict Stress. Fail the task, and the attack has no effect, though a complication may suggest that you’ve struck something important nearby.
Winning an opposed task for a melee attack—whether you were the original attacker or not—allows you a selection of outcomes. The most straightforward is to damage your opponent, as discussed below, but you have a few other choices, such as disengaging from the fight, attempt to grab and wrestle with your opponent, or attempting to shove your enemy away. These options give you the means to restrain or escape foes without inflicting harm, should you wish.
All characters in Star Trek Adventures have a Stress track, which represents that character’s general ability to defend themselves and avoid immediate danger. When your character is struck by a successful attack or hazard, they will suffer Stress, representing their efforts to protect themselves, ducking out of the way of a phaser beam, or blocking a punch.
If your character suffers too much Stress in one attack, or the attack fills their Stress track, then your character is Injured: there’s only so much they can do to defend themselves.
When an attack is successful, the attacker rolls several Challenge Dice. The number of dice rolled will be based on the weapon and the attacker’s Security score (as characters with high Security are able to use weapons more effectively). The total rolled is the amount of Stress inflicted, though if you have any Resistance (from wearing armor, from being a particularly hardy species, or from cover you’re behind) you reduce the total Stress inflicted by 1 for each point of Resistance you have.
Five or more Stress inflicted (after reducing it with Resistance) means an Injury is inflicted. Similarly, if the attack fills your Stress track, you suffer an Injury. If your Stress track was already full before the attack, you suffer an Injury. These conditions can stack – if an attack inflicts 5+ Stress and fills your Stress Track, you’re Injured twice.
If you’re Injured, you’re incapacitated and no longer able to take part in the combat. You no longer take turns of your own, you can’t defend yourself against attacks, and you cannot do anything else. If you took an injury from an attack that was non-lethal, then you’ll wake up fine at the start of the next scene. If the attack which injured you was lethal, then you need medical attention or you will die at the end of the current scene. If you take a second Injury while injured, the severity of the effect worsens—a character who takes a non-lethal injury will now require medical attention to avoid death, while a character who took a lethal injury dies instantly upon their second injury.
Heroes and Villains
Player characters and some forms of NPC have a special option when it comes to injury.
When you suffer an Injury, you have the option to Avoid Injury. When you do so, you still suffer the Stress from the attack, but do not suffer the Injury. However, to do so, you must spend 2 Momentum, add 2 to Threat, or suffer a Complication. Notable and Major NPCs can do this too, either spending 2 Threat or suffering a Complication.
But there’s a limit to this. You can only Avoid Injury once during a scene, but once you’ve used it, you may use the Recover Task to regain that use (but you can’t stockpile these uses). Notable NPCs can only use Avoid Injury once and can’t regain uses. A Major NPC can Avoid Injury as often as they wish to and can afford to pay the price.
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.