Sunday, 11 September 2016

Star Trek Systems

As noted before, I started Star Trek gaming with the FASA set when a fellow gamer came to high school with a keenness for the setting. It’s a basic statline and percentage skills system - its standout section is using the separate starship combat game, which is great if you have a couple hours spare.

I was the captain of our first ship, but it never went to campaign due to a folder getting lost. We played a fair number of the FASA adventures though, cementing my opinion that a three to four hour session can cover about as much plot as a forty-five minute TV episode, and that adventures designed for a session or two are a good deal but hard to do.

We advanced through to The Next Generation era despite FASA losing the licence after just a couple books, with the odd game of a term or an academic year on into college and past. The GM being mostly a Deep Space Nine fan showed through in adventures in that era highlighting political complexities, and one campaign set around overseeing an area of space annexed and then abandoned by the Dominion-backed Cardassians. So naturally I played a Bajoran with a chip on his shoulder...

Then the Last Unicorn version came out, and I think we had one campaign of that. I liked the slight variation of focus for each series getting a rulebook, with technobabble tables and the like, but the core system didn’t work for us.

It wasn’t until some years after it was published that we tried the Decipher version. Even using a cheat sheet, character generation made one of the group cry. After that, it was okay...

There are of course various unofficial RPGs reflecting the setting in various ways. Starships & Spacemen was the first, and its recent second edition features a percentile weird forehead table. These run the gamut from hundreds of pages like Far Trek to one page like Lasers And Feelings.

The biggest not-Trek-honest gaming setting is Star Fleet Battles, the result of some careless licensing in the 70s allowing a games company to put out its own wargames and RPGs in a variant of the classic universe. It has resulted in oddities like a RPG about Prime Teams who go on away missions instead of the command crew (one of those more sensible but less TV-friendly changes fans come up with) which also has d20 and GURPS versions, and Klingons who have member species including what appear to be gorillas.

Personally, as of 2009 I wanted to run it with Cinematic Unisystem. Half of the short skill list I made up was department titles...

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