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Modular: Take Command of Star Trek Adventures

Monday, March 12th, 2018 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Star-Trek-The-Command-Division-Cover-No-LogosFans love Star Trek for different reasons, and when a fan moves into gaming within the Star Trek universe, those reasons usually inform the type of character they want to emphasize in their games. Do they want to be, like Spock or Data, the science officer who can coolly reason through any problem that comes up? Do they want to be the medical officer who saves lives while chaos erupts around them? The security officer who goes hand-to-hand with a Klingon warrior? The engineer who can make any technological miracle into reality? The hotshot pilot who can maneuver through any cluster of asteroids? Or the Captain of a starship, in charge of herding together all of these elements as they explore the distant unknown regions of space?

A handful of games have been versatile enough to cater to all of these types of fans. The video game Star Trek Online just celebrated its 8th anniversary, and it has a diverse style that allows easily for group or solo play, where players can create characters and take missions that interest them. There are missions that are mostly story-driven diplomatic missions, and some that are primarily about shooting the bad guys, either on ground away missions or in starship combat.

Last August, at GenCon, Modiphius Entertainment released the public version of their tabletop roleplaying game Star Trek Adventures. I’ve been running a group through since December 2016, when the game came out in a public playtest, and have been really pleased with it through all of the transformations into the official release. The system does a great job of allowing for diverse characters and capturing the feel of an episode of whichever Star Trek series is your cup of tea. (Earl Grey, hot, of course.)

The nice thing about a good tabletop RPG is that all you really need to play it is the basic set of rules, willing players, and some creativity. In this case, some binge-watching of Star Trek series (all of them, except Discovery, are available on Netflix) is helpful. But it is helpful to have supplements that can flesh out the dark corners of the setting and the game system, and Modiphius has certainly laid out a plan to provide gamers with supplements and accessories that will make gamer Star Trek fans salivate.

In addition to the Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook (Amazon, Modiphius, DriveThruRPG), they’ve already released an collection of pre-made adventures, These Are the Voyages … (Amazon, Modiphius, DriveThruRPG). There’s also a Living Campaign, that releases a handful of adventures every few months for players to take part in. You can sign up to get access to the Living Campaign materials at the Modiphius website, in exchange for getting on a mailing list with modest amounts of spam.

Two new supplements on the horizon are the Command Division and Beta Quadrant sourcebooks, both now available for pre-order and slated for release this year. The Command Division sourcebook provides options for players who want an emphasis on starship command, with new Talents available for pilots and commanders. It will provide new types of starships and will also include rules for fleet campaigns, where players can ascend to the admiralty and gain command of a fleet of starships. A more detailed deep-dive into this book is available from Geek & Sundry.

The Beta Quadrant sourcebook will describe the region of space that includes the Klingon and Romulan Empires, as well as the mysterious Shackleton Expanse and Narendra station that are the setting of the Modiphius Living Campaign. New species from the Beta Quadrant will be included for player characters, as well as details on enemies such as the Gorn and the Orion Syndicate.

TNG-Away-Team-Group-Shot_webresPhysical accessories available for the game include:

I haven’t explored a ton of these options in my own game, to be honest, but I do own the digital copy of the GM screen through DriveThruRPG. The PDF is around $20, but it comes with a lot of good printable reference sheets that I do recommend. One issue with the Core Rulebook is that there’s a lot of material distributed throughout it, without places that clearly consolidate the information together into easily-accessible summaries. The resource sheets included with the GM screen definitely help players quickly identify their play options.

My own group played some of the pre-made adventures during the public playtest, but since the full release we have played original adventures. We are the crew of the U.S.S. Shakespeare, a small Nova class exploration/pathfinder vessel dispatched to patrol the Romulan border and travel into the Shackleton Expanse (a largely unexplored region of space that is the main focus of the Living Campaign). Though we’ve had only a handful of “episodes” so far, you can look over the log recounting them over at Obsidian Portal.

If you want to see how Star Trek Adventures plays out, there’s a great live play videocast of a campaign through Geek & Sundry’s web series Shield of Tomorrow, which can be watched on Youtube, Alpha, or (by subscription).

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