FARSIGHT GAMES

Thursday, 10 May 2018

RPG Review - Star Trek Adventures

Image result for star trek adventuresPublished by Modiphius Entertainment

'Star Trek Adventures takes you to the Final Frontier of the Galaxy, where new discoveries await keen explorers of Starfleet. Your duties may take you to the edges of known space, or to Federation colonies in need, to the borders of neighbouring galactic powers or into the eye of interstellar phenomena. Your ship and your crew epitomise the best Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets has to offer, and you are needed more than ever.’

I've not got hold of my own copy of this nor had time to properly play it, so in the interests of full disclosure please bear in mind that even though I've thoroughly read the book this will be more of a capsule review rather than a full delve into the game and what it did for me.

Now, I’ve had a long relationship with Star Trek; I used to watch it every now and then as a kid but I didn’t really pay attention until ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ came out. Then, when ‘The Next Generation’ hit I watched it as often as I could, and when ‘Deep Space 9’ came along I watched it religiously. I enjoyed ‘Voyager’ for the most part but then started to drift away when ‘Enterprise’ came out, and I could take the last two series or leave them. I realized that I loved Star Trek but I wasn’t in love with it, but ‘Deep Space 9’ would remain my favourite Trek show, as well as one of my favourite ever TV shows. I watched the entire DS9 series in a single week, on old-school video cassettes. That’s probably why I’m so attached to it.

I played the roleplaying games but they were never a constant in my hobby. I started with the FASA game and we enjoyed it for a while as we adventured in ‘The Original Series’ period, the movies and the fledgling ‘The Next Generation’ show. It was a good system and we had fun with it. Then I moved on to the Task Force Games ‘Prime Directive’; I wasn’t enamoured with the game system so I used the character sheet and incorporated the WEG D6 system. The adventures were a little more action adventure, but fun nonetheless. I let the LUG game pass me by but then got hold of the Decipher game, but sadly never used it.

So, I’ve been in a state of Star Trek RPG limbo for the better part of a decade and, to be honest, I never felt the draw, not even after the J.J. Abrams movies or the new ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ show. However, I did follow Modiphius Entertainment’s development of this new roleplaying game, and as it progressed I revisited my old Star Trek games and began to think about how I’d run a new campaign. Since the release of the game I heard many great things about it but I still wouldn’t commit, so I have borrowed a friend’s copy to look through to see if I would consider taking the plunge and finally purchase the game.

The book, a 368 page hardcover, is gorgeous. The layout – like the LCARS screens seen on the TV show – is crisp and clean, the artwork is excellent and the images are really evocative. Already the book is getting my heart racing and I’ve not even read any of the text yet. It’s a great looking tome and if I was going to award it just on looks it’d get full marks.

The book covers the Federation, characters, conflict, starships, running the game and the foes and friends that you’ll come across. In fact, the contents cover everything you’ll need to run a game of Star Trek, and I feel that there’s plenty of material in here to keep you in games for a long time. The big draw for me is that the game is set in 2371, when the USS Voyager is heading into the Badlands, the Dominion War is gathering pace and great change is about to hit the Alpha Quadrant. That’s my era, but there’s nothing stopping you from playing the game in any Star Trek eras, even the Kelvin timeline. Although it’s the TNG era that’s catered for, the game is perfectly suited for any period.

Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook

The game system is the 2D20 system, as used in Mutant Chronicles, Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of, John Carter of Mars and the Infinity RPG. It's a system I have some experience with but one I haven’t delved into in any great depth. Each character has six Attributes scored between 7 to 12, and these are Control, Daring, Fitness, Insight, Presence and Reason. Then they have six Disciplines ranging from 1 to 5 and these are Command, Conn, Engineering, Security, Science and Medicine. To complete an action, a character rolls a number of D20s and they have to roll below a target number that is the character’s Attribute score plus their Discipline score, plus or minus any other modifiers. Each roll that scores under the target number is a success, and these number of successes have to beat a difficulty number set by the GM, the number being between 0 and 5, with 1 being a standard action and the higher the number, the more difficult the action.

At first, I felt the mechanic was strange as not only did you have to score under, but the results also determined if you beat another difficulty level, almost like two systems rolled into one. Once you get used to it, it’s a very good system and serves the game well.

A clever thing about this game is that players will be expected to control more than one character. It would be easy to play a bridge crew character and, when something needs to be done, order a subordinate to do it. In this, you can play the characters that are sent on away missions, or into the bowels of the ship to do the dangerous work. This expands the scope of the game and allows the players to increase their involvement.

The starship section is also a great addition, and this enables the game to recreate amazing starship battles and helps give starships a character of their own, which is a huge part of Star Trek. In the book we are given several classes of ships to use; the Akira, Constellation, Constitution, Defiant, Excelsior, Galaxy, Intrepid, Miranda and Nova. It’s a great selection and gives you a lot of scope to create your own ships, but there’s obviously more to come in further supplements.

Now, at this point in a review I usually go into a lot of details about how the game played, and what we as a group got out of it. After playing the game, I get a much better insight into the game and how it works as a Star Trek RPG, what it does for me and how it plays.

I can’t do that here. After reading the book it pains me that I’ve not yet had the chance to play the game and that this has to be a capsule review. However, from what I’ve read - and the atmosphere the book creates – it’s convinced me that I really, really need to get hold of a copy of this book. It feels like Star Trek, it reads like Star Trek and I feel that I have found a game that not only reflects the setting it generates a sense of excitement I rarely get with a licensed roleplaying game. It works for me as it’s set in my favourite era and the layout is the period of Star Trek that I love the most. That in itself was a selling point for me, but in reality the system works and it evokes the show exceptionally well.

Star Trek Adventures is an excellent game and has stoked my excitement for Star Trek once again. It’s a great system that serves the setting incredibly well and Modiphius have done a great job of capturing Star Trek - no matter what era or reality you want to game in - between the pages.

Highly recommended.

• Create your own Star Trek stories of discovery and adventure on the Final Frontier with 368 pages of content (check out the sample spreads in the images). Full colour hardback, features a matt laminate cover with reading ribbon. 

• Complete 2d20 game system from Modiphius Entertainment adapted for Star Trek Adventures, used in Mutant Chronicles, Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of, John Carter of Mars and the Infinity RPG.

• An extensive exploration of the United Federation of Planets and its galactic neighbours in the Alpha, Beta and Gamma Quadrants.

• Guidelines for Gamemasters old and new, on how to run an adventure of exploration and discovery for the crew of a Federation starship.

• A full catalogue of aliens and antagonists including Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, the Borg and the Dominion.

• Brought to you by a team of expert Star Trek writers including writers from previous editions of Star Trek roleplaying games and other gaming talent.

• Personal logs and intercepted communications by Starfleet Intelligence provide a new perspective on Star Trek and its events.

Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook