Continuing Conversations happily introduces Matter Heller. Who is Matt Heller? Let’s let him introduce himself!
“I’m a lifelong Trek geek. My parents raised me watching TNG every week, and one of my treasured family moments is when Picard was assimilated in “Best of Both Worlds” and then we realized we had to wait MONTHS for that to bear out. Star Trek has always been a part of my life, and telling stories has always come easy to me. I found RPGs early and tried every single version of Trek roleplaying out there. STA, for me, boils all those numbers on sheets down to a few important bits, and then the rest is stories! And that’s honestly my favorite part of all of this. I don’t feel like I’m trying to write a technical manual to write a character or a ship. I’m just making a thing that tells a story.”
Wonderful! And with that let’s jump into showing off some fun fan stuff Matt created for his game.
How do you feel about gaming?
Games are central to both my career and my hobbies, and so games that build tremendous, inviting communities like the ones that form around Star Trek (And STA in particular) are the best. We all get to brag about the cool things we invent, and no one’s rolling their eyes! They’re going, “I didn’t even think of that! Please share!” It’s incredible and makes it feel like no one has small ideas.
Let’s talk about your Cravic/Pralor Ship Stats.
The only things established about Cravic/Pralor by the Voyager episode “Prototype” are that their ships’ shields are impenetrable by Voyager’s weapons (they basically luck out when the bad guys get attacked by their opponent and use the distraction to save B’elanna), and that they use “Quantum Resonance Charges” as their primary ordnance. Rather than write a whole new weapon (when we were already inventing other stuff), the charges are just reskinned photon torpedoes. They still blow up just as good, only the Starfleet folks can’t really borrow them.
The rest, I tried to think of how the APUs, who show very little inquisitiveness—if an experiment fails, they give up instantly—would handle fighting an opponent who was their equal, more or less. Given the ships’ high shielding, I focused on the idea of the APU ships being infinitely survivable. Extra armor, super-heavy shields geared toward soaking up tremendous weights of fire, and being straightforward to repair. They’re meant to fight with minimal risk since they’re irreplaceable. Given the focus on survivability, tetryon weapons made sense. They’re geared toward combating strong shields, so of course, the Pralor/Cravic would lean into those weapons as a matter of course.
With all that decided, I fiddled w/ numbers until the Cravic’s focus on fighting their mirrored counterparts was reflected in their attributes and departments—they are incredible, artificial life, so computers and comms were defaulted as important (unlike the Kazon from the game’s previous arc). Weapons were high, but security was middling. They are warriors, but not all the APUs were built for that particular job. They were, however, all engineered, and had no need for medical facilities.
A few sessions after their first meeting with the Cravic, the crew investigated an unusual energy anomaly on sensors and found a stricken Pralor Frigate. These were only introduced in Star Trek Online, and hadn’t really been differentiated within the game from their bigger cousins. So I did! I made them signals intelligence and patrol craft, designed to surreptitiously watch enemy territory from afar and call in the big guns when an incursion happens. They had similar priorities attribute-wise, but being smaller craft without the direct warfare focus, I made them the closest thing the APUs had to scientific craft.
In the end, the Cravic/Pralor demonstrates a couple of interesting things about ship design in this system. First, there’s a fair amount of personality you can give just with numbers and a few talents – and the Utopia Planitia’s book’s starship assembly rules make it possible to fit just about any concept into a spaceframe.
The ships are based on the images here: https://sto.fandom.com/wiki/Automated_Personnel_Unit, and were used in a game I’m running personally for some friends scattered to the four winds by life and the pandemic. Our adventures aren’t broadcast, but I keep logs of everything the group gets up to at https://startrekodyssey-1.obsidianportal.com/