Era of Play: Star Trek Online

Welcome to an Era of Play article, detailing other time periods you can set a Star Trek Adventures campaign.

Created by Cryptic Studios and launched in 2010, Star Trek Online is a Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying game set in the Star Trek universe thirty years after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis and twenty-two years after the Hobus supernova referenced in 2009’s Star Trek.

A relatively near future (for The Next Generation), most familiar faces are still alive. While some remain in Starfleet and are active in the game, others have retired or even died. Similarly, technology is fairly close to that seen in The Next Generation or Voyager.

The 25th Century

As a combat focused video game, the 25th Century of Star Trek Online is designed for maximum conflict, to justify players freely attacking Klingon and Romulan vessels and PvP between players of the Federation and Klingon factions. Because players want to fight and defeat the Borg, that threat could have not be destroyed by the virus seen at the end of Star Trek Voyager, nor could they have been defeated following a mass invasion, such as presented in the Destiny novels timeline.

STO - Kim
Image © Cryptic Studios

In the timeline of Star Trek Online, following the Hobus supernova that destroyed Romulus, the entire region was destabilized. The Klingons invaded Romulan space, taking advantage of their longtime enemies’ weakness. When the Federation protested, the Klingons responded unfavorably, which weakened the Khitomer Accords and the alliance between those powers.

Meanwhile, the Gorn Hegemony attacked and destroyed several Klingon ships. This led to swift retaliation that escalated to a war between the Gorn and Klingons. When the Nausicaans allied with the Gorn, the Klingons partnered with the Orions. The few Klingon investigation into the cause of the Gorn attacks revealed the influence of Species 8472, also known as the Undine. Apparently, the species was infiltrating the Beta Quadrant from Fluidic Space, focusing their sabotage not on the Federation, but on the Klingons, through infiltrating and manipulating the Gorn Hegemony. However, not enough evidence was discovered to sway the High Council from their war efforts. In 2404, the Gorn Hegemony surrendered and became a vassal state of the Klingon Empire.

Once again the Federation protested the actions of the Klingon Empire. This time, the Klingons responded by withdrawing from the  Khitomer Accords, formally ending their alliance. This quickly escalated into a cold war between the Empire and Federation, with a few border skirmishes and battles between the two powers.

STO - factions
Image © Cryptic Studios

The Romulan Star Empire splintered following the destruction of its capital, Romulus. The capital is moved to Rihan on Rator III in 2392, which houses the reinstated Senate. A former commander of the Tal Shiar, Sela, became Praetor in 2403 and consolidated power over the remains of the empire. She attempted numerous times to rebuild the empire, and in 2409 she declared herself the Empress. Meanwhile, Romulan refugees aided by the Reman Resistance, formed the offshoot Romulan Republic. The Republic is more focused on peaceful reconstruction and reunification with Vulcan, and oppose the Romulan Empire. Not officially recognised as a separate state by the Empire, the Republic is dismissed as a terrorist organization. Based on New Romulus, the Republic grew to control several systems and colonies throughout Romulan territory. The commanders of the Republic work with Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Force, and the Republic soon develop a loose alliance with the other Beta Quadrant powers.

Technology

STO - shields
Image © Cryptic Studios

For the most part, technology in Star Trek Online is comparable to that seen previously. While technology such as shields and hull armour have likely improved, so have the weaponry minimizing the effect of advancements.

Because of its nature as a videogame, most technological advancements seen are related to gameplay necessities. For example, Starfleet officers make use of personal force fields for defence, which is used to justify character surviving a dozen phaser blasts or sword swings. And speeding travel across the galaxy is aided by both Quantum Slipstream Drive and Transwarp, which enables ships to sprint through space or teleport to select systems, so players don’t have to spend twenty minutes slowly travelling across the entire map when they decide to visit the auction house or tweak their ship & uniform.

Shields and Weapons

In a game set entirely in the 25th Century, no change needs to be made to the armaments of ships: any improvements to one aspect type of system has been countered by improvements elsewhere.

If facing ships from earlier eras, when calculating the resistance and weapon damage of 25th Century ships, treat the ship’s scale as 1 higher.

Shipwide Holoemmitters

A technological advancement from the late 24th Century, starships are now equipped with holoemmitters on all decks, allowing holograms to be generated almost anyplace on the ship. This allows for photonics crewmembers, such as the famous Emergency Holographic Doctor from Voyager. It’s common to generate security holograms to repel boarders, additional engineers to enact repairs, and the like.

Photonic crew are treated as regular supporting characters and count against the crew limit, only they are not improved after being used: to prevent unnecessary sentience, holographic crew are limited in their ability to gain memories. However, they can be instantly restored if injured and cannot be permanently killed.

Quantum Slipstream Drive

STO - Slipstream
Image © Cryptic Studios

First used by the U.S.S. Voyager in 2375, slipstream drives were added to more ships starting in the 2380s. The drive provided a quick and energy efficient method of travelling vast distances, but there were a number of drawbacks. Maintaining a Slipstream corridor for longer than a couple hours was problematic, requiring escalating computer processing power to keep up with changing phase variances. This made it difficult to travel exceedingly long distances, such as from the Alpha to Delta Quadrant. Paradoxically, Slipstream corridors had a large minimum travel distance, making them impractical for travelling within a couple sector’s distance. Trying to travel to a point within fifteen light-years could easily deposit a ship farther from the destination than when it started. This meant QSD was useful for mid-range journeys, such as travelling from one side of the Federation to another, or from Federation space to the edge of explored space.

Opening a quantum slipstream corridor requires a character, typically one at Helm, to spend 2 Power and attempt a Difficulty of 1 Control + Conn Task assisted by the ship’s Engines + Engineering. 

Maintaining a stable slipstream corridor for a short jump requires a Difficulty 3 Reason + Science Task assisted by the ship’s Sensors + Science. Jumps farther than a couple sectors are an Extended Task the same difficulty, with a Work of at least 12 and a Magnitude of at least 3.

Personal Shields

While personal force fields were  used in the 24th Century, power requirements limited their use. By the 25th Century, all commissioned officers were protected by personal shields, which offered somewhat less protection but were available at all times. A thin underweave beneath the uniform generates an energy field a centimeters away from the body, automatically activating when the suit’s passive sensors detect high energy pulses.

Personal shields grant 3 Resistance Dice. Each time the personal shield takes damage, the number of Resistance Dice is reduced by 1 for the remainder of that scene. However, if you take the Recover Task, the shield recharges and you regain 1 Resistance Dice.

25th Century personal shields do not have an Opportunity or Escalation cost, however Klingons, Romulans, and other factions make use of similar shielding.

Uniforms

Cryptic has released a comprehensive guide to their updated uniforms for 2410. This includes the standard duty uniforms as well as the dress and excursion variants.

The 25th Century Starfleet uniform is inspired by the black-and-grey uniform of the 2370s worn during the Dominion War. It features black trousers and a jacket with lighter grey shoulders. Dividing the shoulders is band of colour, coded to the officer’s department: command red, operations gold, and sciences blue. The band and collar is edged with a raised steel piping. Beneath the jacket, a department coloured undershirt is worn. The uniform is complemented with a belt,which also houses manual controls for the suit’s force field.

A ship’s command officer wears a variants with white shoulders rather than grey. This is typically the captain, but a commander or even lieutenant-commander that is given command of a starship can wear the command variant.

STO - Uniforms
Image © Cryptic Studios

The uniform’s combadge is the familiar Starfleet delta. Slightly larger than other combades, the delta also restores the departmental insignia to its raised center. The combadge is typically a dark steel colour, but flag officer’s badges have more sheen.

STO - Combadge

Rank insignia of the 25th Century are rectangular, similar to the larger pips of the 22nd Century Earth Starfleet uniforms.

Non-commissioned officers return to only having a single hollow pip.

STO - Ranks

Flag officers, such as admirals, wear their own variant. Their tunic is all black with bright metallic highlights. Rear and Vice admirals have silver edging, combages, and rank pins while admirals and fleet admirals have gold.

STO - Admiral Uniform
Image © Cryptic Studios

Campaigns

The era of Star Trek Online is focused on conflicts larger than the Dominion War. The series lurches from one disastrous event to another. But that’s to be expected for this type of game. Smaller stories don’t work as well: there’s no room for bottle episodes or interpersonal drama. It’s an action game.

It’s certainly possible to just play through the events of a Star Trek Online as a tabletop campaign. However, one issue with STO is the sheer number of conflicts that occurred in such a small length of time. As a player it always bugged me that my character advanced from rookie Ensign to Fleet Admiral in less than a year, and a similar thing could happen applying the Star Trek Adventures’ reputation system as written to a campaign with over a dozen major arcs each comprised of several missions. Ignoring the timeline and shifting the events of the game’s storyline to cover five or even ten years helps, giving the events and reconstruction time to breathe.

Alternatively, the game’s focus on big missions leaves lots of room for small side campaigns set entirely during any of the preceding seasons. And entire campaign could be focused solely on side stories about the Undine infiltration, the Breen and Borg invasions, the Vaadwaur conflict in the Delta Quadrant, and the like. Or a campaign could reimagine the game’s missions for play in the game, either from the perspective of the player or a side NPC. It’d be interesting to have a campaign from the perspective of Captain Va’Kel Shon as he loses the U.S.S. Belfast and is given command of the Enterprise-F.

I imagine most gamemasters would prefer to tell their own stories in the STO era rather than rely on the game’s stories. The year 2410 offers opportunities for very different adventures and missions.

There is likely a sense of pessimism amongst the Federation. Following the Dominion War and Shinzon’s Rebellion on Romulus, there was a sense of optimism for the future. A golden age for the Alpha Quadrant as the four major powers put aside their differences and worked together to rebuild. And, instead, everything fell apart. While things have mostly settled, after thirty years many will assume another crisis is imminent and inevitable.

A campaign in 2410 can feed into this pessimism, with campaigns about internal strife as planet’s debate seceding from the Federation or focusing on hardships caused by the recent wars. These campaigns can have missions dealing with small internal threats from smaller groups, such as subfactions or rogue elements who wish to disturb the peace for selfish gains, personal revenge, to restore lost territory, or simply because they cannot handle peacetime.

A campaign could also subvert the overall pessimism, focusing on a crew determined to make things better. With so much going wrong, there’s ample opportunities to fix things.

With the tensions preceding the current era and gradual rebuilding of treaties, a diplomatic game could be interesting. Forging and restoring alliances between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, or working with the fledgling Romulan Republic to establish colonies and trade agreements. A Corp of Engineers game could be interesting as well, focusing on rebuilding and reconstruction. After several years of larger conflicts, there are bound to be numerous small conflicts that were ignored as Starfleet was busy elsewhere, and have grown more dire.

Campaigns set in the 25th Century can also focus on traditional stories of exploration. With so much uncertainty, it makes sense that Starfleet would return to its traditional values of peaceful exploration in an attempt to recapture the past or return to its roots. The Quantum Slipstream Drive allows ships to jump to the distant edges of known space while still being able to quickly Slipstream back to the heart of Federation territory. This opens up new reaches of space for exploration. Starfleet might jump to a distant and unexplored sector, then establish a base camp from which to explore this new sector. A campaign could be focused on either a crew of a ship that is part of such an exploratory fleet or the crew manning a beachhead station.

 

STO-header

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.