When I first received a copy of Star Trek Adventures by Modiphus Games I couldn’t wait to open it, as I have been a fan of Star Trek – ever since I can remember turning on a television. Finally here was my chance to stand on the bridge of a Federation ship and order Away Team missions, or pit my wits against a cloaked Romulan Warbird. I could also tell my own stories in the Star Trek universe and boldly take my players into the furthest reaches of space. With the smell only a new book makes when it is opened for the first time I began to explore Star Trek Adventures.
The Star Trek Adventures Core Rule Book
At 347 pages the book is big and well printed and produced in the Star Trek theme throughout. Layered within are many fluffy pictures and sections to help create the atmosphere for both player and Games Master alike covering a wide range of subjects with everything from planet types, starships, sector maps and images of famous characters from the Star Trek universe.
The rules themselves are spread over the book and are mixed in with the background information which for some with a Vulcan like mind will be fine, but I found that I spent a lot of my time running a game flicking from page to page trying to find the rules that I needed. I am sure as I become well acquainted with the system I will be less reliant on the book but for now I am wishing for a reference page to help keep my games both fast and fun.
The Game Rules
Where do I start? The game rules are unique and cover a wide range of activities from piloting a starship in combat to fixing a generator on a planet. The system uses 2d20’s and is built around 6 core attributes which are abstract in nature (Control, Fitness, Presence, Daring, Insight and Reason) and six core disciplines (Command, Security, Science, Conn, Engineering and Medicine) which are used to influence a player’s activities – so if you want to dive over a computer console whilst firing your Phaser that would be Daring and Security; whereas if you wanted to steer your Runabout through an asteroid belt whilst being chased by the Dominion that would be a Control and Conn roll.
To further enhance these traits you also have Focuses and Talents which if useful can further influence your roll. Unusually you make these skills up yourself with the aim of blending your character how you wish them to be with examples littered randomly throughout the book to aid new players in character design. The game also uses a Momentum and Threat system to allow both the players and GM to influence a particular scene with Momentum being a player generated bonus that allows them to turn boost their chances of success or directly question the GM when spent where Threat allows the GM to smile evilly whilst complicating certain player actions or bringing on new monsters should they wish to ruin the players day. Starships are player designed too with their own unique attributes, disciplines and skills and whom function as a supporting NPC for player activities. This not only boosts the player’s chances of success it also encourages the players to begin to love the starship they fly in.
An example of our Star Trek Adventures game
In our game the players have all begun as Junior Lieutenants fresh out of Starfleet Academy as they wanted to really experience the world of Star Trek and climb the ranks rather than start as experienced Bridge Officers. They have embarked on the USS Bison, an Intrepid Class Starship known for its extensive Starfleet history patrolling the Neutral Zone between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. After exploring the Star Base they embarked on the Bison and found it not at all like how they had imagined it during the Academy as the ship is battered and a third of the crew are dead after a deep space exploration mission went badly wrong. They are currently earning the right for access to the Bridge and spend most of their time either working or receiving training in the Holodeck practicing their skills so that they will be ready to take a ship of their own as promotion allows. Their most recent exploits have been their first Away Team mission, led by the Executive Officer where they tasted combat for the first time and did very well. From a GM point of view this has allowed the players to learn how to play without putting too much pressure on them as they learned in the Holodeck that it is very easy to crash a Starship.
For us we have chosen the period from both ST: Generation and ST: Deep Space Nine as our setting though the game does cater for ST: Enterprise and ST: Original. We’ve seen the Dominion appear, the Klingons break their alliance with the Federation and the Romulans testing the borders of the Neutral Zone whilst an unprepared and battered Federation desperately attempts to hold the line but the choice is yours in both when and where you go.
I have to give credit to Modiphius for their work on Star Trek Adventures. They have tried hard to build a game system that allows the players to experience the Star Trek universe as a Command Team whilst keeping the feel of an episode of Star Trek at the forefront of your gaming experience. They also have been daring in their game design with unusual character statistics rather than relying on the more mundane statistics over-used in most RPG’s. To further add to the drama the Momentum and Threat systems are novel ways for the players and GM’s to interact with each other and further enhance the feeling that you are in an episode of Star Trek. Whether you will like the vagueness of the Traits and Focus system will be up to you however, as my group has mixed feelings on these.
Overall Star Trek Adventures is a great game if you are a fan of Star Trek and enjoy the roleplaying element of gaming as well as a light system that focuses more on story than it does on statistics and skills. If you want to create and play a world of Star Trek then this is the game system for you.