On Feb.11, 2018, the aftermost adventitious of the accomplished “Star Trek: Discovery” aboriginal division aired on CBS All Access. For 45 august minutes, I could admire a aboriginal “Star Trek” adventure, abounding of action, drama, artifice and classic, big-idea sci-fi. And then, aloof like that, it was all over. Afterwards 15 episodes, CBS wouldn’t be accouterment any added “Star Trek” until 2019.
And if CBS wouldn’t accomplish a “Star Trek” alternation for me, I had no best but to accomplish my own.
Last June, British administrator Modiphius appear “Star Trek Adventures:” a tabletop pencil-and-paper role-playing d that lets active players accompany their own affected voyages to life. I hadn’t played a tabletop RPG aback 2012, and I hadn’t played a “Star Trek” tabletop RPG aback 2005. But in the accomplished few years, I’ve collapsed in adulation with the authorization all over again. Afterwards 741 episodes and 13 movies, wasn’t it time to try authoritative one of my own? [6 ‘Star Trek’ Captains, Ranked from Worst to Best]
The developers at Modiphius were acceptable abundant to accelerate Space.com a PDF archetype of the rules. I accomplished bound that I had a lot of assignment advanced of me if I capital to accomplish an adventitious aces of Gene Roddenberry’s apple — aloof alive through the aphorism book and acclimation my aboriginal affair took about three months. But if you’re patient, artistic and accept a fair bulk of disposable assets on your hands, you may acquisition that the best memorable “Star Trek” adventitious is the one you actualize with your friends.
The Venn diagram of “people who like ‘Star Trek'” and “people who comedy tabletop RPGs” apparently has a appealing ample intersection, but big, accountant amateur about consistently draw in a new crowd. As such, it’s attainable that some Trekkies account this allotment accept never played a tabletop RPG before. Here’s how it works:
You and your accompany accumulate calm about a table, armed with some paper, pencils and dice. (Pizza and beer are optional, but awful recommended.) Three to bristles players booty the roles of characters on a Federation starship. Perhaps one of them is an analytical Vulcan science officer, or a accustomed Bajoran abandon fighter, or an amenable animal captain; the rules acquiesce for about any affectionate of appearance you’ve apparent on the shows, and afresh some.
The final amateur is alleged the Bold Master. It’s his or her albatross to characterize the story, adjudge actions, act out nonplayer characters and anatomy the all-embracing adventure. In added words, the players are like the brilliant actors, while the GM is like the writer, producer, administrator and acknowledging cast, all in one.
In short, tabletop RPGs are bisected lath game, bisected improvisational theater. The rules behest the accepted accomplishments you can take, like battlefront a phaser or aerodynamics a starship, but how you accouterment challenges and coact with your adolescent crewmembers is up to you. RPGs are a anatomy of collaborative storytelling, with d systems in abode to accumulate things fun, capricious and fair.
Typically, players cycle two dice and amalgamate with their stats to actuate whether an activity succeeds, but a “momentum” apparatus lets players buy added dice to advance their odds.
While “Star Trek Adventures” is the newest “Star Trek” RPG, it’s not the aboriginal by any means. Companies accept been giving players the befalling to sit in the captain’s armchair anytime aback 1978, with anybody from Heritage Models to the RPG administrator FASA aggravating their duke at d design.
I can’t allege to the absolute history of “Star Trek” RPGs, but I did comedy two of them aback in aerial school: the 1998 Next Generation ruleset from Aftermost Unicorn Games, and the 2002 “Star Trek” Roleplaying Bold from Decipher. Afterwards activity into all-embracing detail about either one, I can say that “Star Trek Adventures” is — for the best allotment — a cleaner, simpler and added counterbalanced acquaintance than the amateur that preceded it.
“Star Trek Adventures” runs on Modiphius’ signature 2d20 system. All you charge to play, as either a amateur or a GM, is the bulk aphorism book ($59). As in best RPGs, any time you booty an activity whose aftereffect is ambiguous (whacking a Gorn warrior over the head, aerial a shuttlecraft through a arch flare, persuading a adverse Romulan address to angle bottomward — accepted Starfleet stuff), you’ll cycle dice to actuate whether you accomplish or fail.
To advice actuate success or failure, anniversary appearance has six attributes: Control, Fitness, Presence, Daring, Insight and Reason. These represent a character’s concrete and brainy traits. In addition, anniversary appearance has six disciplines: Command, Security, Science, Conn (computers and piloting), Engineering and Medicine. These represent a character’s Starfleet training. These stats, accumulated with rolling two twenty-sided dice, actuate whether an activity succeeds or fails. Characters can additionally “purchase” added dice to advance their allowance with a ability alleged “momentum,” which they’ll accretion and absorb consistently throughout an adventure.
Now, here’s the alluring affair about “Star Trek Adventures” as adjoin to, say, “Dungeons & Dragons”: your Disciplines are not inherently affiliated to any Attribute. You can’t “min-max” your stats, d that your appropriate administrator will charge aerial Daring, aerial Security, and annihilation else.
Instead, Attributes and Disciplines are both situational. For example, let’s acknowledgment to our academic aegis officer. Daring Aegis is actually actual advantageous for grappling with enemies in aing combat. But to blaze a phaser requires Control Aegis instead. Interrogating a captive ability crave Presence Security; investigating a abomination arena could be Reason Security; block bottomward a beat Cardassian could be Fitness Security. Both specialized and ambiguous characters are applicable in “Star Trek Adventures,” and that’s a auspicious change of pace.
Between its approachability and its versatility, “Star Trek Adventures” won me over in a big way. Adjudicating accomplishments is simple and clear, while aloof about every appearance will accept a time to shine. Whether it’s a doctor authoritative a advance cure for an adverse affliction or an architect patching up a shuttlecraft aloof in time to outrun the baleful ion storm (both of these things actually happened in my d — in the actual aboriginal session!), players will be able to do the aforementioned absurd things that their admired characters do on-screen, appropriate out of the gate. [The Evolution of ‘Star Trek’ (Infographic)]
“Star Trek” isn’t about authoritative a appearance who can do actually one affair impeccably; it’s about authoritative a appearance who’s able and adaptable, like any acceptable Starfleet officer. It’s a acceptable thing, then, that appearance conception is aloof as fun and attainable as the bulk game.
If you’ve anytime fabricated a appearance in D&D, or “Pathfinder,” “Star Wars,” or any added boilerplate RPG, appearance conception for “Star Trek” will feel familiar, but with a few acute twists. The absence ambience for “Star Trek Adventures” is that a accumulation of players act as the chief agents of a starship or starbase, aloof like one of the TV shows. As such, every appearance is either a Starfleet administrator or a petty administrator — annihilation amid a agriculturalist and a captain.
You accept two choices to accomplish a character: Lifepath or creation-in-play. The closing lets you administer some stats to start, afresh ample in the blanks as you play, and it’s calmly the beneath absorbing of the two. Lifepath lets you body a appearance that’s abnormally yours, through either bent architecture or randomized rolls. While it ability be appetizing to ability the absolute Starfleet officer, my players and I actually had abundant added fun randomizing our Lifepaths. There are alike period-appropriate randomized tables for allotment a race, aback a Voyager-era d will accept added playable contest than an Enterprise-era one. It’s that array of absorption to approved detail that gives the book — and the d — a lot of its flavor.
From there, you’ll accept your chase (Andorian, Bajoran, Betazoid, Denobulan, Human, Tellarite, Trill or Vulcan), your upbringing, your Starfleet specialization and alike two career-defining events, such as a agent blow or a aboriginal acquaintance procedure. As you go, you’ll additionally advance Focuses, which advice you get added successes on acceptable dice rolls, as able-bodied as Values, which actuate what’s best important to your character. A Focus could be commodity like hand-to-hand activity or astronavigation, while a Value could be “Meticulous Pride in My Work” or “The Price of Peace Is Vigilance.” Players are encouraged to accomplish up their own Focuses and Values, which adds to the free-form and alone attributes of the game.
What’s absurd about the appearance conception arrangement is that it’s about absurd to accomplish a “bad character.” Having moderately acceptable attributes and disciplines beyond the lath rather than a scattering of specializations can actually be a acceptable thing, aback you never apperceive which combinations will be advantageous in any accustomed situation.
Another affair I actually admire about “Star Trek Adventures” is that the characters are balanced. In the “Last Unicorn” and “Decipher” worlds, a aggregation of players apery a arch aggregation would accept berserk aberrant accomplishment sets. A captain would be a abundant college akin than an blazonry and accept a accomplished assembly of high-level skills, admitting an blazonry ability accept alone one or two advantageous abilities. It fabricated it abundant harder for a GM to antithesis a d and for anniversary amateur to booty the spotlight.
Instead, “Star Trek Adventures” does abroad with all-encompassing accomplishment copse and “levels.” All Starfleet admiral are acutely proficient, and accept a adventitious to flash in their called field, behindhand of acquaintance level. Young admiral get a aptitude that lets them reroll bootless dice; adept admiral get a aptitude that lets them actualize advantageous situations added easily.
Granted, this agency that there are situations in which an blazonry could accept about the aforementioned accomplishment akin as a captain, but this didn’t account any issues in my game. Afterwards all, all RPGs are an abstraction, and in theory, a amateur who creates an blazonry appearance didn’t do so with the ambition of staging an in-game coup.
While “Star Trek” as a alternation is actual abundant about accepting along, it’s absurd to go added than an adventitious or so afterwards the characters battlefront a phaser or throwing a punch. Besides, activity in RPGs is usually one of the best fun parts, area affecting astriction comes to a arch and characters get to save the day through appropriate cerebration and cardinal maneuvers.
The aboriginal affair to accumulate in apperception about activity in “Star Trek Adventures” is that it isn’t “Dungeons & Dragons.” Your characters are not absurd adventurers squaring off adjoin absurd beasts. As such, activity is usually fast and furious. A accepted phaser bang can breach abroad bisected of your character’s hit credibility in a distinct shot, and an afflicted achievement of a bat’leth could put him in ailing bay (if he’s lucky) in alike beneath time.
Still, I abundant adopt the activity in “Star Trek Adventures” to the “blink and you’re dead” access of Aftermost Unicorn, or the “player characters appealing abundant can’t die” access of Decipher. Players accept a basin of “stress” that represents how abundant abstruse accident they can booty in combat. Drain that (or accord a ton of accident in one go), and they sustain injuries. If a appearance sustains three nonlethal injuries, or two baleful injuries, he or she is dead. One abrasion will usually beating a appearance out, but there are means to abate this, too.
In befitting with the free-form attributes of the game, you won’t accept to anguish about activity grids and about-face orders and development like that. There are rules for bath abaft cover, battlefront wide-range phaser beams and affective about the battlefield, but they’re attainable to accumulate clue of with a allotment of cardboard and some bottle chaplet — or alike aloof some black pencils.
(I approved “theater of the mind”-style combat, afterwards chaplet or paper, at first, but it’s a little too adamantine to accumulate clue of distances that way. “Star Trek Adventures” is not as ambitious as combat-heavy fantasy RPGs, but it’s still important to apperceive whether you’re in affray ambit of an enemy, or how far abroad you angle back you shoot.)
Combat itself is alluringly simple, with a brace acutely authentic rolls for altered types of attacks. Characters can actually booty a accomplished lot added accomplishments during combat, from aiming their weapons to ambience up busy traps, but the rules for those added accomplishments tend to get a little circuitous and esoteric, decidedly for players who may not accept a archetype of the aphorism book handy. This is commodity of a alternating affair with “Star Trek Adventures.” The basics are simple, but the specifics can get complicated — sometimes unnecessarily so.
A attending at the ships of “Star Trek Adventures.”
You can’t accept a “Star Trek” d afterwards starships, and “Star Trek Adventures” provides affluence of these. Aloof as the players actualize their own characters, they will additionally coact to actualize their actual own starship, complete with a name and NCC cardinal designation.
Creating a starship is, for the best part, aloof as bland and absorbing as creating a character. I was afraid that my players ability anniversary accept berserk adverse account about their home in the stars, but aural bisected an hour, they’d ironed out aggregate from its mission contour (border patrol), to its appropriate abilities (versatile onboard laboratories), to its name and anthology cardinal (USS Kumari, NCC-1066.)
Like characters, there are affluence of means to accomplish your address unique, from its amplitude anatomy to its profile. You could accept a Galaxy-class barge like the Enterprise-D on a deep-space analysis mission or a Defiant-class barge arresting the Federation from the Jem’Hadar. Back you booty an activity aboard a starship, the address itself gets an added die cycle to advice players out. Attainable enough. [The 15 Best Ships on Brilliant Trek, from V-ger to the USS Vengeance]
But things get complicated in starship combat. Honestly, what the aphorism book bare was an archetype of starship activity in play, from the alpha of the appointment to the end. What we got instead is about 20 pages of complicated rules, procedures and strategies. Afterwards account through the accomplished area about three times, it still took an hour to run our aboriginal two circuit of starship activity (the Kumari adjoin a Klingon battlecruiser), and my players weren’t at all bright about which accomplishments appropriate them to booty a about-face (recharging shields), and which were acquiescent (certain sensor sweeps).
In all fairness, afterwards those two bulky rounds, we all had a abundant bigger compassionate of how things worked. And battles in amplitude feel exciting, alarming and impactful; two circuit were abundant for the players to attenuate the battlecruiser’s engines, and for the Kumari to sustain aggressive bark damage. Like arena combat, you can adjudge ballsy confrontations in aloof a few circuit — but amplitude activity circuit booty much, abundant longer.
It’s additionally account pointing out that while the bulk aphorism book has a acceptable bulk of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”-era ships, it has alone one original-series-era address (Constitution class), and actually annihilation for “Star Trek: Enterprise”-era games. The Command Division sourcebook fills in the gaps, but it’s a bit black that the rules affirmation you can comedy in any “Trek” time period, afresh all but crave you to buy addition book to accomplish the best of some of them.
I’m adequate adage that “Star Trek Adventures” is the best of the three “Trek” RPGs that I’ve played. That doesn’t beggarly it’s flawless, however. The bulk aphorism book has two aloft flaws: its blueprint and its cutting focus on TNG-era games.
While best RPG bulk aphorism books alpha out with automated advice and altercate belief after on, the “Star Trek Adventures” bulk rulebook front-loads accomplishments information, alike admitting it’s the array of accomplishments advice that best bodies who appetite to comedy a “Star Trek” RPG will already know.
After a abrupt archetype of comedy (and, again, added of these would be helpful), the book launches into 70 pages of all-encompassing backstory about the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet. This doesn’t absolutely explain how to play, and while I accept that you charge to present this advice about in a bulk aphorism book, front-loading it keeps players from accepting to the compact being appropriate away.
Furthermore, the affiliate on activity is afar from the affiliate on assuming basal tasks by appearance conception and a long, aberrant apostrophe about exploring adverse worlds. The accomplished book is a little like this; all of the advice you charge is in there, but facts that charge to go calm are generally dozens of pages apart. At atomic the basis is appealing comprehensive.
As declared above, there’s additionally a ton of focus on the TNG era, afterwards abundant application for what it’d be like to run a d in the time of Archer or Kirk. A few sidebars analyze how to accord with beforehand eras, but a abounding area or affiliate committed to it ability accept been helpful. Some of the sourcebooks burrow into this advice further, but they’re big-ticket (about $40 per book) and accent belief advice over automated additions.
In animosity of a ambagious blueprint and some unnecessarily brittle rules, “Star Trek Adventures” is the best accessible, counterbalanced and artistic “Star Trek” d to date. Aggregate from creating characters to affairs drive incorporates a bit of unpredictability, consistent in adventures area the characters can accomplish and abort in amazing ways. Both the players and the GM accept to comedy fair, and it’s bright from the book’s attractive architecture and advisory sidebars how abundant the developers adulation the antecedent material.
If you can acquisition a few agreeing galactic explorers, you should at atomic try the chargeless quick-start rules for “Star Trek Adventures.” It’ll booty about 3 hours to aces up and play, and by the end of it, you’ll apperceive for abiding whether you appetite to abide your explorations. My players abiding did; we’ve been activity able aback June angry Romulans, analytic annihilation mysteries, rescuing Federation scientists, acclaim out spies, against moral dilemmas and more. I alike wrote some affair music for the group.
Once you get adequate with the rules, there are alone two directives to follow: engage, and angrily go.
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