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We recently dug into the importance of Values as a game mechanic because of how it reflects the shows and movies. Characters in Star Trek are defined by their values, so characters in Star Trek Adventures are defined by their Values. Those definitions are important, but an excellent source of drama are when they are challenged by people or experiences that happen during play. The heroes of Starfleet always seem to know the right thing to do…but that often comes with the cost of changing what they believe in.
In addition to gaining a powerful Determination point when a character’s Values cause them trouble, players have an opportunity to redefine their character by challenging a Value. Once per session, a player can decide a Value has been challenged. They immediately get a point of Determination, but they also must cross out the Value and are unable to use it for the rest of the session. This is a critical time for the character as one of their defining traits is now missing. That’s why they get the Determination; Starfleet Officers tend to focus under pressure.
More often than not, these challenges should happen naturally in play. Good GMs should have a list of each character’s Values handy to know when to bring them into play. But, GMs looking to focus on a specific character (such as for a Spotlight Milestone), might want to write a main plot (or a subplot) around a character’s Virtue. The Virtues are things the players chose for a reason, so focusing on a character Love of Vintage Technology is giving players what they want. Picking a Value that has not seen a lot of use also lets the player decide if they want to challenge it to replace it with something that will come up more often.
As an example of Values being changed during the shows, let’s look at Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s transformation into Locutus of Borg and back again.
At the end of “Encounter at Farpoint” Picard cites one of his original Values: Let’s See What’s Out There. The first few seasons show him a lot, both good and bad, but the real threat begins when he’s captured by the Borg during “The Best of Both Worlds”. It’s during these episodes where Let’s See What’s Out There changes, ever so briefly, to I Am Locutus Of Borg. Picard challenges this Value the moment he gives the hint to the crew of the Enterprise to put the Borg to sleep. He changes the Value at the end of the episode to The Line Must Be Drawn On The Borg, which stays intact until the pivotal scene in First Contact where he challenges it again to get Determination to keep the Borg from changing history.
Once a Virtue has been challenged, it’s time to rewrite it to reflect the development of the character. Rewrites should incorporate the moment the Virtue was challenged but can also reflect the choices a character has made in play. If a Fresh-Faced Cadet challenged that Virtue to protect the group when their ship was damaged, coming out of the episode as a Confident Young Officer makes sense. On the other hand, if the cadet has faced a lot of instances where Starfleet has let them down, Shaken Faith in Starfleet might be a better choice. Feel free to bounce suggestions around the table for a rewrite, but keep in mind there should be clear ways for the GM to use the Value positively, negatively and challenge in the future.
If you’re ready to catch Star Trek Adventures in action (albeit in the 24th century), the crew of the USS Sally Ride flies every Wednesday at 9:30 PM PT on Twitch.
Feature Image Credits: Modiphius
Image Credits: CBS, Modiphius
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, his Twitter is here and his meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.