Starfleet General Orders

These are the general "house rules" I used when running my Star Trek games. A lot of the elements are based on content from the Second Edition of Space Master: The Role Playing Game (published by Iron Crown Enterprises in 1988) and so some of the options listed here might reference tables or charts from that game. As such in order to effectively make use of those elements a copy of Space Master is a must; or alternatively a copy of Cyberspace, which was also published by ICE and consists of a streamlined ruleset based on Space Master.

A Roll of the Dice

One of the reasons I was able to make use of the Space Master / Cyberspace rules with the Star Trek RPG rules is the fact that both are percentage-based systems, with Attributes and Skills on a 1-100 scale and using d100 rolls as the primary mechanic. So the first major optional rule for Star Trek is the concept of the open-ended roll. With an open-ended roll system when a d100 roll is made, typically an Attribute Save or a Skill Check, there is a chance for the roll to have a result less than 1 or greater than 100. From the Cyberspace rules (p. 9):

I always like open-ended or "exploding" roll systems because they can add a chance for even the easiest checks to be failed (sometimes spectacularly) or even the most impossibly difficult result to be within the realm of possibility.

Let's Get Critical

Another aspect of the Space Master / Cyberspace rules that I always liked was the Critical and Fumble charts, which offered entertainingly descriptive effects of very good (or very bad) attack rolls. Attacks in the ICE rulesets are resolved by referencing the attack roll against a chart, which would tell how much damage was done and what (if any) critical effect might be a result, or if a fumble was a result due a bad roll. Criticals were ranked in levels from A to E. Rather than use a chart, for Star Trek I opted to determine if an attack results in a Critical or not was to compare the Skill Check results compared to the target number. The greater the amount the roll exceeded the target by the better the potential critical result.

Critical Attacks

Roll Made ByCritical Result
1-10graze (minimum damage, 1 point of damage per D10 damage)
11-25no critical
26-40A critical
41-55B critical
56-70C critical; maximum for skill < 10
71-85D critical; maximum for skill < 20
86-110E critical; maximum for skill < 40
111-140E critical, A secondary; maximum for skill < 60
141-175E critical, B secondary; maximum for skill < 80
176+E critical, C secondary; maximum result

With a Critical Level (A through E) known, assuming the result does warrant a Critical, the GM would then roll on the applicable Critical type table from Space Master / Cyberspace. The specific table used depends on the type of damage the attack deals; Critical Tables in the ICE rules include ones for Puncture, Slash, Impact, Heat, Electricity, and Shrapnel damage. Space Master Critical Tables (SM Tech Book p.80-94) have a separate descriptive columm for each severity (A to E) while Cyberspace tables (p. 199-201) had a single descriptive column but higher severity criticals would have the GM add an amount to the roll when determining which entry to use, with higher results being more devastating.

Similarly, an open-ended down attack roll (where the initial roll was under 6) that after all Skill Rankings and Modifiers still has a final result less than zero was considered a fumble, so the GM would roll on the appropriate Space Master / Cyberspace Fumble table (SM Tech Book p. 95-96 / Cyberspace p. 202).

Skill Use

With the open-ended roll rules described above Skill checks also have a chance for more than just a simple success or failure. The Space Master / Cyberspace rules had charts for what they referred to as Maneuvers, which were the equivalent of a Skill check. There were two charts, the general Personal Maneuver Chart (SM Player Book p. 79, Cyberspace p. 44) and the Alternate Personal Maneuver Chart (SM Player Book p. 80), called the Static Maneuver Chart in Cyberspace (p. 43). The Personal Maneuver Chart is intended for physical activities like running, jumping, climbing, etc.

To use the Personal Maneuver Chart with the Star Trek RPG the end result of the open-ended roll for the Skill Check is cross-referenced with the column representing the difficulty of the action; most entries in the table were a number, representing the percentage of the action that was completed. Some results were even over 100, indicating that the physical action resulted in greater than 100% success; this is generally interpreted as meaning the character succeeded with time and effort to spare, which in a combat situation could result in the character not spending as many Action Points to perform the action. Entries in the table for particularly high or low rolls included more descriptive consequences which would sometimes introduce additional bonuses or penalties, or just humorous results.

The Static Maneuver Chart was useful for other kinds of Skill Checks. That table had columns for different "maneuver types", including some very useful ones for a Star Trek game like Using Healing Equipment, Perception and Sensor/Scanning, and Influence and Interaction as well as a generic General column that could be applied to just about any Skill Check type. In the case of this chart the difficulty of the Check was applied as a modifier to the end result of the open-ended roll. The final total of the roll including the Skill Ranking and any modifiers (including difficulty) was cross-referenced with the appropriate column to find the result of the Skill Check. The corresponding table entry would indicate not just success or failure, but the degree of success or failure with suitably descriptive text.

In addition to the two maneuver charts above, these rule as well as the optional Starship Combat rules also make use of the Vehicle Maneuver Chart (SM Player Book p. 84-85 only, the Cyberspace rules use the General column of the Personal Maneuver Chart for vehicle maneuvers).

There were several other charts from Space Master / Cyberspace that I made use of in my campaigns for certain other types of Skill Use. These are described below.

Construction and Research

One of the more useful items from Space Master / Cyberspace was the Construction / Research Chart (SM Tech Book p. 61 / Cyberspace p. 47). Any efforts by a Chief Engineer to build something new, or a Science Officer to research some strange new phenomenon would refer to the Construction / Research Chart. As with the maneuver chart there were separate columns for the difficulty level of the task at hand and the end result of the open-ended roll would be cross-checked against it. The results are interpreted as follows:

If the character is aided by other skilled people, add +5 to the roll for each helper; the GM may put an upper limit on the number of people who can help.

Construction/Research Difficulty Levels

The following descriptions should be used when attempting to assign a difficulty to a Construction or Research task. For a good idea of the time involved, look at the chart itself - especially in the range of 01 to 95 (where most rolls will end up).


Repairs are performed using the Malfunction / Repair Chart (SM Tech Book p. 62 / Cyberspace p. 48). The result indicates how long the repair maneuver took to complete, and may indicate a "CIP" - Cost In Parts. This is a percentage of the base cost of the original unit, but for Star Trek it represents the parts that need to be used; replicators notwithstanding a starship usually has a finite amount of spare parts available in storage, and some tricky repairs might require a very specific kind of part (the GM could even turn the search for a rare part to complete a critical repair into an adventure all to itself). The chart assumes a team (of at least two people) are working on the repair. If only one character is involved, double the time amounts shown on the chart. If there are more than two skilled people working on the repair project, add +5 to the roll on the Malfunction / Repair Chart for each additional helper. Of course the GM will often want to limit the number of people working on a given project at once.

Sensor Use

These sensor rules are based on the ones from the Star Trek RPG. The primary difference here is that any actual Skill Checks would use the open-ended roll system and the Perception and Sensor/Scanning from the Static Maneuver Chart, both described previously.

In non-critical situations, where time is not a factor, a minimum skill rating of 10 in Starship Sensors is sufficient. Higher ratings will yield more information, but no actual skill roll is necessary. Sensors may be used to determine the following types of information:

  1. Presence, location, and general type of unusual energy sources in space or on a planet surface.
  2. Material composition of an object, if the materials are familiar. The status of the object (solid, liquid, gaseous, plasma, fluctuating, etc.) will be known as well. Materials not known to Federation science should be noted as just 'unknown', though their status should be given.
  3. Size, speed, and vector of any object. If the object known to the Federation, its type, nationality, and description should be available if requested.
  4. Presence and number of life forms, and the general type if familiar to the Federation. A shielded ship cannot be scanned for life form number or type, though the presence of life can be detected through shields.

In critical situations, or where time is an important factor, Skill Rolls are a good way to determine how much information is learned. The skill rating in Starship Sensors should be averaged with an appropriate Science or Technology skill. Success will give additional information in a short time, though it is possible to determine much of the same information without the roll if enough time is spent. This is where the Static Maneuver Chart can come in handy. Examples of such additional information is given below:

  1. Exact strength and nature of an energy source already detected. Multiple skill rolls may be required for any detailed information, and the Starship Sensors skill should be averaged with Astronautics or possibly Warp Drive Technology or Physics (with penalties)
  2. The general use of such energy, with skill rolls as above.
  3. Presence of standard deflector screening. Skill rolls would be on Starship Sensors averaged with Deflector Shield Technology.
  4. Presence of any standard weapon systems and their armed status. The roll would be made against Starship Sensors averaged with Starship Weaponry Technology.
  5. Basic information about a previously detected unknown substance, with a roll made against the rating in Starship Sensors averaged with Chemistry.
  6. Basic information about a previously detected unknown life form. the roll would be made with Starship Sensors averaged with Exobiology.
  7. Basic information about an unknown culture. For environmental information, Starship Sensors would be averaged with Ecology and Exobiology. For more specific information, the skill would be averaged with an appropriate Social Science.
  8. Unusual use of sensors. For example, sensor lock for transport without communicator aid (modified for the number of life forms present), or to scan beyond normal sensor range.

Transporter Use

No roll is necessary for routine ship-to-planet or ship-to-ship use for characters with a minimum rating of 10 in Transporter Operation Procedures. For other situations, a skill roll is necessary. On a successful roll, all is well. On a failed roll, the transport did not occur. A second roll may be attempted, but if this roll fails then a transporter accident has occurred. The GM can alternatively make use of the General column of the Static Maneuver Chart to determine the result of the check.


Beaming Type Abbreviations

S->P, P->SUnstable atmospheric conditions–20
S->P, P->SLocal interference–20
S->P, P->STransporter at each end+40
P->S, S->SLock in with sensors only–15
S->STransporter at only one end+10
In-S (TOS)Any beaming within same ship–40
AnyLocation used in past 24 hours20
AnyShip's power reserve less than half–25

Personnel in Emergency or Cargo Transporters: if cargo or emergency transporters are used for personnel, Skill Rolls are required in even normal situations. For cargo transporters, all modifiers are doubled.

Objects Held in Transit: For each 5 minutes an object is held, the transporter operator must make a skill roll. If the roll fails, the lock is lost unless a successful LUC roll is made by the operator. A second, immediate attempt may be made to regain the lock with a modifier of -40. If it, too, fails the objects or personnel being transported are lost forever.

Skill Advancement

These rules are used in place of the Increasing Skill Ratings Through Play rules on p. 26 of the Game Operations Manual. Under these rules Skill Ratings increase more quickly at lower Ratings but more slowly the higher the Rating.

Skill Checkmarks

As a skill is used it accumulates checkmarks either from successful use of the skill or through other means. When enough checkmarks are accumulated a skill rolled may be made.

Skill Rating# Checkmarks Required

Gaining Skill Checkmarks

Skill Use - for each successful use of a skill a checkmark is gained for that skill. If the roll was open-ended up then an extra checkmark is gained.

Minimums - if the total number of checkmarks gained in a single session is less than INT / 10 (round down) then a number of bonus checkmarks are gained so that the total number of checkmarks for the session reaches this minimum. These bonus checkmarks maybe placed on any skill, either one already possessed by the character or towards gaining a new Skill (see below).

Between Sessions - at the end of the game session, an INT roll can be made. If successful, then a bonus checkmark is gained. If the roll was open-ended up then an extra checkmark is gained. These bonus checkmarks represent skill uses that happened "off camera" between game sessions and may be used as above.

Gaining New Skills

To learn a new skill, two bonus checkmarks must be dedicated to it, at which point the new Skill is gained with a Rating of 1D10.

Advancing Skill Ratings

When enough checkmarks on a skill have been accumulated (according to the table above) a Skill Advancement Roll is made to see if the skill rating increases. Roll d100, if the roll is greater than the current Skill Rating than the skill rating increases by an amount determined by the difference between the D100 roll and the current Rating, divided by 10 (round up). If the D100 roll is less than or equal to the current Rating then the Skill does not increase. For example, Ensign Brown has a Skill Rating of 54 in Transporter Operation Procedures and he has accumulated 3 checkmarks by making use of the skill. The player rolls D100 and the result is 67; 67 less 54 is 13, divided by 10 is 1.3, rounded up becomes 2 so Ensign Brown's Transporter Operation Procedures Skill Rating goes up 2 to 56. If the D100 roll had been 47 then the Skill Rating would not have increased. Whether the Skill Rating changes or not, the checkmarks needed for the advancement roll are used up in the attempt.

Multiple Skill Advancement Rolls - if enough checkmarks have been accumulated during a single session to warrant more than one Skill Advancement Roll then the rolls are made consecutively; with each subsequent roll after the first using the new Skill Rating gained (assuming the roll increased the skill) from the roll granted by the previous use of checkmarks.

Skills Over 100 – for Skill Ratings equal to or greater than 100, a Skill Advancement Roll is made by rolling D100 as above. If the roll is 100 then roll a D10, open-ended up (i.e. if a 10 is rolled then roll again and add the result to the 10; continue until a number other than 10 is rolled). If the open-ended D10 roll is greater than the amount the Skill Rating exceeds 100 by, then the Skill Rating increases by 1.

Advancement Cap - no Skill Rating can increase by more than 10 points during a single session.

Limits - Characters can earn a maximum of INT / 10 checkmarks on any one Skill during a single game session. Checkmarks not used for a Skill Advancement Roll carry forward to the next game session and so on until used.