Need to slam your players with a Linear or Gated Challenge to keep them busy during a game? Want to toss in an Extended Task to make their lives miserable? Don’t have time to whip up plausible technobabble? Welcome to Scotty’s Tech Manual, a handy resource to help you keep your games rolling while everything is blowing up around your characters.
Maybe a key system has suffered a breach. Perhaps you have been hoarding threat and need a cool place to spend it. This is a creative way to create complications, stacking them on each other to form a Linear or Gated Challenge. As per the game rules, it costs 2 Threat to create a complication, so each step in the challenge costs a minimum of 2 Threat +1 more if the difficulty range is above 2 on any steps in the challenge. [Note: Tasks listed with letters (ex. 2a and 2b) mean that both items must be completed before moving onto the next step.]
How to use this resource
- Determine the ship system that you want to vex. (This may be because of a recent breach.)
- Select one of the challenges below.
- Decide on the length of time (rounds, minutes, hours, days) for each task to take. (Use this to create suspense and make Time into a condition for your campaign.)
- Inform your players about the steps. (This is Scotty saying, “Cap’n, I can get communications back online, but it’s going to take me at least four hours.”)
Sample Linear and Gated Challenges for Communication Failures
Subspace Data Transmission Interference (Linear Challenge)
1. Restore Focused Transducer. Insight + Engineering/Science with a difficulty 2.
2. Identify Subspace Relay Network. Reason + Conn/Security with a difficulty of 2.
3. Restart the Optronic Feedback Infuser. Control + Engineering/Science with a difficulty of 2.
Total Threat Spend = 6
Deflector Misaligned Creating Inverse Subspace Differential (Gated Challenge)
1. Eliminate Energy Surge from EPS Conduits. Insight + Engineering/Science with a difficulty 3.
2a. Decouple the Deflector Array. Reason + Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
2b. Select Correct Replacement Parts from Inventory. Control + Command/Engineering with a Difficulty of 2.
3. Replace Damaged Deflector Parts. Reason + Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
4. Initialize Deflector Array. Reason + Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
Total Threat Spend = 11
Full System Failure of Transceiver Array (Linear Challenge)
1. Refocus Acute Subsonic Gradient. Control + Engineering/Science with a difficulty 2.
2. Reconfigure the Tricyclic Phase Inducer with Bi-spatial Emitters. Insight + Engineering/Science with a difficulty of 3.
3. Reboot Transceiver Array. Reason + Engineering/Science with a difficulty of 2.
Total Threat Spend = 7
Lethal Electromagnetic Radiation Pouring From Communications Array Due to Unexpected Polaric Interference (Gated Challenge)
1a. Order Panicked and Irradiated Crew to Emergency Containment Stations. Control/Presence + Command with a difficulty of 2.
1b. Initiate Emergency Containment Fields to Isolate Radiation Leaks. Control/Daring + Engineering/Security with a difficulty of 2.
1c. Inoculate Crew from Radiation Poisoning. Daring/Reason + Medicine/Science with a difficulty 4.
2. Coordinate Damage Control Teams to Isolate Leaks. Control/Reason + Conn/Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
3. Repair Leaks and Restore Communications Array. Insight/Reason + Engineering/Science with a difficulty of 2.
Total Threat Spend = 12
Subspace Static Overloading Audio Array Creating Deafening Buzz (Gated Challenge)
1. Initiate Text-Only Communication Protocol as Audio Speakers Are Overwhelmed with Loud Buzz Control + Command with a difficulty 2.
2a. Order and Distribute Earplugs and Headsets from Inventory to Compensate for Noise. Control + Command/Medicine with a difficulty of 2.
2b. Shutdown Subspace Transceivers. Reason + Conn/Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
3. Isolate Faulty Hardwire Audio Units. Insight/Reason + Engineering and ship’s Computers + Engineering a difficulty of 2.
4. Manually Cut All Audio Feeds. Control + Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
5. Replace Audio Conduits and Perform a System Restore. Reason + Engineering with a difficulty of 2.
Total Threat Spend = 12
Sample Extended Tasks for Communication Failures
“Unlike normal Tasks, Extended Tasks cannot be overcome in a single attempt. Extended Tasks should be used sparingly, and only in situations where there is additional pressure or tension, such as during combat, or when there is only a limited amount of time to succeed. Extended Tasks use a mechanism similar to how damage is inflicted in combat, to represent activities that will take an uncertain amount of time and effort to complete, which is ideally suited to situations where there is an increasing peril or risk of harm the longer the activity takes to complete.” [Core Rulebook page 90.]
Unlike the Linear and Gated Challenge, I don’t think a GM needs to spend Threat for this. The Gamemaster and Players can negotiate the appropriate Attributes and Disciplines to use.
The Gamemaster decides how long they have to complete this Extended Task.
(For example, the player vessel had stumbling into a nebula where visual communication is hampered. The Romulans may have disabled communications on the player vessel and charged their hull with a neutrino burst making it appear to be an active cloaking device. Several Starfleet vessels are ordered to take out what appears to be an enemy Romulan ship when it is actually the players’ ship. Getting comms back online will keep them from being rendered into space dust. And they have only 15 minutes before they are in weapons range!)
Entire Communications Array Nonresponsive
Work 15. Magnitude 3. Resistance 2. Difficulty 3.
Here are some other Extended Tasks that you could throw into your game:
Construct a Subspace Distress Beacon from Only Pre-Warp Technology
Work 14. Magnitude 2. Resistance 2. Difficulty 2.
Escape Temporal Anomaly That Causes Rapid Audiophonic Degradation of Incoming Signals
Work 15. Magnitude 2. Resistance 2. Difficulty 3.
Construct Harmonic Interface to Communicate with Away Team Lost in Ion Storm
Work 16. Magnitude 2. Resistance 2. Difficulty 2.
Disable Incoming Carrier Wave That is Mutating Crew
Work 19. Magnitude 3. Resistance 3. Difficulty 4.
Track Down Lifeform in Communications Network that is Bringing People’s Personal Logs to Life
Work 20. Magnitude 3. Resistance 3. Difficulty 4.
Construct a Communicator from Scratch Using Only Bronze Age Technology (this might take a few years)
Work 20. Magnitude 4. Resistance 4. Difficulty 4.