Kairaku My experience with role playing is similar to my experience with software development...
The Devs build a thing (RPG system/adventure) -> the GM implements an instance (lets play tonight guys) -> The players do all the things out of scope and burn the bastard to the ground (see players).
I am infamous in our group of friends for getting more mileage out of 0 cantrips than out of like a wish spell. Pulls out the book of stupid stuff my characters have done
- Bard has destroyed siege towers with flame throwers buy using mage hand to drop fire into their exposed fuel supply (yay luck rolls in my favor... "are the fuel supplies covered or just inside the tower" "high or low" "high" "yes what are you upto" "KABOOM").
- Party is being chased up the cliff by a waterfall by an army of orcs and such. BBG makes a dramatic entrance, freezing the waterfall solid. Look at my spell list... Shatter Crystalline object... Ice is a crystal... drops half a waterfall made of ice on the army. (I wanted a second shot if I needed it...)
Sorry for the rambling/reminiscing but it was more to show that players will come up with stuff on the fly that neither the devs or the GM will have ever thought of, which is always obvious.
I think the Star Trek thing can always work in some way shape or form, you just may need to riff on it a bit. Ultimately what you are looking at is a couple of skill challenges that you as the GM pick one to work. You can also:
- Just make it a one off roll if you don't need the dramatic tension of a skill challenge. Just let them come up with ideas and pick the one you like best, and let them try things.
- Set different difficulties for different things. Everything works, just some of them are harder than others. One of the few things I still love about d&d is how easy it is to just make assumptions about skills. If only one player is rolling I will be an butt head and just decide how likely it is for them to do a thing and let them roll for it. If multiple players want to do a thing I will generally figure out who is the best at it, and how likely they are to do a thing and set DC off of that (you have a +6 to pick lock, and I want you to succeed 50% of the time, the dc is 17).
- I do think this is better for abstract large scale problems, less so for simple ones. I am really prone to just letting things that seem reasonable work, and things that seem unreasonable work with a good roll.
I think that is enough rambling from me. I shouldn't talk before coffee, my brain is (extra) long winded.