Gaming in the Universe of…. Star Trek pt. 1
Family review of the most recent Star Trek
This is a guest column written by Uncle Bear.
There have been a couple of official Star Trek roleplaying games over the years. I’m only familiar with the one from FASA, which I played quite a bit, but haven’t seen enough of the Decipher game to comment. Regardless of the system used, if I ran a Star Trek campaign there’s a structure that I would use to insure a variety of adventures with a logical basis for the characters to be there.
It never made sense to me that both the original series and the next generation had such large ships and crews when we only ever had a handful of characters. I’d go with a very small ship, with a small crew. Then you have fewer NPCs to deal with, and a reason for player characters to do more things because they have to fill multiple roles.
To my thinking, there are only three roles that need to be filled: Pilot, Engineer, Doctor. Someone to fly the ship, someone to fix the ship, someone to heal the people. Any of these could be filled by NPCs, of course, but it’s more interesting for player characters to have these roles. Characters can really have any other skills the players want, as long as these three roles exist. I’d let players use existing races, or make up their own (most races in Trek are just humans with body paint and/or latex thingies on their heads anyway). As the gamemaster, I’d assign rank based on player experience, both in roleplaying and with Star Trek. The veteran gets to be Captain, the newbie gets to be an Ensign and work his way up. I’d let the Captain make field promotions, with approval from Starfleet Command (i.e. me, the GM).
I’d have the ship based at a starbase or a planet. Then they’d have access to interesting NPCs, different types of adventures, a place to repair an resupply, and an NPC officer to get orders from.
The Patrol and The Missions
It never made sense to me that the Enterprise (any incarnation) would go out of its way to travel hundreds of light years to transport one scientist or one diplomat, no matter how important they were. By giving
the ship a regular patrol route, it makes sense (logic!) for them to be deliverying supplies or ferrying passengers from point A to point B. They could also be dispatched on short notice to investigate anomalies
or to intercept unidentified alien spacecraft entering the sector. Of course, a regular patrol also allows their enemies to set up an ambush. The real value of having a patrol route is that the gamemaster only has
to create a finite number of planets and NPCs, which he or she can reuse, and it allows for plotlines that are non-episodic and can unfold over time.
Adventures should be designed around the player characters’ abilities. If someone plays an alien, that race and/or their enemies should play an important part in the campaign. When an alien race is needed, fall back
on the player characters’ race. If someone wants to be a xenobotanist, make sure to create adventures where that’s important. If someone plays a diplomat, make sure there are diplomatic missions. The characters the players create reflect the sorts of adventures they want to play, so use that as your springboard.
The great part is that the above formula will work in any era. Just change the uniforms, ship designs, and aliens!