One thing I discovered while GM’ing Star Trek Adventures is that I am terrible at coming up with Complications quickly. In fact, the game stops dead when I have to invent one on the spot, figuring out the implications and effects. It doesn’t help that my players’ cursed dice seem to roll Complications all the time.
To make judging Complications easier, I’m playtesting Complication Cards. The PDFs (two-page format or condensed onto one page) may be downloaded through the links. It will help to have a copy to follow along.
How To Use Complication Cards: The rules state that Complications can increase the Difficulty of a Task, cancel out an Advantage, or prevent a character from attempting something that might otherwise be possible. It shouldn’t be as debilitating as something introduced with a lot of Threat, and that the hindrance should be overcome with a Task or short Challenge.
The Complication Card focuses on the ‘make a Task impossible‘ component. The idea behind it is that a Complication can make certain actions impossible or required, and that another Task (equivalent to Create Advantage, a Difficulty 2 Task) is needed to overcome the Complication. Assuming you don’t want to cancel an existing Advantage or increase difficulty in this instance, you can use the Complication Card to invent something that goes wrong.
Using 6×6 grids that correspond to Attributes and Disciplines for Personal Complications, and to Systems and Departments for Starship Complications, I filled each grid box with a hindrance that might conceivably be solved by using the stats associated with that row and column. I left the hindrance open to interpretation, so that you can fit it to whatever situation fits the current one.
For example: in the Personal Complication grid, the junction of Command and Control is “Cannot Be Assisted Until You Succeed At”. Let’s interpret this as the person suffering the Complication dealing with a very chaotic fight where “he cannot be assisted until he succeeds at Command+Control (Difficulty 2)”, to convey to his teammates how exactly he needs their help. Until he is able to perform this Task successfully, the Complications prevent his allies from Assisting him.
Let’s try another one: in a fight, a character rolls a Complication. Let’s pick “Cannot Spend Momentum For Swift Task Until You Succeed At”. That’s in Security and Daring. We can define the situation as nerves as she is being shot at, meaning she may be too frazzled to do multiple actions, until she uses her Security training and relies on her ability to act under stress (Daring) to calm herself. This is also Difficulty 2.
For Starship Complications, it works slightly differently. A Starship Complication can usually be overcome if someone on your Crew performs a Task assisted by the specific Ship System.
As an example, suppose that during Starship Combat, during a torpedo launch at the enemy, the Tactical Officer rolled a Complication. You chose (at random) “Starship Weapon Requires Calibration Until Crew Succeeds At”. That’s under Science+Computers, so call that a glitch in the torpedo targeting system that forces manual Calibration (a Prepare minor action), until someone on the crew succeeds at fixing it, say using their Engineering+Reason (Difficulty 2) assisted by the Ship’s Science+Computers. But what if the ship’s Computers system is down? Then unfortunately, that Complication sticks until the affected system is repaired.
You can choose something appropriate by scanning the chart, or choose at random. Use two d6, or just close your eyes and stab your finger somewhere. Landed on something that doesn’t fit? Look to the boxes adjacent to it, or roll again. Feel free to deviate from the required roll as you see fit.
The charts are colour-coded, with light blue being a unique subset on the Personal Complication Card. In instances where you are using Conn for Extra-Vehicular Activity or low-gravity situations, Conn represents training in those environments. Since EVA may not appear in many scenarios, those cells are likely to see little use, so are highlighted. (In the case of Conn+Presence, it uses the Conn’s application to Starfleet protocol, rather than EVA training.)
I’d love to hear some feedback on this, so let me know if this helps you in any way, and if anything can be improved. Does it help? I had specific thoughts on what Tasks each cell might represent, but have left it for your own imagination to set the scene. Can you extrapolate a Complication from the chart?