Start of mission: 8 threat. (2 per character)
Log: “after an arduous six weeks retrofitting each and every reactor on the Delta Pavonis VI colony, my engineering team is finally returning to the Farragut. She’s a sight for sore eyes.”
SCENE: Shuttle on approach, completing a “welcome back” exchange with the officer on watch on the bridge. (NPC).
Traits in play: “relaxed atmosphere” and “need some rest” (personal complication on all returning crew)
Characters present: Chief Engineer, Flight Controller, CMO (returning frontier doctor), possible Science Officer and/or Counselor. (Attending to other details on the colony. Cratefuls of biological samples for lab study might be on board) Supporting Cast can be members of engineering team or aides to other MCs present. Give some dialogue for a likable Notable gold-shirted NPC crewmember who was along on the mission. Bring to light that any previously introduced deck officer is assisting the landing from the shuttlebay control room.
Allow a task to complete the landing of the shuttle (difficulty 0, fatigue increases complication range (and difficulty, if pilot is a species that gets tired easily–Humans…) Provide assistance from the deck officer and the ship die of the shuttle (these will only complicate on 20). Use complication to boost threat, spending 1 threat to create a momentary feeling of danger, sensed by telepaths more acutely. (Only telepathic species can attempt a task to gain intuition about what is “about to happen.’)
An NPC friend might be waiting behind the red line with refreshments and a warm welcome; any MCs that chose not to activate SCs and be out of the scene have the opportunity to enter the scene with “the cake 🍰”
Empty the threat pool as the away team debarks. Spend 3 threat for a scale 3 vessel of unknown origin, possibly an energy based life form, materializing, just visible through.the closing shuttle bay doors, having “tailgated” its way inside the shields.
Attack (difficulty 2) with the energy arc from the vessel against the PC’s ship. The energy arc has versatile 3, spread, high-yield, and the equivalent of the Targeting computer ship talent, and otherwise attacks as a phaser cannon (scale+2 damage, close range). Attack structure, and prioritize devasating attack spend. Use the injury from structure hits to injure (lethally) one PC and one NPC (notable) in scene. (The NPC will not avoid, and will need medical attention)
(It is okay to miss this attack. The ship will be close to crippled or reeling. Remember to keep emptying any threat as soon as you can after you receive it, to show another sucker-punch is not coming)
The creature, as it is threatened, then attempts to flee. (See below). Describe a phaser bolt arcing toward the creature from the bridge and the deck playing rattling underfoot as the ship moves away from its assailant. Was it a creature at all? Who just attacked us? (see sidebar, Discovery: Did Our Vigilance Lapse?) Spend threat liberally to Create Problem for any tractor beam locks or other attacks on the creature the PCs may attempt. (The Shuttle Bay’s dedicated tractors may be within easy reach). Use the group challenge rules (1 task/assist per character, then difficulty increases for each additional task after the first) reckon when the creature moves off or the PC ship gets safe. The scene is not necessarily over. (See below)
Spend 3 threat for a fire to break out or dangerous cargo to topple over and need immediate intervention, possibly as a result of evasive action from the bridge (especially if the initial attack missed). For and alternate cost of 4 threat, one crewmember is “attacked” by the deadfall or fire 🔥, requiring a Base difficulty 1 Fitness task to dodge a 5CD (Intense) attack. Anyone lingering near, or -ending a task adjacent to- the Hazmat Spill/fire takes 5 stress per minute. (They will have to avoid injury or pass out; apply chemical burns or smoke inhalation for avoid-by-complication). A clever player might use cover or a shield to reduce this damage (that is okay).
Spend 2 threat for the lights to go out, triggering emergency lights. Increase difficulty of most tasks requiring vision, except for low-light species like Tellarite. Increases complication range of delicate operations (like first aid). Requires a base difficulty 1 engineering task to manually override and restore lights.
The focus of the scene is on the returning engineering team, and none of them are on the bridge. Attending to injuries, and rushing to any urgent damage control on the warp core (if engines were breached) is likely the next step.
II: Settle The Wreckage
In this scene, the Captain awakens to her ship being rent apart. It is her responsibility to put the pieces back together and respond. If the captain was at the welcoming party in the shuttlebay, frame the scene with the XO. Optionally, you may keep the damage status of the ship secret, to be revealed by the captain’s inquiries.
SCENE TWO: ANTICIPATED: ZERO TO THREE THREAT
SKIP THIS SCENE AND JUMP TO “BRIEFING ROOM” IF THE ENERGY CREATURE FAILED TO SEVERELY DAMAGE THE SHIP.
Option: If there are no urgent breach effects, begin the scene up as a timed challenge (4 Intervals). If there is a chance of recovering the sensor logs from the computers (which may be breached), this is the moment. If the captain wants to get ahead of the ball, or make sure the wounded are tended to…there is still some difficulty in getting to where she wants to be. If Intervals run out before she arrives at her intended destination, Add 4 to threat.
If this scene begins to affect pacing, AND threat is ballooning, consider using a reversal with an EPS breach and a cliffhanging moment (if this option is exercised, cut to scene 3.2 ‘sickbay’ with the characters from this scene being treated for minor plasma burns).
Characters Present: Captain/XO + (Chief of Security OR a Security SC). optionally:
- another 1-2 security SCs for a total number of characters up to the # of players.
- Option: Run this as a solo scene with any player that was not present in scene 1 (Counselor, CMO, Flight Controller, Science). Focus on the two ‘basic challenges’ below, and don’t hesitate to use the reversal option below. If you do use the option, Use the timed challenge option below. When the intervals expire, strongly consider activating the reversal to sickbay.
Traits in Play:
Location Trait: “Door Lockout.” The captain’s quarters have gone into an emergency lockdown, and the electronic door has deactivated.
Character Trait (captain): “Relaxed Attire OR Reverie”
Open the scene on the captain, asleep or engaged in some sort of self-care activity (like reading a book or meditating). In the split-seconds of the creature’s attack on the ship– and the ship’s subsequent wild maneuvering — the Captain is rolled out of bed.
OPTION: Spend 1 threat to have the captain roll out of bed to a violent ‘thud.’ apply 1CD (vicious) stress.
The Security team is outside the captain’s door. Have one of the security team PCs open the scene, shouting to the captain through the bulkhead.
BASIC CHALLENGE: Retrieve the Captain
If using combat initiative, the turbo-lift is 3 zones from the door to the captain’s quarters.
If communications are online, the captain may wish to just walk to the lift while speaking to various crewmembers by way of her combadge. Each round of ‘walk and talk,’ apply 2CD stress to all characters from the sparks. Any leadership tasks or DIRECT actions by the captain over comms will consume intervals if using a timed challenge mechanic. It is possible for the security characters to use a recover task or to simply move carefully near the doorways and bulkheads to gain 1CD of cover (can be improved with recover). Allow any single recover task to improve the cover of all other characters in the scene. (this is a ‘cute’ idea and should be affirmed, but I wouldn’t suggest it as it consumes intervals. Remember, characters recover all stress between scenes.
BASIC CHALLENGE: Sprinting down the hallway is Difficulty 2 (rocking deck plating and showering sparks). Only call for one task, to be led by the security chief. Offer: Success at cost: the security chief is injured (avoidable). Momentum spends for information (shouting into combadges for situation reports) or additional distance, per combat rules.
As the captain gains an understanding of the state of the ship and the circumstances of the attack, CONSIDER the Captain’s Values and propose a complication fitting with what she believes to be urgent in the moment (if the captain’s player has not already).
If there is urgent damage control to be done (like the warp core, or another system the captain ‘makes’ urgent), then SPLICE the scene to cut away to the crewmember the captain taps to respond (likely the engineering team from the prior scene). The captain can continue to assist and advise over comlink, following the first responders. The captain or security team may arrive after one task at the damage control location. (See Scene 3: damage control)
- Spend 1 threat for a minor NPC crewmember of family member to be frightened or pinned by debris. The Security team may be compelled to stop and help, or to proceed with the captain. (Security crew may have suitable values for complicating here). Even if the PCs don’t act, The NPC is Not going to die. Removing the pinning object, or helping the character come to their senses, is a Difficulty 2 Task (Fitness+Security, Presence+Command, or Insight+Medicine). If the character is a child or otherwise especially helpless, you should spend 2 Threat to introduce them to the scene
- Spend 5 threat to rupture an EPS pipeline in the team’s path, requiring a Difficulty 2 DARING+SECURITY task from one character to quickly avert the team’s progress.
- Offer Success at Cost: one character in the scene of the task leader’s choice takes 4CD (Vicious 1, Intense) plasma damage. (2 assists are possible; inflict 2CD (Vicious 1, Intense) as complication).
- True failure (@cost delclined) at the task inflicts a ‘plasma burns’ complication on all characters in the team, and 3CD Vicious 1, Intense on all team members. (a failure with complication presents an opportunity to separate one character on the far side of the plasma flare)
- Spend 3 threat for the Turbolift to be off-line, requiring a Jeffries tube detour, requiring a brief Difficulty 2, Magnitude 2, Work 12 extended task to navigate the Jeffries Tubes to reach the Captain’s destination.
Likely next scene is in main engineering, sickbay. If time/pacing is a concern cut to Scene 5: BRIEFING ROOM. After this scene, you will begin to find occations where “How did this happen” sidebars will find their way into scenes. (Be sure to consult Sidebar: “What just happened?”)
Scene 3.1: Damage Control
In this scene, main engineering is aflame. There are many wounded. Chaos regins, and the EPS grid is losing power. Some Breaches may require urgent attention (engines, sensors).
ANTICIPATED: BETWEEN 0 AND 4 THREAT. SKIP THIS SCENE IF THE ENERGY CREATURE FAILED TO CAUSE SEVERE DAMAGE TO THE SHIP.
- (C.Eng or Ops)
- (Captain or XO, Security Chief from scene 2)
- (any characters from the opening scene in the shutttlebay).
- This may allow the Ops or CO/XO’s MC’s player to control two characters in the Scene; this is okay. In fact, the assist dice from SCs may prove important, and if Players want to activate an SC as an assistant and second character to play in the scene, it is appropriate. Ask the players which is the primary character and which is the secondary (difficulty zero tasks only) after describing the scene opening and traits in play.
Two notable NPC engineers, Lt. Saparagus and Crewman Samson, are here, but are non-lethally injured. A *Treatment* task can revive them
TRAITS IN PLAY:
- “Air of Chaos 2” (situation). This represents the blindsided engineering crew, bereft of their leader, in a state of rout. Lone crewmen hold the line at consoles and dashing in an out of Jeffries Tubes to put out literal and figurative fires. This trait increases the complication range for almost all tasks in the scene, and the difficulty of engineering tasks (including damage control) by 1 for each level of trait. See “QUELLING THE CHAOS” below.
- As a character moves toward attempting an engineering task without confronting this trait, be very clear that the difficulty will be increased. Blood is caked with broken glass onto the LCARS panel they look to operate. A panicked Crewman runs about, senselessly blasting a fire extinguisher at flares. Remember that most Damage Control tasks require a team to undertake (baked into the “Engineering Department”advantage the Chief Engineer carries with him.
- “Triage 3” there are *many* casualties throughout main engineering. A number of minor NPC engineers (preferring those introduced and named in prior episodes) equal to “Triage’s” value will be found in a state of lethal injury…they will be discovered at inconvenient times and In inconvenient places. This trait is reduced by medical action. It doesn’t affect difficulty by itself (but see below). You don’t need to disclose this trait overtly until the first first aid or treatment task attempted by a PC. As an added effect to whatever original intent for their successful task, also explain that the “Triage” trait has been reduced by 1. When inconvenient, lethally injured NPCs are discovered, disclose this trait and reduce its value by 1 (or don’t, if your table prefers to maximize in-character role-playing).
- “It’s hot in here.” The fires and plasma venting have overwhelmed the environmental controls. Characters take 5 stress from the heat every 10 minutes unless their species is from a hot planet. Reduction of the “air of Chaos” trait will reduce this damage by 1 for each reduction (to a minimum of 3). (Don’t announce this when Air of chaos is reduced-just have a team member or NPC hand PCs a water bottle or cold towel as they’re about to take damage)
- Power Drain: Spend threat at any time to reduce power by 2 for each threat spent. (This is in addition to any ongoing power loss from breaches that have not undergone damage control.) This is partially due to the fractured EPS grid, and first order hypotheses (like from Obtain Information spends). When power reaches 0, add a complication (darkness 2) to the scene. Allow the characters to feel scared and sad about the dangerous circumstances. Remind–as necessary–the possibility of using opportunity spends to acquire flashlights. The truth of the power Drain’s magnitude is related to the creature–see the “Discovery: out of phase” sidebar.
Open the scene
- Create Problem (2 Threat) on any task to quell the chaos, as an insubordinate or routed crewmember rambles to themselves during the speech.
- Create Problem (2 Threat) on Damage Control tasks. This place is a mess. The debris and fires actively confound an task.
- Describe Complications as NPC crew succumbing to heat exhaustion. Alternately, inflict 2 stress on a character for rolled complications.
- Offer success at cost (non-lethally injured, avoidable) on Damage Control tasks.
- Create a complication: (location complication) “Replicators offline.”. The ability for cold drinks to stave off exhaustion and recover stress (when the replicators are working) allows recover tasks (allowed at GM discretion) to recover an additional 1 stress with each momentum spent beyond normal.
Scene 3b: Sickbay
Estimated: between 4 and 6 Threat (The circumstances of this scene will differ based on if the Energy Creature severely damaged the ship. This presentation prefers the damage scenario–see “If things aren’t so bad…” for how to revise this scene)
Any character (s) nonlethally injured in Scenes 1-3 awaken amid the chaos.
- This can include characters awakening from a reversal of scene 1,2, or 3.
- “You should get that looked at” Any characters that avoided-by-complication in earlier scenes, now arriving to sickbay, behold the dire scene. As “walking wounded” they will be passed over entirely for Triage, but they may be able to assist the Medical Staff or improve conditions in Sickbay.
- (option) an SC chief aide to the CMO. This doubles down on creating an “ER” aesthetic feel to the scene, and may notably increase the time this scene takes. If a player proposes bringing in a head nurse type SC, this proposal is welcome, but be aware of pacing.
- (option) Any player can activate a ‘lower decks’ style SC from among the wounded. They begin the scene in a state of lethal injury, and are on the edge of consciousness. These characters will not cost Crew Support
- (option) Any characters from previous scenes–regardless of role–can be ‘pitching in.’ As you frame the scene, stress that the triage situation is In Medias Res and everyone is off in different corners, taking vitals, changing IV bags, succoring the wounded with sips of water, etc.
(reminder) Activate the EMH as an NPC– if a Player doesn’t. (if available, and it’s not going to crash the mood with comedic relief). As an NPC, his presence will provide assists to many of the high difficulty tasks for the medical staff. Unless very explicitly delegated to his own duties out of frame, he will insinuate himself into every medical task the players attempt, lending an assist die for medical tasks even on the second assist, where he will increase the complication range.
- If playing in a pre-EMH era, create a suitably plucky or good-looking minor NPC medical crewmember who will behave similarly (if less abrasively).
This scene makes abundant use of the IRL Medical concept of Triage. The players should have some understanding of this principle before the scene begins. A VERY SHORT TLDR is “you put out the biggest fires first, and some of the little ones you may have to let burn.” It is unlikely that a player would choose to be the CMO would be unfamiliar with this concept to some degree; in any case, here is a Wikipedia link omitted because I guess Wikipedia is reported as ‘abusive’
Likewise, keeping this scene ‘in the fiction’ and not an mere exercise of sliding tokens and dice around will require you to be able to present believable descriptions of severe injuries and medical crises. Watch some YouTube channels about Emergency Medicine to prepare you as a GM. ChubbyEmu is a favorite of mine. Your fallback for imagining these things is “Oxygen is Life.” If the lungs aren’t working, if too much blood volume is lost, or if red cells aren’t there to carry Oxygen, people die.
IF YOU OR A PLAYER IS SQUEAMISH or has past trauma associated with gore, DIAL BACK or ABRIDGE THIS SCENE to suit your group. Consider using something like the X card or Luxton technique if you feel it will make play more satisfactory. YOU KNOW YOUR GROUP BETTER THAN I DO.
TRAITS IN PLAY:
- This trait increases the complication range of all medical tasks by 1
- While present, this trait adds 1 resistance to the Triage extended task, below.
BEGIN THE SCENE
“Plasma out of phase…Plasma in phase…double the volume–shock the lines…”
Group Challenge: Triage
- Remember to increase the difficulty by 1 for the ‘Overwhelmed’ Trait
- Complication range is +1 from ‘EPS Mains offline’
- Complications, Create Problem, and Resistance from “Unforseen Problem” Complications will preoccupy the later attempts. “unforseen problem” can be a lack of stem cell cultures, a shortage of plasma or RBC, or simply the absence of an orderly or a nurse where one is needed
- The Triage talent will trigger “triumphant”
- Frontier Medicine talent will allow 2 points of resistance from lack of technologies to be ignored.
Case 1: Compound fracture of the leg threatening compartment syndrome. Head Trauma req. cortical stablization and a frantic series of hyposprays.
- possible problem: patient has a genetic clotting factor threatening stroke. (+1 Difficulty on this attempt)
- Success at cost: open the leg with a laser scalpel. The gore is unusually unsettling, and covers the CMO’s surgical apron. This is mostly ‘grossout,’ The CMO is bereft of one assistant. for the remainder of the scene–the assistant finds somewhere less bloody to lend a hand.
Case 2: Sp02 crashing from burnt lungs. Fifth degree burns and shrapnel in burns, exacerbating fluid losses.
- Possible Problem: Normally, the transporter would make quick work of the shrapnel, but the power outage means this has to be done ‘the old fashioned way.’
- Complication: Patients like this require sterile technique. Apply “Unforseen Problem,” +2 resistance to the task.
- Success at cost: “This one is Too far Gone.” Apply 5 nonlethal mental Stress to the CMO. This will inflict an injury, which, when avoided becomes “Feet Sore…Sweat in Eyes” as a complication that will add difficulty to all later attempts.
Case 3 is carried in on a stretcher. Spinal injury from evasive maneuvering and internal bleeding. (the native difficulty will be low by this time)
- Possible Problem: Patient is beamed in, unannounced. Owing to their flagging life signs, their pattern was weak…and a peice of volatile debris materializes with them, threatening to ignite something dangerous, or kill them outright.
- Complication: “Stabilization Fields unavailable.” normally, force-fields will immobilize a patient with an SCI. Any movement of the patient will exacerbate the injury, possibly leading to permanent paralysis. Apply unforseen problem, +2 resistance
- Success at cost: “no time for this” The patient isn’t really red-tagged after all. He may have a long term Brain Injury, but can anything be done about that RIGHT NOW? (the CMO takes a “doing no harm?” complication that will escalate medical tasks. this complication will last the episode unless a ‘heart to heart’ counseling task removes it.
Case 4 is Ensign Harris. He came in too hot from his burns (skin can’t adequately cool him down anymore), and as he goes into shock from the pain of the burns, his suppressed breathing leads to his Sp02 crashing precipitously. He needs transfusion and cooling.
- Complication: “death of a thousand cuts” the CMO takes 2d (vicious 2) mental stress. (allow stoic species Resist 1 or 2)
- Success at cost: Place Ensign Harris in an induced coma using drugs normally used with a statis field. “what Ensign Harris Knows” will come later and isn’t available for the “How did this happen” Sidebar.”
“EPS System was nominal, until it wasn’t. Saw a little spike on my tricorder in the theta band, and then the pressure in the lines shocked. It’s as if there was suddenly More plasma in the tubes than there was a microsecond before. Then they exploded.”
This is Federation Starship Nelson, to the *PLAYERSHIP*. We are monitoring your position and are en route to assist. We estimate 2 Hours at Warp 9 to your present location.
Discovery: Did our Vigilance Lapse?
This Sidebar is not a tell-all. It is a tool for arriving at the baseline for Act II, in which the ship will be preoccupied with investigating the attack. This sidebar is here to allow the discovery process-including doubts-to unfold as naturally as your group prefers while minimizing railroading and allowing the information to be recieved in-character.
if PCs are especially suspicious if this is really what happened
- (that an energy creature–not Romulans, Ferengi, Borg, etc. attacked),
- then allow any ‘doubting Thomas’ a task to analyze of the data (difficulty 2 Reason+Science) which will grant an advantage “Verified Truth: an energy Creature Attacked”
- (basic success, available at cost) Is it alive? Yes
- How many are there? It is one mind–not many.
- What does it want? to satisfy some urgent instinct.
- What kind of instinct? a reproductive instinct–to mate, to nest, to spawn, to brood, to sing a birdcall, to joust other males–it is impossible to tell more…
one of the creature’s motive (some beginnings can be discovered with Empathy, see WHO, above)
- Why us? Why did the creature single out the player’s ship, given that it’s a formidable starfleet vessel? Does the creature not know better?
How did the creature cloak itself so closely? Why didn’t the Shuttle’s sensors, if not the ship’s, detect its presence? Was the creature somehow attached to the shuttlecraft?
- If so–Where did the shuttle go, what did it do, and why did the creature trail the shuttle?