To Boldy Go

Greeting Programs.

It has been some time since I wrote any content for this page, I have been super busy recently and have not had much time to play X-Wing, which makes me sad. So this post is going to be more like other older posts, we’re going to take a look at an RPG, talk about it and maybe even do some example character generation.

Which game are you going to look at Steve, I hear no one ask….

Well, this game is a property that has had several successful roleplaying games, minis battle games and other game based media outings for pretty much as long as gaming has been possible. What is it? Well these are the voyages…..

Star Trek Adventures Bridge Scene

Image Used with Permission – All Rights Remain with Modiphius Studio.

Yes indeed, we are going to look at the new Star Trek RPG from Modiphius Entertainment (http://www.modiphius.com/), Modiphius have been having a really good few years, they have put out some amazing games and have developed a reputation for solid quality.

So, while I await my pre-order of the Borg Cube boxed set of the new books and other associated things we are going to take a look at what we have in the PDF copy.

First up the book is massive, the PDF is 376 pages long and has a great 1701-D inspired cover. It opens right up with an Alpha Quadrent map which shows in extreme detail where all the factions and worlds are located, this map looks pretty awesome and has a ton of detail on it. Moving on into the book proper you can see that the layout people have taken the obvious choice and are using the LCARS style for the book layout and this is a great choice, it immediately makes the book look like it’s part of the Star Trek universe and I find myself mentally playing back the Enterprise 1701-D ambient controller noise from the bridge.

Click here for an example of what that sounds like. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb3Yxz8bxj8)

Ok, moving one we take a look at the contents page.. What is it that this book covers? What can we expect?

Contents

As you can see the book covers a lot of ground in its 376 pages. The introduction to the book gives you the basics, you know it’s the stuff we all know, “What is roleplaying?” and “How do I use this book” as well as a general statement telling us the default setting for the game and helps us place it in the games timeline, the Enterprise 1701-D will soon be sent to Amargosa observatory setting in motion the events of Star Trek: Generations, the USS Voyage is undergoing its final mission checks and the USS Defiant has been delivered to DS9 to aid in the search for the Dominion.

Then it talks about Dice and systems a little, the game uses a combination of D20 & D6 dice, a basic challenge uses 2D20 and you are attempting to role under your stat+skill total. The D6 are called ‘Challenge Dice’ and are rolled to determine effect for damage or other challenge effects.

There is then the expected ‘example of play’ and some other bits and it wraps up the intro.

From here the layout is pretty standard, there is a long section talking about the United Federation of Planets, it’s history and purpose and then a section about Starfleet itself covering a lot of information over purpose, the academy, assignments and duties etc.

Then we get to the operations chapter, here we will learn about the system in more depth. The short version is that you roll 2 (sometimes more) D20 for a standard check, each dice that shows less that your relevant stat+skill (+/- Modifiers) total. In most cases a result under the total is a success and a 1 is two, if your character has a relevant focus though then each result lower the the discipline (which is the skill in this system) counts as two successes. A 20 creates a complication, which makes things more interesting.

You can also add extra dice to your roll in a number of ways, you can spend Momentum (an in game currency that is generated and spent by the PCs), you can add threat (a currency the GM can use to create or escalate challenges and threats), you can spend determination (which adds a single D20 that is set to a result of 1, characters have limited determination available but this is a strong move that can move things heavily in your favour) and finally there are a number of talents that add an extra D20 in specific circumstances.

If the roll results in an action that can generate an effect, like damage or armour, then it requires you to roll challenge dice, these are D6 where the result maps to:

D6 Result / Challenge Result
1 / 1
2 / 2
3 / 0
4 / 0
5 / 1, Plus Effect
6 / 1, Plus Effect

The challenge results are all added together and certain things can generate extra effect from each effect result you produce.

You can also get themed dice from the publisher that have D20s coloured themed to Science, Command or Operations and cool looking black sparkly D6s. Now this is totally a luxury item but as someone who has purchased quite a lot of things from Modiphius and has had more than one of these sets of dice included I can say that they are usually great dice, high quality and feel great to roll.

 

It’s worth taking a moment here to look at Momentum & Threat, two in game currencies that can be spent by both the GM & Players.

Momentum

Momentum is gained whenever a character completes a task with more successes than required. That generates one momentum per extra success. Certain traits and situations can also generate bonus momentum, but often with limits on what it can be spent on.

Momentum can be spent immediately or banked for later, generally it is used to expand or improve the effect of the roll, different challenges will have different options for spending momentum. Want to get that warp core repaired in hours rather than days, then spend momentum to reduce the time taken.

If it is not spent immediately then Momentum can be added to a group pool, this pool can hold up to 6 points of momentum and loses a point every time the scene changes. Momentum in this pool can be accessed by all characters and represents the benefits of collective success.

You can also spend momentum to have a bit of narrative control, there are some suggestions in the book but its largely down to a conversation between the GM & Players.

Threat

The other side of the coin, threat is used by the GM to cause all kinds of problems for the PCs, it lets you scale up threats, add reinforcements, mess with the environment and generally make things more interesting.

Threat is generated in a number of ways, Players can choose to add threat instead of spending momentum, NPCs can spend their momentum to add to the threat pool and especially dangerous or threatening situations may automatically create a point or two of threat. Want to take an away team onto the Borg Cube, cool but doing that generates 2 threat immediately.

There is one final in game currency which is Determination, characters start each session with one point of determination and can earn up to a maximum of three. Determination can be spent to add a D20 set to a result of 1 to any challenge, re-roll all dice in a pool, perform a second action while under pressure or immediately create an advantage in the current scene.

Moving on….

Looking at the rest of the book, there are all the things you would expect.

The Final Frontier chapter looks at new worlds, alien encounters and scientific phenomena and discoveries. This is the bread and butter of any exploration based Star Trek game and will feature in probably at least a couple of episodes of any campaign.

A chapter called ‘Conflict’ deals with both social and phsyical conflict. All your answers related to combat questions can be found here.

The Technology chapter covers all our Star Trek tech, tricorders, phasers and all the things that go into making the Star Trek universe as it is. This chapter leads straight into the chapter on space, here we get information on Starships, Starbases, Colonies and the rules for ship operations and combat. It also gives us a good list of Starfleet Ships of the Line as well as a good look at various alien ships.

There are then extensive chapters on gamesmastering which covers a lot of useful ground from character creation to rules management and creating missions and encounters.

The penultimate sections is a massive archive of aliens and adversaries, all the usual suspects are here and the system is simple enough that you can easily create your own as needed.

The final section is an adventure, which looks pretty good for a starting adventure.

You may have noticed that I have skipped the chapter on character generation. Well that is because, as is tradition, I am going to walk through the creation of an example character….

First up we’ll just list some assumptions. We’re going to create a character as if they were a member of a larger crew, we’re going to use the default setting options so we’re going to be right in the middle of the TNG timeline.

The game offers two paths for creating characters, which should come out with roughly the same power level, there is a Life Path based system and a Create in Play system. Now I love a lifepath character generation system so we’re totally doing that one.

The Lifepath character creation is broken down into seven steps.

Character Species
Environment – Where were you brought up?
Upbringing – What was that upbringing like?
Starfleet Academy – What did you study at the academy.
Career – Experienced or new officer?
Finishing Touches

You start with 7 in each attribute and 1 in each discipline.

Attributes
Control: 7
Daring: 7
Fitness: 7
Insight: 7
Presence: 7
Reason: 7

Disciplines
Command: 1
Conn: 1
Engineering: 1
Science: 1
Security: 1
Medicine: 1

Over the course of the lifepath you will gain 14 extra attribute points and 10 points in disciplines. Additionally you should expect to pick up a minimum of one trait (from their species), 4 values, 4 talents and 6 focuses.

Lets gets started; first thing we need is a concept. I’m going to go with a Bajoran Science Officer type.

That makes step one easy, species is Bajoran. Lets have a look at what that give us.

Bajorans gain +1 Control, Daring & Insight.

Their trait is:

“Bajoran. For obvious reasons, Bajorans tend to be hostile towards Cardassians, and resentful of those who are dismissive of, or turned a blind eye to, the suffering of the Bajoran people. While not all Bajorans are spiritual or religious to the same degree, most have a cultural understanding of the Prophets’ place in Bajoran society.”

Then we pick one talent from the two on offer. (This is one part that is a little disapointing to me as both the trait options available to Bajorans are related to their religion, surely Modiphius you could have done one that was more to do with their ability to survive trying and difficult circumstances)

Orb Experience – You have recieved a vision from the prophets via one of the orbs, this gives you an extra value related to that experience and the value can be more resilient to challenge.

Strong Pagh – Profound belief and faith in the Prophets, reduce the difficulty of tasks where you attempt to resist being coerced or threatened by 1.

Hmm. Tricky choices there.

I think I will take Orb Experience and add a value called “Change or Become Irrelevant”, when this character was younger he experienced a vision from an Orb during a museum visit which revealed to him a vision of Bajor hundreds of years in the future where the culture had become static and rote based. From this experience he has taken the lession that cultures must strive to change as much as they must respect their history.

Now we move on to…

Step 2 – Environment

Where was this character raised? Looking over the options I’m going to select the first option ‘Homeworld’, he was raised on Bajor during the Cardassian occupation.

We then add +1 to a single attribute that we already gained a +1 to in the previous step. Looking at the options I’m going to choose ‘Control’, growing up on the occupied homeworld he had to learn early on to keep a handle on his emotions to avoid the attention of the Cardassians.

Next we add a +1 to either Command, Security or Science. Clearly we pick Science.

Then we add a value.

Each species has a recommended value on the page relating to that species, the Bajoran one is ‘Faith in the Prophets’. That doesn’t really interest me, we already have one value related to the Prophets so lets take something a bit more interesting.

“Every Sentient has the right to Self Determination”

He believes strongly that every sentient life form has the right to determine its own fate and not be controlled or directed by another. Probably a reaction to the Cardassian occupation but should lead to some interesting situations in play.

Moving on….

Step 3 – Upbringing

How was he raised? Ok, now we have to think about some family history, the easy stereotype here would be to just pick the standard science & techn upbringing but that seems a touch predictable. I’m going to pick Business or Trade, his parents were business specialists and their position afforded them some protection during the occupation. But I’m going to take the ‘Rebelled against this upbringing’ option as he was more interested in research than trading.

So we add +1 Reason & +2 Insight, we get to pick a +1 to a skill (Science, Command or Engineering) this time I’m going to pick Engineering to represent time spent repairing things. We also get to add a focus here. I’m going to take Metallurgy as a focus, his family own a minerals business and he learnt a lot about the properties of metals and alloys.

Now we get to pick a talent. After some time looking over the talents list I’m going to take “Testing a Theory”; when attempting a test using Engineering or Science you get to add +1D20 to the roll as long as you have succeeded at a previous task in the same field. I like this, it encourages the right kind of action.

Step 4 – Starfleet Academy

So, because of the occupation it is unlikely that a young Bajoran has done the full term at the Academy so I’m going to treat this as a combination of further education and a final year or two at Starfleet Academy.

We first choose our study track at the academy, I’m going to pick Science. (Obviously)

First up we get three points to spend on attributes, adding either plus one to three different attributes or plus two to one and plus one to another. I’m going to add +2 to Reason and +1 to Presence, the intense study boosts the Reason stat and learning social skills is part of what further education is about.

Next we select Disciplines, we choose either Science or Medicine as a major (I’ll choose Science) and add +2 to it, then we select two minors and add +1, nothing can go over 4 here. I’m going to pick minors in Conn & Command, everyone needs to know something about ship operations and having a slightly better than base command skill would prove useful for leading away teams as well.

The next step is to select three Focuses, at least one of which has to be related to your primary area of study. I think I’ll take Warp Field Dynamics as my primary focus, things always go wrong with the Warp fields. For my second focus I’m going to take ‘Small Ships’, hopefully this will apply to shuttles and I will then get bonuses when flying or dealing with Shuttle Craft and other smaller ships. Finally I’m taking Spatial Phenomena as my last focus, weird things in space often come up and it makes for an interesting thing to study and a reason to fly around in a shuttle.

Now we pick a talent from the list. After looking over the options I’m going to take ‘Technical Expertise – Whenever you attempt a task assisted by the ships computers or sensors you may re-roll one d20 (which may be the ships die)’. I like the sound of that, Science officers spend a lot of time scanning things, that uses the sensors and a free re-roll is always useful.

Finally we gain another value. After some thought I’m going to add “Learn by Doing – This character is strongly in favour of field work and believes you learn more by interacting with the subject or area you study as much as is practically possible.”.

Onwards…..

Step 5 – Career

This is a pretty easy step, you choose your career stage here. Are you a young officer fresh out of the academy (Geordi La Forge at the beginning of ST:TNG ), an experienced officer (William Riker at the beginning of ST:TNG) or a veteren with a wealth of experience (Jean Luc Picard at the beginning of ST:TNG).

I’m going to pick ‘Young Officer’, it seems the most fitting as the Bajorans are a new(ish) addition to Star Fleet.

This means I have to take the Untapped Potential talent, the short version of which is that I am capped at 11 for stats and 4 on disciplines but can generate bonus momentum when buying dice with threat. You cannot progress beyond Lieutenant (Junior Grade) while you have this talent.

You also pick up another value, this one must relflect your inexperience. “Boundless Optimisim – You automatically assume the best in people and situations until proven otherwise.”.

Moving on…

Step 6 – Career Events

Two notable events have happened to you in your career so far, you get to roll or pick them both. Each event boosts an attribute and discipline as well as granting a relevant focus. We’re going to roll randomly.

First Roll is a 16. That gives ‘Discovers and Artefact’, you discover some kind of artefact or tech from a now extinct civilisation. You then work with the GM to determine what is was you discovered, what it does, does it still work and what do we know about the civilisation that made it.

Discovery: Ancient Subspace Gate.

An attempt by an ancient species to create a subspace gate for travel purposes, entry into subspace is extremely dangerous and the feedback from this machine blew up the moon it had been built on, it was discovered floating in an asteroid field.

Reactivation of the device created a semi-stable portal into subspace where members of the initial science team had become trapped, an encounter with hostile subspace entities forced the immediate closure of the gate which was then shipped back to Star Fleet Research & Development.

Assuming the gate can be re-opened study of the recordings and artefacts left behind by the science team could reveal a great deal about this civilisation to us, at the moment all that is known is that they were a bipedal species closer to a Tellarite than a Human who had reached a level of development where they would have qualified for contact.

We add +1 Reason, +1 Engineering and select the Computers Focus to represent skills gained writing an interface with this ancient tech.

Second Roll is an 8. That gives ‘Conflict with a Hostile Culture’, the character was involved in a major battle with a hostile power. Determine who the battle was with, why it occured, where it was fought and who won or lost.

While part of a scientific team conducting experiments into new forms of Warp Drive the ship they were on attracted the attention of a Borg scout team travelling in Transwarp Space. The Borg easily outmatched their small research vessel and boarded them, the crew were forced to abandon ship; not before using the ships systems to create a distraction though. They then lead the Borg on a hide and seek chase through an asteroid field and nebula, until help could arrive. It was a harrowing experience for all involved and they only barely escaped with their lives.

Add +1 Fitness, +1 Security and Shipboard Tactical Systems as a Focus.

Finally we move onto Finishing touches.

Step 7 – Finishing Touches

First we add a final value. “Nothing is Impossible – This character has learned through experience that nothing is truely impossible, it’s just a matter of time, knowledge and determination.”.

Second we check attributes, if any are above our cap (which is 11 due to untapped potential) we have to redistribute the points, then add +1 to two seperate attributes. I’m going to raise Daring to 9 & Fitness to 9 as well. This character is much more field research than anything else.

Third we check disciplines, basically the same but the cap is 4. Then add +1 to two seperate disciplines. I’m going to increase Conn & Security to 3 each, this represents an increase in capability and a willingness to get involved in away missions.

We are then asked to do a final check and fill in the remaining things.
Stress = Fitness + Security.
Damage Bonus = Security Discipline.
Department = Highest Discipline.
Rank & Role are determined by a group discussion.
Equipment is different, you get a Communicator and then other things based on role and department.

We then need to pick a name, there are example name tables included by species in the book. I’m picking Lathra Anaphis for this character, in the Bajoran style that is Family Name, Given Name.

Looing at the examples and the information on rank and role I’m picking Lieutenant Junior Grade for Rank and Science Officer for Role, not a department chief but someone who is part of the science compliment and is often nominated for away missions due to his willingness to go out and explore.

And now we are done.

Let’s review the character shall we…..

——————

Name: Lathra Anaphis
Species: Bajoran
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Environment: Home World
Upbringing: Business/Trade
Assignment: Science Team

Stress: 12
Damage Bonus: 3

Traits

“Bajoran. For obvious reasons, Bajorans tend to be hostile towards Cardassians, and resentful of those who are dismissive of, or turned a blind eye to, the suffering of the Bajoran people. While not all Bajorans are spiritual or religious to the same degree, most have a cultural understanding of the Prophets’ place in Bajoran society.”

Attributes
Control: 9
Daring: 9
Fitness: 9
Insight: 10
Presence: 8
Reason: 11

Disciplines
Command: 2
Conn: 3
Engineering: 3
Science: 4
Security: 3
Medicine: 1

Focuses
Computers
Metallurgy
Shipboard Tactical Systems
Small Ships
Spatial Phenomena
Warp Field Dynamics

Values

“Change or Become Irrelevant – From Orb – Believes that cultures must strive to change as much as respecting their roots.”

“Every Sentient has the right to Self Determination”

“Learn by Doing – This character is strongly in favour of field work and believes you learn more by interacting with the subject or area you study as much as is practically possible.”

“Boundless Optimisim – You automatically assume the best in people and situations until proven otherwise.”

“Nothing is Impossible – This character has learned through experience that nothing is truely impossible, it’s just a matter of time, knowledge and determination.”

Talents

Untapped Potential – Capped at 11 for stats and 4 on disciplines but can generate bonus momentum when buying dice with threat. You cannot progress beyond Lieutenant (Junior Grade) while you have this talent.

Testing a Theory – when attempting a test using Engineering or Science you get to add +1D20 to the roll as long as you have succeeded at a previous task in the same field.

Technical Expertise – Whenever you attempt a task assisted by the ships computers or sensors you may re-roll one d20 (which may be the ships die).

Orb Experience – You have recieved a vision from the prophets via one of the orbs, this gives you an extra value related to that experience and the value can be more resilient to challenge

Equipment

Communicator Badge
Tricorder
Phaser Type 1
Uniform

——————

Final thoughts, the character generation was fun and felt really like Star Trek, there are plenty of options there for players to create whatever they want to play and loads of room to tell great stories. The GM can really make the ship a part of the crew, I know we kind of skipped the ships part of the book here but that’s because I am yet to run the game and as soon as I actually get my physical copy and am able to run a session or two then I might post some more on it.

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