Hubbard’s World: Outpost Laertes: A Fantastic Worlds Star Trek AAR

Captain’s Log: Stardate 1315.9: We have received word that Federation Outpost Laertes, a science station on the newly-discovered Hubbard’s World in the Klingon neutral zone, has gone silent. We arrived in the system to discover a Klingon battle cruiser in orbit around the planet. Our repeated hails to the outpost remain unanswered. Of course, the Klingons deny any knowledge of the outpost’s fate and would like us to leave. Commander Spock, Dr. McCoy and I, accompanied by Ensigns Gatwick and Heathrow from Starfleet security, are beaming down to the planet’s surface to investigate. Chief Engineer Scott has been given command of Enterprise in my absence.

Outpost Laertes looked abandoned. Vines and creepers already encroached on the small clearing where the science team’s supplies still lay neatly stacked in crates and barrels. The jungle seemed poised to quickly reclaim the ground where the Federation outpost stood. A standard Starfleet communications array, clearly damaged and inoperative, sat atop the basic, prefab building that served as both laboratory and living quarters to the missing scientists.

Spock regarded his tricorder. “Fascinating.”

Kirk and McCoy traded glances, but the Vulcan didn’t elaborate. “Well, don’t keep us in suspense, Spock,” said the Captain. “What is it?”

“Life sign readings are overwhelmingly vegetable in origin. I estimate some 97.56%”

McCoy’s uneasy gaze took in the vast jungle around them. “You don’t say. That’s fascinating, all right.”

“There is no trace of the science team,” continued Spock, coolly ignoring the doctor, “at least not in the immediate area.”

“Jim! Look!”

Kirk whirled and focused his attention where McCoy indicated. Four bipedal, plantlike creatures began to shamble out of the surrounding jungle. They looked like walking flowers, but much more menacing. They began to converge on the clearing.

“It’s like the jungle is coming alive,” said McCoy.

“Incorrect, Doctor,” said Spock. “These beings were certainly alive prior to our arrival, and did not spontaneously animate, as you suggest.”

McCoy flushed angrily. Before he could respond, Kirk stepped forward. “I am Captain James T. Kirk of the United Federation of Planets. We come in peace and mean you no harm.” In response, one of the plant-things ejected a stream of liquid in Kirk’s direction. He quickly stepped aside as it splashed on one of the supply crates nearby. Immediately, it began to smoke and hiss as the outer casing began to dissolve.

“Well, that’s darn rude,” said McCoy.

“Rude perhaps, though likely unintentionally so,” said Spock. “There is no indication that attempts at verbal communication should be effective, or that these beings possess any sense of hearing, at least not in the way we understand.” The plant things crept closer. “Phasers on stun, Captain?”

“When was the last time you stunned a houseplant, Spock?” asked McCoy. The Vulcan raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

“Let’s not do anything we regret,” said Kirk, adjusting his phaser. “Low heat setting should be enough to show them we can defend ourselves if need be.”

Scenario: The Enterprise crew beams down to the site of the science outpost to find it deserted. They must search for clues to discover what happened to the science team. While they do so, they are attacked by some of the plant creatures of Hubbard’s World. Meanwhile, a Klingon spy is hiding near the camp, hoping to learn everything he can before he makes his escape, both about the Federation technology that now lies abandoned and about the landing party from the Enterprise.

Victory Conditions: The Enterprise crew must find three clues in order to discover what happened to the science team and in order to discover the strange energy readings. For every clue the Enterprise team discovers, the Klingon spy automatically gets one piece of information that is of value to his superiors. Once all clues have been found, the first team to move all the surviving models off the nearest board edge wins the scenario. (Only the Klingon spy needs to leave the board for the Klingon player to end the scenario.)

The Enterprise crew beams down to the science outpost.

Turn 1: The Enterprise crew gains initiative. McCoy activates first, and heads immediately towards the building. He activates the encounter marker there and discovers a clue: the remains of a Federation science officer, Ensign Jorgensen, one of the botanists assigned to the science team. He’s been partially dissolved. McCoy passes his Will check, and as a result he doesn’t have to spend next turn throwing up. One of the plant creepers spits its corrosive liquid at Ensign Gatwick, but misses him by a country mile.

Spock activates and heads into the jungle. He passes his Brawn check and is not entangled by the dense foliage. He activates an encounter marker (no effect). Another plant creeper spits at Spock, but the Vulcan ducks aside. Kirk uses his ability, Voice of Command, to make Ensign Gatwick act next. Gatwick fires at a shambling plant creature, but fails to hit.

A plant creeper creeps closer. Kirk shows Gatwick how it’s done. He steps forward and blasts one of the shambling plant creatures that spit at his first officer, killing it. Ensign Heathrow takes aim at an approaching plant creature, but he misses.

Turn two starts off with one of the plant creepers spitting its caustic juices all over Ensign Gatwick, who lets out a Wilhelm scream and dies horribly. Oh, the humanity!

Kirk uses his Voice of Command ability again, this time to allow Ensign Heathrow to go first. He spends a Hero Point, takes a deep breath, and vaporizes the nearest plant creeper to his position.

The plant creeper nearest to Dr. McCoy attacks, but the doctor has no intention of ending up like poor Jorgensen. The plant misses, McCoy returns fire and kills it. Kirk fires at the plant creeper that killed Ensign Gatwick and kills it, too. Spock heads deeper into the jungle and activates another encounter marker. Another clue! Tricorder readings indicate a strange energy coming from farther off in the jungle. All the vegetation on the planet seems imbued with this strange energy. Did the science team go investigate?

Turn 3: No plant creepers remain, so the Enterprise crew has the run of the board. Ensign Heathrow heads off into the jungle, but fails his Brawn test and gets entangled in the thick vegetation before going too far.

Dr, McCoy stumbles directly into a slumbering plant beast! This one’s huge, and it’s not happy!

The Plant Beast wastes no time. It swats Dr. McCoy hard, knocking him back and inflicting one wound!

McCoy is down, but not out. Spock activates next, moving back into the clearing and firing his phaser. He hits the Plant Beast squarely, inflicting a wound. The Plant Beast barely feels it! Kirk fires at the Plant Beast, wounding it; then immediately spends 2 Hero Points to take a Heroic Action, charging forward and firing again for another wound! Now the Plant Beast takes notice!

Turn 4: The Plant Beast gets initiative and charges Kirk, but Kirk spends another Hero Point and manages to evade the Beast’s grasping tendrils. Spock fires again but misses; McCoy tries to administer aid to himself but is too stunned and fails his roll. Kirk fires at point-blank range and finally kills the huge Plant Beast. Ensign Heathrow manages to extricate himself from the clinging foliage, but blunders into a spore cloud and is knocked unconscious for 2 turns!

Turn 5: Once again, with no opposition, the Enterprise crew has board control. McCoy moves into the jungle to revive Ensign Heathrow. He is successful! Spock and Kirk likewise enter the jungle, heading for encounter markers. Spock finds nothing, but Kirk discovers a final clue: the signs of several humanoids passing into the jungle is a clear indication that the science team went in search of the strange energy readings. The vegetation seems to have grown back abnormally fast. If not for their tricorders, the crew may have missed the science team’s tracks altogether!

At that very moment, the Klingon spy makes his move! Armed with the information on the Enterprise crew and their plans to seek the energy source themselves, he quickly attempts to race back to his superiors!

Turn 6: The Klingon spy gains initiative and flees into the jungle. He passes his Brawn test and is not entangled, but is slowed by the dense foliage. Spock activates and attempts to flank him. He fires at the Klingon, but misses. Kirk once again uses his Voice of Command to order Ensign Heathrow to pursue. The Ensign gives chase and fires, but he misses! Kirk all-out sprints into the clearing, trying to get as close to the Klingon as he can. He spends two Hero Points to take another Heroic Action, and fires, but he misses his mark! (Looks like they all need to go back to Starfleet marksman school!) McCoy chases after Ensign Heathrow, but gets entangled in the brush.

Turn 7: The bad luck continues for Starfleet this turn. In a last-ditch effort, Kirk commands Ensign Heathrow to take the shot! Sadly, the Ensign misses again, which allows the Klingon to slip away into the jungle!

Victory to the Klingons!

Analysis: The rules changes I made worked well and sped things up considerably. Not having to roll for wound location and keep track of deteriorating abilities made each shot count.

My first thought was that the scenario favors the Klingon player, since the Klingons only need to move one model off the board to win. Additionally, until the spy is revealed, Starfleet takes all the lumps from the plant creatures. But, considering the Starfleet player can just shoot the spy and win by default, this balances things out a bit. Turns out in my game Starfleet got the yips when it counted most and missed the Klingon with every shot!

I built the characters using a variety of archetypes from both Fantastic Worlds and .45 Adventure 2nd Edition, which was the core rules engine I used for the game mechanics. The Special Abilities listed are taken with my rules changes in mind, so nothing that would require wound location or stat changes. I also changed “Ray Gun” to “Phaser” and “Blade” to “Melee”, purely for thematic reasons.

Captain Kirk (Grade 3): DR 5 Brains 4 Will 4 Brawn 3 Guts 10 Phaser 4 Melee 6 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Brawler +2d10, Pugilist +1, Leadership, Tactics +1d10, Nerves of Steel +2, Voice of Command, Quick Recovery, Heroic Action

Mr. Spock (Grade 2): DR 5 Brains 6 Will 5 Brawn 5 Guts 7 Phaser 3 Melee 3 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Genius +2, Observant, Immune to Fear, Incredible Will +1, Nerve Pinch (Dirty Tricks), Undying Loyalty, Well-Prepared

Dr. McCoy (Grade 2): DR 4 Brains 5 Will 5 Brawn 3 Guts 8 Phaser 3 Melee 3 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Genius +1, Leadership, Medical Knowledge, Nerves of Steel +2, Observant, Undying Loyalty

Starfleet Security (Grade 1): DR 4 Brains 2 Will 2 Brawn 3 Guts 6 Phaser 3 Melee 2 Dodge 2 Speed 5 Sharpshooter +1d10, Tactics +1d10, Devotion, Nerves of Steel +1

Klingon Spy (Grade 1) DR 4 Brains 2 Will 3 Brawn 4 Guts 4 Phaser 2 Melee 3 Dodge 3 Speed 5 Brawler +1d10, Ferocious, Fencing +1d10, Bruiser +1

Up next: Race to the Source!

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