Thoughts on Final Frontier Gaming
It's been a very long time since I've played a Star Trek RPG - around a dozen years I'd estimate. I'd flirted with the idea of playtesting the new Star Trek RPG but we were in the middle of a campaign I was rather enjoying. With Star Trek Discovery about to premier I've been flipping through some of my old Star Trek stuff as well as the new RPG.
There's a lot to recommend the Star Trek universe for RPGs. The original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation are great examples of episodic adventures. While I often dream of a 200-part campaign of tightly interlinked adventures, reality tends to make such things difficult in the extreme. A Star Trek campaign offers characters a mobile "town" that can visit adventure locations. One adventure can be high-octane adventure, the next can be an exercise in diplomacy, the next a murder mystery.
Deep Space Nine showed that a 173-part campaign is possible in the setting of Star Trek, as an outpost becomes the flashpoint for conflicts that eventually leads to a major war. However, like other Star Treks, it still offers a wide variety of adventure possibilities. It also opens up the types of characters one can play.
Star Trek games also have their challenges as well, probably a large part of the reason I've not played in a while. Players are far less cooperative than characters in a television show. The technology of Star Trek is very powerful and, if used intelligently, can serve to make creating and running adventures more challenging than it is in other settings. The transporter is probably the classic example, functioning as the ultimate get-out-of-jail card - "transporter interference" becomes a rather annoying phrase. Also, Star Trek has been rather inconsistent with just how useful sensors are but they are powerful devices that players will rightly want to make good use of.
I've only given the new Star Trek game from Modiphius a cursory scan - it looks well done. One thing I'm curious about is how well it covers realizing the tropes of the Star Trek setting. I've a hunch that a strong injection of narrative rules so as to better simulate television show is a useful tool in such a game.
I do find myself having a nagging desire to try out some Star Trek again at some point. I've been pretty deep in research papers for my current class at grad school (the fun of being a part-time student) but I hope to find some time to do a deep dive into the Modiphius rules in the near future.