STO: The Geeky Character Building Epic for the Clinically Insane

Dj1-picardvsrikerI have played a great many RPG games and MMORPGs. I have built thousands of characters across nearly every game console and PC platform ever made. Yeah, I am kind of old, I guess ;) Star Trek Online has one of the most complex character building systems out there.

Now some of you may have played a game with even more complexities to the toon, but not many games offer the level of tweaking that Star Trek does. This allows a user to create a character that is truly unique in abilities despite the large sea of players in the game. This deep level of building can drive you to the brink of insanity as you try to maximize the character’s abilities.

Cryptic recently changed the character traits. Essentially it is a nerf, but it offers up the ability to change them on the fly once the character has unlocked them. I am not sure that traits should be interchangeable but it does offer a dynamic for mission specific tweaks to your character. You may have traits active for PVP that you don’t need for PVE or storyline missions. Now you can swap them at will. They are nerfed in the sense that you can’t have as many traits active simultaneously as you could prior to the launch of Season 9. The old system however required a trait respec to change (costing zen), that is no longer the case. One interesting fact is that various race specific traits still appear automatically in the first three slots but they can be swapped out. So now you can play any race you want and if you don’t like the race bonus you can swap out the traits.

This isn’t the first time I have touched on character building in STO. But I have really come to appreciate the complex nature of character building. Look at the classic RPG, the one that started it all, Dungeons and Dragons. That game starts a character with six basic abilities and allows the player to allocate points (or in the classic versions you “roll” the character which randomizes the results). Then as the character grows he gains feats that are essentially perks or bonus abilities. Some feats have prerequisites that make it important to plan your character in advance. But the total number of variables in a D&D character is not as vast as it is in STO.

Your character has two sets of skill points. Space and Ground. There are 35 space skills and 10 ground skills that can receive up to 9 points each with diminshing returns in thirds. That is the first three points give +18 each (54), the second three give +10 each (30) and the final three only +5 each (15) for each category. There is a total of +99 possible per skill set, but you are already at 84 with only six of the nine points taken. Then there are the traits which are like feats in D&D. STO has fewer traits than D&D has feats but the skills in STO with 45 sets are off the chart!

What really sets STO apart is the space side of the character. 35 skill sets with 9 ranks in each, 27 possible traits of which as many as 16 can be active at once if the character has earned them. Then there are dozens of ships each configured differently with console slot arrangements and  bridge office arrangements. Up to 5 duty officers can be on space duty and they offer tweaks to the abilities of the captain. (you can also have five DOFFs on ground duty) Of course all the weapons and device slots, shields, etc add to the mix as well but that is true of most RPGs where a character can equip items.

I admire those people who really know how to maximize the system and create amazing characters. That said I think many people play STO and don’t realize all of the things they can do to improve their Captain’s abilities with Bridge officers, Duty officers and traits. If you haven’t played around with all of these you could be missing out on that extra edge. You might not get killed as often either!

I have not yet mastered the character building in STO but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. First, don’t overlook duty officers. Peruse your roster of duty officers and see the traits they have. You will see things like, “Damage Control Engineer”, with a chance to reduce recharge time on any emergency power abilities. Depending on the “color” or rarity of the DOFF that could be as much as a 35% chance of reducing that cooldown by 30%. That may not seem like a big deal but you get to put up to five DOFFs on active duty. I can’t tell you how many times my ship was blasted to bits when my shields were down and there was just six seconds left on the recharge clock for “emergency power to the shields”.

Many Bridge Officers also have passive bonuses when they are actively on a console. Romulan BOFFs offer a 5% boost to stealth. An all Romulan crew could make your ship nearly undetectable. Read the details about each bridge officer. Seek out BOFFs that will complement your play style with their passive abilities.

There are some prerequisites to some of the skills as well. You may not be able to take a higher level skill unless you have 6 ranks of a related lower skill. Pay attention to that. You can look at the skills by hovering over them or clicking them. I find that most of the skills need only be taken to six ranks. +84 is pretty good and taking a +5 on the seventh rank of one skill when that point could be a +18 elsewhere is rarely sound judgement. Once your toon reaches level 50 it might be a good idea to respec his skills. You will likely earn this opportunity during the game and you can purchase it as well from the C-store. Respecing will allow you to correct the mistakes you may have made earlier in the game or just completely change the dynamic of the character.

Running DOFF missions will build up ranks in the DOFF system and many of these offer additional perks that strengthen your character. Admiral Sager is my first character and he is by far my most “skilled” toon. As a result I rarely die with him in command. Other characters that I have that are less advanced in skills, traits, etc. have a much tougher go of it. Especially when running elite missions.

AkirdaboSpend a little time building your character and don’t leave anything on the table. A few tweaks here and there could turn your toon into a badass!

I am still trying to find a winner so follow me on twitter @rodsager and wait for the tweet announcing that Akir is playing Dabo. Approach Akir and win a prize. Akir is the Ferengi at the Dabo table in the picture to the right.


Flying as a Ferengi

Ferengi I mentioned last week, (Risian Luxury Test Drive) that I wanted to start a Ferengi toon to play so I can fly that Luxury Cruiser. What a great profit opportunity.  The Ninth Rule of Acquisition says, “Opportunity plus instinct equals PROFIT”! STO is a role-playing game and what better role to play for an American, than the galaxy’s ultimate capitalist entrepreneurs, the Ferengi ;)

So I started him up. Character number nine; Ferengi Lt. Commander Akir an engineer that likes to engineer some profit along the way as he defends the federation in a Starfleet ship named, “Pride of Profit”.

prideofprofitWhen Akir reaches level 40 he will be able to fly the Risian Luxury Cruiser I already have stashed in his inventory.  Ultimately I would like to get Akir the D’Kora but those sell for over 100 million EC and I have never been able to scrounge up more than 20-30 million :(

I really feel like I need to play this character like a Ferengi. Maybe making some decisions that are not necessarily the best for to final outcome but that mirror a Ferengi in the canon of Trek. Of course this Ferengi is a Starfleet officer and as such had to choose to abandon some of the ways of Ferenginar or he would have never earned a commission. Sounds like I need a back story!

Akir was born on Ferenginar in 2359 and by 2379 had already amassed an impressive amount of wealth, even by Ferengi standards. He spent a great deal of time in his school years learning about the Klingons, the Federation and the Romulans. This knowledge has served him well in his profiteering over the years.

Akir had several encounters with Starfleet each offering a glimpse into the Federation social structure and idealism. His first encounter came in 2381 with Captain William Riker of the USS Titan. Riker discovered a questionable mining operation near the Romulan Neutral Zone and out of Ferengi space, while on a peace seeking mission with the Romulans. Ferengi Captain, Akir was in command of the operations claiming of course that it was fully legitimate. Riker is well-known among Ferengi and his reputation was one that most Ferengi would respect. Akir made a positive impression with Riker despite his capitalistic style, Akir seemed unlike many other Ferengi Riker had encountered. Akir also had extensive knowledge of federation regulations and was able to demonstrate to Riker that neither he nor the Romulans had any recourse to his operation. Riker noted in his log that Akir’s mining operation was unusually “clean” for a Ferengi. In his personal log he noted, “I have never encountered an environmentally conscious Ferengi before”.  In 2397 then Captain Sager, was in command of a shuttle craft on a mission for the USS Columbia River to the Briar Patch. The USS Loch Carron was a Delta class shuttle and Akir ended up in an aggressive situation whilst attempting to hide another of his mining operations. Although his mining was again, “clean” his claim in the area was not. Akir attempted to disable the shuttle craft with light weapons fire from his private ship. The Loch Carron was not so much as “scratched” and returned fire on Akir. Much to his surprise, the shuttle proved to be a formidable opponent and succeeded in disabling him instead. Akir was very impressed with Captain Sager’s prowess in the shuttle. The future Admiral Sager was able to work out a very fair arrangement for Akir that allowed him to exit the area somewhat profitably. This was not Akir’s last encounter with Admiral Sager. He ran into him again in 2407 at DS-9. This appears to be a pivotal point in Akir’s career.

Leading up to Akir’s second encounter with the admiral was an introduction to Nog on the USS Enterprise E when Akir sent a distress call needing aid against an Orion Marauding party on his legit mining operation in the Sirius Sector. Akir was holding his own but needed help to push the Orion’s back. akir was impressed with Nog and his “acceptance” into the Federation.

The admiral was enjoying a drink at Quark’s when Akir approached him. They hung out for a while and it is unknown to anyone other than them what was discussed. They are both tight-lipped, but Akir went to Starfleet Academy less than six months later and became a Starfleet officer. Akir claims to be a supporter of Rom’s progressive agenda for Ferengi but still practices a bit of the classic male chauvinism of “old” Ferengi. He does avoid outright discrimination as that would never fly in Starfleet, but the females on his crew are dressed in uniforms similar to the women in the Mirror Universe. He claims the uniforms are “efficient and profitable”. And so Akir flies through the galaxy on missions supporting the Federation and along the way seizing any “legitimate” opportunity for profit. For some strange reason, Starfleet never seems to push Akir beyond a hand slap for his sometimes over-zealous profiteering. Many people wonder what debt Vice Admiral Sager feels toward Akir that gets him out of the occasional jam with the federation brass.

How’s that for a back story?

I am going to have some fun with this one :D Now I need to go kill some Devidians with my new proton Devidian killer.

AkirdaboBy the way I met a Ferengi named Elchim in last week’s in game live mission. Elchim brought a Mai Tai to Rodanna and got a sick pair of Risian shades. So this week meet up with my new Ferengi. Look for a tweet @rodsager announcing Akir’s arrival at a Dabo table somewhere in the game. Remember to take note of which instance he is in. Then be the first to  connect with him for a great prize, hint he will want you to drop a party amplifier to liven things up.  It all starts tomorrow so follow the @rodsager twitter feed for the next opportunity to hang with a rich Ferengi.

Risian Luxury Cruiser Test Drive

risianlux2The Risian Luxury Cruiser is now in the ship inventory of several of my characters. The new event reputation system allows you to grind away with one character to get the prize ship and then all your other toons need only complete a simple task to get the ship. Three cheers for this new rule; hip, hip, hooray; hip, hip, hooray; hip, hip, hooray!

luxurycruiserstatsSo this new vessel is a bit corny but I like it. It is a big ship with 1500 crew and 41,400 hull but turns on the proverbial dime with a base rate of 10 degrees per second. That’s one more than the Avenger and almost as fast as a Klingon Kamarag Battle Cruiser! The ship even sports some big shields with a 1.1 modifier.

I really want to start a Ferengi captain and punch him up to level 40 in time to get this ship! This ship just screams, “PROFIT”.

It actually is a decent performer. It is heavy on engineering with five consoles dedicated to Mr. Scott’s profession. But this ship features a Lt. Commander at Tactical and that is pretty cool. This ship can load heavy and pack a punch if you want it to.

The special console on this ship has a delayed radiation attack that bypasses shields with 1/2 its damage and offers an escape speed and turn rate boost after leaving its enemies disabled and then slowed if not dead! It also works in conjunction with the “Sub Space Wake Generator” from last year’s Corvette. I reviewed that ship in a post here. The set bonus gives a passive ability “exotic particle generators” that appears to boost exotic damage. The ” Solar Sail Quantum Slipstream works like the slipstream on the Odyssey and doubles the slipstream time as well as providing a slight boost in speed over that standard slipstream.

admiralluxoThis ship features the Risian color palette which offers much brighter colors for the ship. It also has additional patterns that take advantage of the bright colors available. So if you haven’t started working on this you might be screwed! You need 25 days to get enough pearls to pull it off. These ships are cool and I always take advantage of the special freebie ships because frankly, they are usually pretty good ships and they are FREE!

I am going to try something new. Periodically I will have an in game mission for readers to do. This is not a foundry mission but a live mission on a specific day. The first of these missions is Friday July 4th 2014. At a random time during the day. Your contact, Vice Admiral Rodanna will be on Risa for the “Summer Event” (Instance #2). She will be wearing a yellow bikini and will be in one of the six lounge chairs at the end of the estuary in front of the dance floor at the main resort.

rodannaWhen you spot her, bring her a Risian Mai Taichairs. You can find them on the exchange for around 40k credits or buy one from a Risian Vendor for 5 Lohlunat Favors. The prize for completion will be  worth quite a bit more than the Mai Tai. The first person to make the approach gets the prize. It is a random event so check in at Risa (#2) Summer Resort when you play and check the lounge chairs for a hottie alien in yellow bikini. Once she starts sunbathing she will stay for a fair amount of time so everyone has a shot at it! Follow my twitter feed @rodsager for an announcement that “Admiral Rodanna is heading to Risa”, just before she kicks it on the beach.

Oh by the way 44% of readers like both Counter Command Sets and here is another poll. What do you think of this Risian Luxury Cruiser?