Star Trek Adventures Review

Star Trek RPG, Star Trek Adventures, Modiphius, Enterprise, Kirk, Picard

Any Grammar Nazi out there will happily tell you...sorry, tell you happily... that Star Trek’s famous line “To Boldy Go..” should in fact read “To Go, Boldly…” as one should never split one’s infinitives. It can be a tad painful.

Over the last few months I’ve been going, boldly or otherwise, to a fellow Trek nerd’s house to get stuck into the recent roleplaying game from Mōdiphiüs Entertainment with a few more of my regular gaming group to see what all the fuss is about. Paul, our GM, even offered to make some Tea, Earl Grey, hot. So, I shaved my head and made it so.

The version we feasted our eyes on was the full-blown super-duper turbo edition that came in a replica Borg cube, which was a wonder to behold, with a price tag to match. There is a lot in the box already, but there will be additional content forthcoming and there’s space in the cube for more rulebooks for you to assimilate. We’re just playing the core rulebook at the moment plus a few extras that our GM has dug up.

Star Trek RPG, Star Trek Adventures, Modiphius, Enterprise, Kirk, Picard

If you’re new to the Star Trek universe, then the first half of the core book is fluff, introducing you to the various species and factions that inhabit the Alpha Quadrant. Good background knowledge so you can tell the difference between a Klingon disruptor and Cardassian Kanar. If you’ve seen a couple of episodes of The Next Generation, you’ll probably be fine and know plenty about how the universe works.

Which brings me neatly into the build of the game. You can actually play in either of the Trek timelines – Original Series with the Constitution class Enterprise (although sadly you're not allowed to drive it) or in the Next Generation slot with the Galaxy, Intrepid or Defiant class ships among others. I requested the Defiant originally, but was told “no cloaking device” which dampened my spirits. That being said, there’s an awful lot of freedom in the game about what you want to be and what kind of ship you’re on, which is great, despite the GM not allowing me to kick it off with the Romulans on day one.

Star Trek RPG, Star Trek Adventures, Modiphius, Enterprise, Kirk, Picard

We decided on an Akira class vessel, the USS Pellew, with a very motley crew consisting of the ubiquitous Ensign, a rather cranky octogenarian Human Chief Engineer and an Andorian ship's Counselor with deep-seated emotional issues. A top-notch and not-at-all unstable crew held together by their Betazoid Captain (yours truly) who just happens to have a drinking problem. We chose the Akira as it’s a sideline ship (and rather good in a battle) but allowed all the characters we had chosen a place to grow. Something like the Defiant would have been less useful for scientists and explorers. Trigger happy nutters like me on the other hand would be well catered for.

Character creation works well, although there’s a lot of ways you can miss stats, traits and values so rather helpfully the rulebook includes a checklist to make sure you survived the Academy with all the correct parts. Characters have various stats; primarily Attributes and Disciplines are the numbers and combinations of these form a total skill against which you will face a challenge. The RPG uses Modiphius’ 2d20 system, roll two d20s by default and get equal to or lower than your combination and you earn a success. Different tests will need different numbers of successes and a roll of 1 will earn you two. A roll of 20 on the other hand provides a “complication” which the DM is free to exploit as they see fit. They may invoke a failure, or let you succeed at the cost of something else. I like the flexibility here and it provides a lot of scope for fun interaction, as well as creative thinking on both sides of the GM's screen.

Star Trek RPG, Star Trek Adventures, Modiphius, Enterprise, Kirk, Picard

One key point is Momentum and Threat. If you roll more successes in a test than you need, the group can take the excess as Momentum (maximum of six for the party) and spend it to add dice if you’re facing a particularly nasty test. Or you can allow the GM a Threat token if you have no Momentum to do the same thing – of course, this brings a smile to the GM’s face as they can store up their tokens to ruin your day later on. A nice “push your luck” element.

The rest of your character is made from the less well-defined Values, Talents and Focuses; all made from how you build your character’s history, not too dissimilar to character backgrounds in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. You can use these rather unspecific traits to good effect during the varying situations you’re thrown in to and the GM will choose whether they apply or not. They can really make the difference in a scrape. It turns out that Starship Recognition isn’t that useful when you’re in a bar-room punch up, but having a “mean right hook” does the job rather nicely. Even if it is against Starfleet Regulations.

Star Trek RPG, Star Trek Adventures, Modiphius, Enterprise, Kirk, Picard

The structure of the RPG is episodic in the sense that each session should cover a TV episode and each one is split into acts, much like the series. Although my rather deep knowledge of Romulan Warbird warp drives did result in us bypassing an entire act of our first session, much to the GM’s consternation. Frustrating for him, but it does permit and reward players’ knowledge of Trek, another point in the game’s favour. That said, being the captain I did feel that the game runs the risk of focussing on me a little more than the other characters, thankfully something our GM managed rather well. I didn’t want everyone being sidelined, so I sent them off on an away mission as I relaxed in the Big Chair, sipping a replicated Martini, allowing them to get stuck in.

So after five sessions, I can confidently say that I’m on board with this RPG and look forward to more adventures with Captain Cocktail zipping about the galaxy, coming in peace, shooting to kill and never violating the Prime Directive.

Well, not often anyway.

Normally this is the part of the review where we say we whether we have received a review copy of the game, and whereas we have indeed been provided with a review PDF from the kind people of Modiphius, we have also had access to our friend Paul's full-blown super-duper turbo edition.
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