Gimme That Star Trek Ep.28: Role-Playing Games

Siskoid has only ever run one of the tabletop Star Trek RPGs, so he calls in Ryan Blake, who’s played the rest, for a good honest talk about each one’s positives and negatives, and about the Trek role-playing experience. It’s not your garden variety space opera, you know! And the game must reflect that.

Listen to Episode 28 below! And check out the picture gallery HERE.

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Credits:
“Star Trek Theme” by Alexander Courage, with the Irredeemable Shagg on vocals. End theme: “Deep Space Nine Theme” by Dennis McCarthy.

Bonus clips from: Star Trek The Next Generation’s “The Big Goodbye”, starring Patrick Stewart; “Star Trek: Generations” by David Carson, starring William Shatner.

And thanks for leaving a comment!

12 responses to “Gimme That Star Trek Ep.28: Role-Playing Games

  1. Much like Hero Points, I didn’t know half of what you were talking about, but still was able to follow and enjoy the show nontheless. I did know a lot of “filler” Trek history came from these games, and DC’s Who’s Who seemed to be full of it.

    A more bloodthirsty, militaristic Trek makes sense during the Harve Bennet years. And it also makes sense the game got cancelled as the touchy feely humanist era of TNG began.

    Fascinating!

    Chris

  2. Another great episode, gentlemen. I’m not terribly familiar with Star Trek RPGs, so I appreciated the overview of the different versions that are out there. I did have a childhood friend, who owned the FASA game, and I would flip through the game books from time to time.

    I have to say that I love games that incorporate some sort of life path system. The one with which I’m most familiar is another FASA game, MechWarrior 3rd edition. I can spend hours experimenting with different life path choices when trying to develop a character concept. Since I don’t really play any of the RPGs I own, having a fun character creation mechanic is a big plus for me.

  3. Fun Fact – The Decipher game was what we used to create our characters for Tales of the Seventh Fleet. Being role-players by nature, we needed to know what each character was good/bad at and what weaknesses they might have. That’s how my character, Lupia, ended up being from Sherman’s Planet. He knew how to use Klingon weapons but hated Klingons, so that back story just fit.


    channels/totsf

  4. I’ve owned the FASA game (first AND second editions) for many years, but haven’t even thought about them for years now. This episode prompted me to pull those out of storage, and specifically to have a look at the TNG First Year Sourcebook (was it really the last thing that FASA put out? I never knew that!). On pretty much the first page of text, it offers this disclaimer:

    “FASA’s initial roleplaying game and supplements provided information about a fictional universe that was not being further developed on television and so could be described completely without fear of contradicting future changes. The Next Generation is not that way at all…” (it goes on to comment how future developments may contradict what the sourcebook suggests. Indeed, the page immediately preceding, above the indicia, specifically says “Some materials in this book… may be invalidated by later episodes of STAR TREK: The Next Generation.” Oddly, however, it doesn’t quite seem to recognize that those future developments may not only contradict the TNG Sourcebook, but indeed much of what FASA had previously done with their TOS materials.)

    This sourcebook has a copyright date of 1989, and I am reminded that more time has passed *since* then than the entire franchise’s lifespan to that point. It’s small wonder that fans of today might have a different understanding of Trek’s history than folks did back then.

  5. Hey Guys,

    Ah – fond memories. I’ve played and run games in both FASA & LUG and gotten a kick out of each. If given the choice to use again, I’d go with the FASA system, even though my games were more role playing and exploratory than militaristic. Their modules were great springboards to launch other ideas.

    Yes, there is the delegation problem. I’ve found there are three ways to address that. One is to make the captain an NPC. That works if the captain is the “always on the bridge” type.

    The second is similar to what y’all laid out with the ensigns, but have 1 bridge crew character, and one underling.

    A third option is to go with a smaller ship. The TOS enterprise had a crew of 430. If you go with a ship with a crew of less than 100, everyone has to pitch in. Granted, the “captain” may only be a Lt Cmd., but everyone is involved.

    As far as skills go, having a skill heavy game is a lot of work for the GM. The players have to be familiar with they’re characters, but the GM needs to build the scenario so there is a way for a character to address the problem. That may mean prompting character X to make a roll in skill y. If a character has a skill, at some point it should come in handy. That sometimes requires some creativity on the part of the GM.

    Lethality – Yep. If you get into combat it can be lethal. I gave my players a gentle reminder by having them have a contingent of 5 cadets on their ship. And when combat came around one of the cadets got killed (random choice). Though it did make things interesting when that random cadet corpse happened to have been Admiral Carrington’s grandchild.

    Want to encourage role play? Run a session with personnel evaluations. Who actually deserves to move up from Ens. to Lt Jg? Sure, Lt Crackshot is a great marksman, but does she follow orders? Is she upholding the prime directive? Does she get along well with other crew members? Do her decisions make sense? I found that a great way to get player back into “Trek” when their character concept may start to wander out of genre.

  6. The FASA game will always have a place in my heart. I thought it strange that John Ford’s Klingons were wholly included, but Diane Duane’s Romulans were not. Regardless, the game provided a ton of backstory to the universe in addition to the novels and comics of the day. The Federation and Star Trek IV sourcebooks remain (to me anyway) as remarkable references that I still consult to this day. In 2006, the Star Trek Legacy video game included several FASA Romulan and Klingon ships—looks like the developers were fans too.

    Last Unicorn system’s wealth of supplements added interesting depth to the 24th-century mythos, but I felt it was a rather clunky system for all the reasons mentioned in the podcast. An interesting note with Last Unicorn is that the Andorian sourcebook, Among the Clans, provided some of the basis for the Andorians as portrayed in Enterprise. Series producer Manny Coto adopted the book’s concepts of an icy Andoria and rules for ritual combat.

    The Modiphius game is intriguing, but I haven’t yet had a chance to look into it. The chances of actually playing are slim, but I’m curious to see how the writers and developers have added to the expanded Trek universe.

  7. Even though I haven’t played a RPG since the mid-80s (anyone up for some Car Wars?), I really enjoyed this episode. It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who had a bunch of FASA Star Trek material without ever having played the game. Those books were (and still are) fun immerse yourself in, and I loved all the imagination and world-building that went into them.

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