Security Clearances Instead of Ranks

I started this thread to suggest a game change on the STO boards which I’m going to duplicate here:

One of the reasons I play STO is to put myself in the Trek-universe. While I accept a lot of the compromises Cryptic had to make to design a fun Star Trek game, there’s one that’s always bugged me: non-captain ranks. Starting out as an Ensign and getting command of a ship has always seemed quite a stretch regardless of how badly the wars with the Klingons, Borg, and Undine may be going. Of course the game does need to have some form of progression, some Trek-like way to advance. So why not make all players Captains and change the Rank/Grade system to refer Security Clearances instead?

When you start out with a new character, you could go through a promotion ceremony and get assigned your first command: a Miranda-class ship. Then you pick one (or more) bridge officers and start through the normal tutorial events with slight alterations.

In the game proper you would still collect skill points and merits, only instead of increasing in Grade from 1-10 on your way to the next Rank, your Captain would increase their Security Clearance starting at Alpha-1 through 10 and then Beta-1 (which would allow for tier 2 ships), and so on. After all, Starfleet can’t give command of their most advanced ships to just any command officer. Only the most trusted Captains would have access to high-level technology. This would make a VA-1, which is basically level 51, a Captain with Epsilon-1 Security Clearance.

The SC system would be functionally the same as the existing Rank system, but the new terminology allows for quite a bit more expansion through the remaining letters of the Greek alphabet, plus it’s less jarring from a lore standpoint.

The Admiral ranks could be re-purposed for a secondary system for Fleets (as in guilds) or fleets (as in handling multiple ships), similar to how the Ambassador ranks are used for the diplomacy system.

While there’s no major mechanics changes, this would still be a sizable change to all of the mission dialogs and UI, but it would be a huge boon to immersion and also give Cryptic more room at the top-end of the game to expand further without getting into more Admiralty ranks.

If you like the idea, or you have suggestions to improve it, then go over to the forums and leave a reply.


  1. cameneciumNo Gravatar says:

    I made similar arguments several months ago in the forums. There are usually several threads running about things like this (since beta actually). Dstahl’s position is that it’s too much work because of dialog and item text changes. I think this is just a worse-case scenario and suggested ways to minimize the changes required. Anyway, I’ve had enough of the forums for now and will recap here:

    Use level directly (it’s not a four-letter word) or relabel it as Officer Efficiency Rating. In either case, it’s a number and unbounded; that eliminates all this “exhaust the names list” problems that most proposals just delay, not solve.

    Players unlock rank titles at OER’s 1, 2, 10, 20, 30, and 40 for ENS, LTJG, LT, LCDR, CDR, and CAPT. A rank title is like the current achievement title but separate. Players can choose to set their current rank to whatever titles they have unlocked, giving RPers in particular a level of control they ask for regularly. Players would have an option to allow auto-assigning new ranks on level-up for those who don’t want to be bothered; I’d probably default that to ON so new behavior matches current behavior as closely as possible. Rank title would have a separate toggle like achievement title for overhead display.

    Membership in a fleet also unlocks rank titles at different fleet levels. The default rank progression would be Acting Fleet Captain, Fleet Captain, Commodore (or Rear Admiral LH), Rear Admiral (or Rear Admiral UH), Vice Admiral, Admiral, Fleet Admiral.

  2. […] Players have argued against the current STO rank system since beta, and you can still find several active threads on the topic in the forums on any given day. The problem is that rank is a finite list, but level keeps increasing as the game matures and raises the level cap.  It’s come up outside the STO forums most recently in my fleet’s forums and a blog post by Blue Kae. […]

  3. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    I think this is a great idea. Even in my brief time their it seemed odd that they were handing out a starship to my ensign.