Modular: Star Trek Adventures is Versed in Multiple Techniques

Friday, April 7th, 2017 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

startrekadventuresThis week marked the -46th anniversary of First Contact Day, the date in 2063 when Zefram Cochrane was the first human to create and engage a warp drive (time travel situations excluded), as depicted in the film Star Trek: First Contact. As such, it seems appropriate to look at the state of affairs with the upcoming Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, slated for a 2017 release from Modiphius Entertainment.

Modiphius has been playtesting the game since late last year as an open live playtest, using gamers from across the world as guinea pigs to find bugs in their design and crowdsourcing improvement suggestions. In addition to the Alpha set of rules for playtest, the Round 1 included a generic “starter” adventure that all of the playtesters could run through. I discussed my thoughts on this shortly after I playtested it, back in December, playing the group with a mix of Star Trek enthusiasts and their less-enthusiastic spouses, all of whom are relative novices at roleplaying games.

Earlier this year, based on feedback from the first round, Modiphius released a second round of playtest, as well as new adventures focused on the specific ship that you signed up to test for, allowing them to test science/exploration missions vs. combat-oriented missions vs. diplomacy missions, and so on. The new set of rules contained updates to earlier rules, but also a key new gaming system: starships. Once we provided feedback on the Round 2 playtest, playtesters were given access to the character creation system.

So let’s take a moment to dive into Star Trek Adventures …

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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

star-trek-first-contact

As a TOS fan who came to the other Star Trek series relatively recently, I have to admit that The Next Generation, although entertaining, didn’t grab me as much as its predecessor. Nor did the first entry in the TNG run of movies — Generations.

Fortunately, First Contact fares quite a bit better than that installment.

Part of the appeal this time around, in this the eighth of the Star Trek movies, is that it centers on the Borg. Who were the most effective of all Star Trek villains, in my opinion. They first appeared in Star Trek: Next Generation and then in each of the TV series after that. They turned up very frequently in Voyager, which featured Seven of Nine, a “recovering” Borg/human, as a regular member of the cast.

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Modular: Boldly Go … with Star Trek Adventures RPG Playtest

Monday, December 5th, 2016 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

A Starfleet away team encounters some complications in Star Trek Adventures RPG.

A Starfleet Away Team encounters some complications in the Star Trek Adventures RPG

Though Star Trek is one of the most popular franchises in science fiction and fantasy, it’s been over a decade since there has been a tabletop roleplaying game in production set in the Star Trek universe. That’s about to change in 2017 with the release of Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius Games.

The game is currently in development, but if you’re interested in checking it out, you don’t have to wait until 2017. Modiphius has just begun an open alpha playtest, allowing people across the world to begin playing games set in the world, test out the rules system, and provide feedback in time for the final design of the game.

Last Friday, I was able to get together a group to do a trial run of the first open playtest adventure. Though there’s no telling exactly which mechanics will stay the same through the playtest process, what is clear at this very early stage is that Modiphius is putting together a game that captures the feel of Star Trek in a tabletop roleplaying game.

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Celebrate a Glorious Half Century with The Best of Star Trek: Volume 2 – Fifty Years of Star Trek

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

50-years-of-star-trek-volume-2-smallI’ve been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek in my own way. Meaning I’ve been giving in to impulse buys, and snatching up those commemorative photo-books and magazines when I see them. Yeah, they’re sometimes a little lacking in depth, but it doesn’t matter. I buy them mostly for the marvelously nostalgic photos, for the way they manage to make Star Trek — one of our most venerable franchises — young again.

Titan Comics has been publishing the official Star Trek magazine since 1995, and they collected collected some of the best articles from that magazine in The Best of Star Trek: Volume 1 – The Movies (June 2016). This is the second volume in that set, covering the various broadcast series. It will be available at the end of the month.

The 50-year history of Star Trek, as told by the people who were there – every cast member interviewed.

From the vaults of Star Trek Magazine, we celebrate a half-century of Star Trek in a volume packed with classic archive interviews with every lead cast member, from William Shatner to Patrick Stewart, to Chris Pine and beyond. Featuring every incarnation of world’s favorite sci-fi saga, including the stars of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the Trek movies, familiar faces reveal the true story behind the greatest moments in the fifty-year history of Star Trek.

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the world’s favorite sci-fi saga, this special collection of cast interviews tells the true story behind the making of Star Trek. Join us as we revisit classic interviews with the entire casts of every Star Trek series, including William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Patrick Stewart (Jean Luc Picard), Brent Spiner (Data), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway), Jolene Blaylock (T’Pol), and many more. We’ll also discover how actors Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), and the stars of the recent movies made the characters their own.

The Best of Star Trek: Volume 2 – Fifty Years of Star Trek will be published by Titan Comics on November 29, 2016. It is 176 pages in full color, priced at $19.99 for both the trade and digital editions.


Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

star-trek-generations-small

I think the statute of limitations on spoilers has probably run out 22 years after this movie was released… but be advised that there’s a sort of big spoiler ahead.

I suppose I should also mention that I was a TOS guy back in the day and didn’t even get around to watching the other Star Trek series until about a decade ago. I ended up liking The Next Generation well enough, although oddly it always seemed to me that it might have been more dated than its predecessor. But that’s neither here nor there.

What I’m getting around to, perhaps awkwardly, is that even though I’m mostly a TOS fan, I thought that six TOS movies were enough and perhaps even a bit too much, and it was probably a good time to switch things up a bit. But not before some TOS crew members appear on the scene, early on in this movie.

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Fantasia 2016, Day 3: Alien Spirits (Parasyte: Part 1 and Part 2, La Rage du Démon, For the Love of Spock, and Terraformars)

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Parasyte: Part 1Saturday, July 16, began early for me. I headed downtown to the Hall Theatre for an 11:05 showing of Parasyte: Part 1 (Kiseiju), the first instalment of a Japanese science-fiction–horror duology. After that I planned to head to the festival screening room; I hoped to see La Rage du Démon (Fury of the Demon), a French horror mockumentary that mixes film pioneer Georges Méliès, occultism, and legends of mass hysteria into the story of a cursed silent movie. Then I’d head back to the Hall for a showing of For the Love of Spock, a documentary about Leonard Nimoy and his most famous role, hosted by the director, Nimoy’s son Adam. I’d wrap up the night with Terraformars, a science-fiction film directed by Takashi Miike about humans battling genetically-modified cockroaches on the surface of Mars. Miike would be present to host a question-and-answer session and receive Fantasia’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

It would be a full day of films, and it began, as I said, with Parasyte. I would see the second film — in English Parasyte: Part 2, in romanised Japanese Kiseiju Kanketsu-hen — on Sunday morning, so I’ll write here about the two films together. Both were directed by Takashi Yamazaki from scripts Yamazaki wrote with Ryota Kosawa based on the manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki (an English translation of the manga came out from Tokyopop and is now in print from Kodansha Comics USA; an anime version, Parasyte -the maxim-, ran in Japan in 2014 and 2015). The films do a reasonable job of standing alone, but the last shots of Part 1 explicitly set up Part 2, while there’s so much story in Part 1 that I’d have to think Part 2 would suffer from not having seen it. I suspect Part 2 would end up understandable, but the characters perhaps even more than the plot would feel flattened. The first film runs an hour and three-quarters and the second two hours, so they both individually have the length of full stories. But there’s no doubt to me that they benefit from being viewed fairly close together.

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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek V – The Final Frontier (1989)

Sunday, July 31st, 2016 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Star Trek V pics 3-small

Early on I was inclined to be charitable about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and I wasn’t really sure what all the fuss was about. As you may be aware, the consensus seems to be that it was one of the worst of all of the Star Trek movies.

But up until about the halfway mark I didn’t quite get it. Not that the first half of this movie is a masterpiece, mind you. But as the second half began to unfold I started to catch on.

The plot can be dispensed with in a few words. Spock’s half-brother — one of those free-spirited emotional Vulcan types — commandeers the Enterprise and sets off to the center of the galaxy to find God. Which doesn’t seem to be all that far removed from the premise of the first Star Trek movie. Which also featured an abundance of scenes of people trying to look awed but mostly looking dopey. Since there’s little drama or interest to be found in this premise there’s also some standard stuff about Klingons with bad intentions lurking about.

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Get an Inside Look at the Hottest Boardgames with Meeple Monthly

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Meeple Monthly May 2016-smallIf you hang out in game stores (and who doesn’t?) you’ve doubtless seen copies of GTM, Game Trade Magazine, a monthly industry mag for the Adventure Hobby industry that also doubles as a handy catalog for Alliance Game Distributors. GTM is always a pleasant read, with fun articles and full color pics of upcoming RPGs and card games. While I was browsing the magazine rack at my local game store last month, I came across something called Meeple Monthly, and at first couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like GTM, except for board games… a full color magazine devoted to the very latest releases, with full color throughout, chatty articles, a nice assortment of ads, and enthusiasm for the industry dripping off every page. And that’s exactly what it was.

Ah, what a marvelous world we live in. An inexpensive color magazine devoted to new board games? Yes please! I snatched up that issue and brought it home, and I’ve bought every one I could find since. The May issue, featuring a cover feature on Fireside Games and USAopoly’s Star Trek Panic, covers games shipping in July. It also contains:

  • An inside look at Happy Salmon from North Star Games
  • A sneak peak at 400 new monsters for Dungeons and Dragons Ancient Bestiaries in Tome of Beasts, from Kobold Press
  • Wade Rockett’s preview of the excellent artwork in Tome of Beasts
  • Robin Laws’ inside look at Gumshoe going One-2-One in Cthulhu Confidential, from Pelgrane Press
  • The Battle for Hill 218 comes to the Ogre Universe in Ogre: Objective 218, the newest from Steve Jackson Games

All that plus over a dozen pages cataloging every upcoming board game, from all the major publishers, all in full color. What’s not to love?

Meeple Monthly is edited by Jenna Piller and published by ACD Distribution. It is 48 pages, full color, priced at just $3.95. See more details — including news on the upcoming June issue — at their Facebook page.


The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in April

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Star Trek 4 exact change

Good to see Star Trek is still enormously popular with our readers. The most widely read post at Black Gate last month was William I. Lengeman III’s review of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the latest installment in his ongoing Star Trek Re-Watch (his review of ST III was #2 last month).

Or maybe we’re just old. The most popular category last month was Vintage Treasures (that’s my favorite too!) When I get old enough, my eyesight will fade enough that I can’t read books, and then what will it be? Maybe Old Time Radio? That’ll be fun.

Number 2 on the list was our announcement on Black Gate‘s Hugo nomination, followed by M Harold Page’s article on Worldbuilding in the Warhammer 40K Universe, and Sean McLachlan on Vintage Trash: Reel Wild Cinema (Vintage again! We are old). Rounding out the Top Five last month was M Harold Page’s review of All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World.

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Star Trek After All: The New Trailer for Star Trek Beyond

Saturday, May 21st, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

I’ve enjoyed the first two films in the Star Trek reboot, despite the fact that they’ve veered pretty far from the kind of thoughtful storytelling that made the show great. But as flashy summer blockbusters without a lot of depth go, they’re better than most — and the writers certainly captured the humor of the show, at least.

But when I saw the first trailer for the third film, Star Trek Beyond, I thought new director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious) had pretty much abandoned all pretense of making a Star Trek film in favor of a two-fisted action-comedy in space. Co-screenwriter Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), who also plays Scotty, has clearly put his comedy stamp on this one. Was there anything of Star Trek left?

The second trailer, released today, is a dramatic shift in tone from the first one, and seems to confirm that yes, this is a Star Trek film after all. Have a look and see what you think. Star Trek Beyond is being produced by Skydance and Bad Robot Productions, and will arrive in theaters on July 22, 2016.


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