Throw another of my 2019 Resolutions in the “done” pile. I got my friends together and we played an actual game!
One of my best friends lives on the other side of the country and doesn’t come back here very often. Usually he makes it home for the holidays, which doesn’t leave much time for gaming. But this time he made it back for a vacation. We made a point to set up a game night, and I managed to get three other guys together too! The game: the new Star Trek Adventures by Modiphius.
Being the Game Master, I decided to set the game during the Original Series era, and the players would take o the roles of Kirk and the Enterprise crew. Since we only had a few hours to play and only one copy of the rules, making original characters would have been silly and would have eaten up a huge chunk of our time. With this in mind I also decided on using a published adventure…but rather than use any of Modiphius’s adventures (many of which are quite good), I chose to adapt an old FASA Star Trek module to suit my purposes.
I chose The Vanished, by Guy McLimore and Greg Pohlein (credit where credit is due) which was actually designed with the Enterprise crew in mind. To my knowledge, none of my friends had ever played this adventure (we never played the old Star Trek RPG back when), so they would be unfamiliar with it.
Here’s the plot as originally written: The Enterprise passes by FDR 39, a deep space research station in the midst of a magnetic storm. They hail the station a a courtesy and get a bored response. In the middle of the conversation, communications abruptly cease. But the call isn’t dropped; the person who was speaking just…vanishes! Naturally, the Enterprise goes over to investigate…
What happened? Well, one of the corporations aboard the station was doing some research on a brand new kind of transporter. It just so happens that during a test of the transporter beam, some unknown aliens with an unpronounceable name (let’s just call them space amoebas, because that’s what I did) gained access to the station and caused a power short. This resulted in the transporter beam sweeping through the entire station, disintegrating all the people aboard. Lucky for them, their transporter signatures are still contained in the computer, so they can be restored…if the Enterprise crew can figure that out and deal with the aliens…
While this gives the landing party some clear objectives (investigate the station, deal with the amoebas, restore the transporter patterns), there’s not really much for the crew aboard the ship to do. At least not as the adventure was originally written. So I decided to add some of my own touches. First, the magnetic storm increases, making transport and communication between the ship and the landing party impossible for part of the adventure. This happens right around the time the landing party first discovers the aliens. (Too bad they can’t warn the Enterprise…)
To make matters worse, another ship arrives, filled with Orion pirates disguised as corporate employees. They’re here to steal the transporter tech with the help of an inside man, but they weren’t expecting to find their man disintegrated and the Enterprise in orbit around FDR 39. Still, they try to bluff the Enterprise while sending their own team to the station to retrieve the tech.
Once aboard the station, the landing party and the Orions have to deal with the aliens. But the Orions only want the tech, and seize the first chance they can to steal it and get away. Without it, the transporter patterns of all the people aboard the station can’t be restored, so the characters need that tech too…
Meanwhile, in orbit, a couple more of the aliens gain access to the Enterprise. Since the crew aboard have no idea about the aliens, they’re in the dark about how to deal with them. While the ship’s crew tries to repel the space amoebas, the Orions on the station either get control of the transporter tech and make a run for it (cue starship combat), or fail to get the tech, but still try to make a run for it (cue starship combat).
So how did it turn out? Obviously, I’m not going to blog a seven hour rpg session, that would just be dumb. But I will share some highlights…
The landing party was made up of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and two uncontrolled supporting characters, Lt. Suvek and Crewman Ramirez, both security officers (redshirts). This left Sulu in command of the Enterprise, along with Uhura, Chekov and Nurse Chapel, as well as several supporting characters, most notably Chief Specialist J’Zhara, an Andorian female engineer.
As you might expect, the security officers met with misfortune. Lt. Suvek wandered off to investigate a noise and fell prey to one of the space amoebas early. This prompted the crew to investigate, and in so doing they discovered the aliens for themselves. While fighting off a bunch of them, one of the amoebas was about to engulf Spock, when Crewman Ramirez somehow got in the way…
Of course, Kirk and the Orion pirate leader (disguised as corporate employee) had a romantic flirtation pretty much throughout the entire evening, which annoyed Bones and made Spock’s player delight in ruining the moment by constantly interjecting his scientific observations and theories at inopportune times. (I suppose I should clarify that the Orion pirate leader was female, but not an Orion. Still, she led a bunch of Orions.) Fun stuff.
The most surprising moment of the night was when the Orion ship finally fired on the Enterprise and made a run for it, Kirk and the landing party was still aboard the station and Sulu was dealing with the aliens in the Enterprise shuttle bay. This left Lt. Uhura in command of the Enterprise, as she was the ranking officer on the bridge! She wasted no time in pursuing the Orions and locked a tractor beam on them, preventing their escape! Considering she never did anything remotely as interesting on the TV series, this was pretty awesome!
Speaking of the shuttle bay, Sulu and company were having a hard time with one of the space amoebas. They opened fire on it and failed to do any damage at all. Then Nurse Chapel, of all people, stepped up and vaporized the alien without any problem whatsoever.
Finally, as any GM knows, your players will throw a wrench into any plans you are foolish enough to make. In this case, you would expect the story to unfold something like: board the station; discover the transporter accident; deal with the aliens; deal with the pirates; fix the broken power relay; save the station personnel by restoring their transporter signatures; capture the Orion vessel. The end.
Instead, it was: board the station, encounter the aliens, flirt with the Orion pirate captain, fix the power relay, inadvertently help the Orions steal the transporter tech from right under your nose, discover the transporter malfunction, chase the pirates, capture the Orion vessel, get the transporter tech back, and (eventually) save the station personnel by restoring their transporter signatures. The end.
I like Star Trek: Adventures, although I will say there’s a lot to keep track of. Seeing how it was my first time running the system, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do everything right. It was a fun time, and it was great to see some of my old friends around the gaming table again. (One of our players hadn’t played a game in over twenty years!) I’m hoping we get to play more often, possibly with original TNG-era characters. Fingers crossed!