Last night we had a kind of “session 0”, since the previous week is what I’m calling “session -1”.
This week the crew translated their online-generated characters into Roll20 character sheets but the output of the character generation site did a lot of calculations that Roll20 also does. For example, this is “Flack Canaan”, security officer, rolling for damage:
As cool as this mountain of damage is from a player perspective, it’s…not correct. Flack’s weapon damage listed on the character sheet was 8, which the character creation website pre-calculated from the base Type-2 damage of 3 plus the character’s Security Discipline of 5. While this is correct, Roll20 then went and added another Security Discipline value on top of that, resulting in a whopping 13 damage dice! I have since repaired all player weapon damage to offer only the correct values listed in the source material.
I had intended to “quickly” go over the rules, because at the heart of it, Star Trek Adventures is not a mechanically difficult game. You select an Attribute and Discipline, roll 2 or more d20, and each die roll that comes in under the sum of your numbers is a success. Roll more successes than the Difficulty value for the Task, and you succeed! Unfortunately, like most RPGs, the devil is in the details, and by details I mean the almost 400 page core rulebook, which has exceptions and situational conditions strewn all over the place. The bane of my existence is when RPGs bury modifiers in paragraphs used to describe talents, abilities, or other character traits. As a result, our quick rules overview took about 2 hours as we discussed the basic rules, then the known off-shoots of those rules, and then the “behind the fruit salad in the fridge” rules.
What we ended up doing was running through a “holodeck simulation” combat round which was meant to answer two questions. The first was how to apply the rules during actual play. This worked very well, with no stakes, as many do-overs as we needed to ensure that things felt right, and left us with confidence that we all understand the basic approach going forward. The second was to learn how much of a pain in the ass Roll20 is as a platform. We had some initial issues of players not being able to create their own characters, followed up by a round of “who can edit what, when, and why”. The Assigning of the Tokens ceremony was held, emceed by me, the only one who could select and assign tokens before a player was able to take control of their own character.
Then we had a discussion about “fog or no fog; dynamic light or no dynamic light”. I had been experiencing completely unreliable results when playing with Roll20’s updated dynamic lighting system, and wasn’t sure it was going to hold up. Apparently things looked a lot…brighter…on the player side, and having another body in the game helped smooth out a lot of the hit-or-miss results I had been seeing. As a result, we’re going to go with the “fog and dynamic light” which helps with LOS when limited visibility is appropriate.
I have a few things on my list to research before we start the game next week in earnest, and I think we can get everything boiled down to a stock that will allow us to have fun. I am no longer confident that Star Trek Adventures is “as simple” as I thought it was from just reading the core rulebook, as “no plan survives contact with the enemy” is as true for RPG rules as it is for real-world combat.