A Fresh Emphasis on Traits

By Jim Johnson, Star Trek Adventures Project Manager
Art by Rodrigo Gonzalez Toledo


One of the design elements I loved from the very beginning of playtesting first edition Star Trek™ Adventures back in 2016 was traits. Traits are versatile tools, representing elements applicable to a character, a location, a starship, a condition, and more. Traits describe something that is true, and in so doing, create a form of reality in a scene and help set parameters for what characters might attempt to accomplish in a scene.

Characters beginning a scene beaming into a narrow corridor with the traits Pitch Black, Unventilated, and Smoke-Filled will likely make different choices than if they begin the scene beaming into the same corridor with the traits Well-Lit, Perfumed Breeze, and Inviting. Effective location traits help set the scene with a word or two, giving players context to help them roleplay their characters.

Nathan Dowdell, 2d20 lead developer, noted in an earlier blog post that traits were created for first edition but weren’t as developed as he would have liked. The second edition was an opportunity for him and the STA development team to review how traits were handled, and develop a refined definition and fresh approach to using traits in the game in a myriad of ways.

You’ll get a sense of the results of his work in the new free quickstart guide, which briefly details traits and provides examples of traits on the included ship sheet for the U.S.S. Challenger and seven pregenerated characters. Ships and player characters begin their game life with a few more traits than they might have in first edition. A player character could have any number of traits, depending on how granular a gamemaster and player want to go—and each trait provides key information about that character, beyond their focuses, values, talents, and other mechanical elements.

As an example, by the end of the pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Kathryn Janeway might possess the following traits: Human, Starfleet Officer, Captain, Commanding Officer, Coffee Addict, Far from Home. Any of these could come into play in later adventures, and could play a part in the success or failure of certain tasks she might attempt.

Starships can have a selection of traits, equipment in the game is largely handled as traits, and Injuries and harm inflicted upon characters can also be represented as traits. A character wearing an Environment Suit might have a Broken Arm or a Concussion, while an old support vessel might be Dependable or Understaffed

With the revised guidance in the new core rulebook, you’ll find players are encouraged to spend Momentum to add, change, or remove traits from scenes after their character succeeds at a task. Gamemasters get to spend Threat to create complications—essentially negative traits—to further challenge the player characters.

What kinds of traits will you create when you play second edition?

Pre-order your copy of the second edition Star Trek Adventures core rulebook now in standard format or one of three limited edition covers!

2nd Edition Core Rulebook:

2nd Edition Core Rulebook (Command):

2nd Edition Core Rulebook (Sciences):

2nd Edition Core Rulebook (Operations):


Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep frequencies open for news about other upcoming Star Trek Adventures product releases. Live long and prosper! 


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