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Category: Star Trek (Page 3 of 3)

Star Trek Adventures Playtest Update: Closed Beta Testing

sta-tos-2_1_origSo, looks like the upcoming Star Trek playtest will be closed, not open, so even if you’re signed up, there’s no guarantee you’ll be in the playtest. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed! Supposedly surveys will go out around two weeks after GenCon, and the playtest will start sometime in Sept., with all dates subject to change. Here’s what Modiphius said on their forums:

There will be a play test once we put rules to paper. Right now we’re concerned with what does everyone want. The play test will be conducted like all of our play tests, pdf made available to those in the program. These are not open play tests but only for those who are approved. Each version or two there will be a survey.


2d20 Conan Game Shows Promise for Star Trek Adventures

I was run down today due to allergies so Mason offered to run a one-shot of the Conan 2d20 system. I was particularly interested to see how the 2d20 system played. My assumptions about the game from a read through (see my prior post) turned out to be more or less correct. I was a bit nervous that the damage calculations (which use a dice pool system similar to Mouseguard, Lady Blackbird, WEG d6 and others) would be slow or awkward, but after a couple of combat rounds it was really fast. We had only two players and faced 3 opponents in each combat, but combat rounds averages < 10 minutes per round even with our rules lookups (which were many).

I loved this system! Mason is a great GM. I am now VERY excited about the Star Wars game as this will be an excellent system choice I think!


Star Trek Adventures 2d20 Review Based on Quickstart Read-through

sta-tng-1_origIn anticipation of the Star Trek Adventures RPG from Modiphius, I downloaded and read both the Infinity and Conan Quickstart PDFs from Modiphius to get a sense of how the 2d20 mechanics work. I’ll post more after I actually get to run and play in 2d20 games, but I’ve got some thoughts after a read-through that I wanted to post (mostly based on the Conan RPG version).

First off, I’m IMMENSELY excited about the 2d20 mechanics of the upcoming Star Trek Adventures RPG. The closest game I can compare it to is Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, which is not surprising since game design Jay Little designed them both.

One caveat: all the 2d20 mechanics below are subject to change based on how Modiphius implements 2d20 for Star Trek.

Here’s a quick summary of the system from Modiphius:

The 2d20 system is a dynamic, narrative system, designed to produce varied and interesting results from dramatic and action-packed situations. Characters roll two d20s, attempting to roll as low as possible on each one – the more dice that roll low, the more successes the character scores.

Tasks will require one or more successes to be successful, and any successes scored beyond that minimum become Momentum, which can be spent to achieve a variety of advantageous effects. However, this can come at a cost: characters who wish to succeed can push their luck, rolling extra d20s to boost their chances of success and the Momentum they generate. However, each extra d20 comes from the character’s resources – such as stocks of arrows – or adds to a pool of Doom that represents all the things that can go wrong in an adventure, which the GM can spend to complicate adventures and scenarios and make the characters’ lives interesting.

The game has a nice ‘best of’ approach that incorporates mechanics seen in traditional games like D&D & Traveller, while also pulling in nice modern innovations from story games like Fate and Cortex Plus. I’ll list out some key mechanics and point out the game systems were I’ve previously seen the game mechanics.

Attributes & Skills. 2d20 has 7 attributes (similar to D&D and Traveller which have 6-7). To this you add your Skill Expertise, which sets your target number for success. Very familiar and proven.

Armor and Courage can soak damage. I like that extra ‘soaking’ step which I first say in Chaosium’s Stormbringer RPG from the 80s.

There are two Stress tracks (Vigor and Resolve) which spill over to 2 Harm tracks which roughly feel like Fate’s Physical and Mental stress/consequences mechanic.

Talents equate to Stunts or Feats and I expect will feel like Edge of the Empire’s Talent Trees.

There are three spendable point systems.

Fortune Points feel like a nice mashup of Savage Worlds bennies (awarded for cool or entertaining roleplaying) and Fate Points (spending for things which include minor narrative declarations).

Momentum and Doom are player and GM facing token pools which have an economy — players and the GM make choices which effect both pools. Feels a lot like the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Force Points with points flowing from player to the GM.

In general I find token-based games cool in that I can use themed tokens to accessorize the game and increase the flavor of the genre at the table.

Turn order is akin to Cortex Plus in what some people call Popcorn Initiative. Players always go first but choose among themselves who goes in what order. GM characters go last unless they spend Doom points to interrupt and go earlier. I like that style; works great to encourage team-ups and group strategy while reducing time to deal cards or roll dice to determine turn order.

Battlemats are semi-abstracted and use Fate’s notion of Zones with a bit of 13th Age Engaged/Near/Far mechanics to quickly determine ranges and movement without counting squares. Will be curious to see if Star Trek Adventures keeps this approach given they have promised terrain tiles in their product line.

Important to me is that the 2d20 system uses d20 and d6 dice only, and doesn’t rely on color (I’m color blind; this was a show-stopper for me running Edge of the Empire which I otherwise found to be a fantastic system).

Rolling low is better, and a 20 on a d20 means something bad happens. I love this mechanic from Edge of the Empire as it really drives story in a way few other games can.

Lastly, the core thing which marks this system (for good or ill) is that it, like Star Wars: Edge of the Empire or Firefly: Cortex Plus, Star Trek Adventures promises to be a Story Game system which has back-end crunch to keep players engaged as they level up and play over the long run. Unlike story games like Fate which feel lacking after a dozen or so games to those players who feel the need to constantly level and get mechanical improvement, 2d20 promises to have enough fiddly bits to keep power and tactical games engaged for the long haul.

The downside is that it’s not a straightforward and simple as a game like Fate. I predict Star Trek Adventures will be overly crunchy for one-shots or short mini-campaigns. What it will be a good fit for are long term games which have the story game core game flow while keeping the ‘game’ part of the campaign constantly interesting and growing.

I therefore expect Star Trek Adventures will be great for multi-year play, but overkill for one-shots.

In conclusion, I’m excited! Looking forward to the beta test and organized play.

Star Trek Adventures!


I am a huge Star Trek fan, and I am very eagerly looking forward to this game. They have playtest registration in August, and if they have playtest packets and adventures by September, it could be that I would like to try running this system. Maybe as a Ragnarok Group thing, or in Thursday one-shot opportunities. System looks like it has potential — sounds like the narrative style that I really love but with the back-end crunch for players to keep it interesting beyond the first dozen games. Basically, Edge of the Empire but without issues for color-blind GMs, which makes sense, since the same guy that designed Star Wars Edge of the Empire (Jay Little) is designing the Star Trek implementation of the 2d20 system. 🙂

Links to find out more:

  • Modiphius’ Chris Birch Talks About The New STAR TREK ADVENTURE GAME!!
  • After Over A Decade, Here Comes A Brand New STAR TREK RPG!
  • Here-Comes-A-Brand-New-STAR-TREK-RPG!#.V4-Wb1f5xBw
    2d20 For Infinity |
  • A review/description of Modiphius’ 2d20 system, the engine for their new CONAN
  • New Star Trek RPG Coming from Modiphius!!

Star Trek 2d20 rules will be slightly different, but to get a taste of the system and for the Star Trek production values, check this out:

  • INFINITY RPG FREE Quickstart – Modiphius | Free Products | INFINITY |


Star Trek TOS: The God of War

Last night’s Star Trek game was one of the most enjoyable games I’ve run in a long time! Partly it was my own love of the Star Trek setting, partly it was the enthusiasm of the players (notably Robert with his props and wardrobe), and partly it was the cinematic nature of the Fate RPG which I think was a great fit for this setting.

The Characters

Lt. Cmdr. T'shani

Lt. Cmdr. T’shani

We had the following characters:

  • Capt. Lorn Harper (Human, Commanding Officer) — played by Robert
  • Cmdr. Arlin Cross (Human, 1st Officer) — played by Mason
  • Lt. Cmdr. Mac’Vor (Half-Vulcan, Chief Engineer) — played by Todd
  • Lt. Kelly Bishop (Human, Comm Officer) — played by Martin

We also had one notable NPC — Lt. Cmdr. T’shani (Vulcan, Chief Medical Officer) — who for some reason received a lot of attention in the game. 🙂

The Story

The story opened on Stardate 41661.7, where the U.S.S. Ares was exploring an uncharted system on the fringe of Federation space.

USS Ares 1

U.S.S. Ares

Energy signatures indicated a recent battle. The crew of the Ares investigated and learned that a Human-looking peaceful race called the Coborati were attacked by a warlike neighboring species called the Bellani. The Bellani were 3 meters tall with soft features and elongated necks and limbs, led by a mysterious figure called “The Oracle” who was said to be their “God of War”.

After a starship battle with the Bellani, chief medical officer Lt. Cmdr. T’shani, along with a few other crew, are captured by one the Bellani ships which then jumps to warp.

The U.S.S. Ares then travels to the nearby planet Cobor. The Federation crew hatched a plan to use a captured Bellani scout ship to infiltrate the Bellani homeworld, rescue T’shani and her companions, and unravel the mystery of the God of War.

Eventually, assisted by Bellani resistance fighters, the crew managed to insert themselves into the Bellani prison where T’shani and companions were held. The companions were then summoned to appear before The God of War. Obtaining their phasers smuggled in by the Bellani resistance fighters, Capt. Harper led a fight against The God of War. After sufficient taunting by the Federation crew, The God of War in his anger began to lose his shape. He was a Changeling, not a Bellani, who had duped the Bellani people for many years! As the fight ended, the Bellani government officials realized they had been deceived and renounced their erstwhile ‘god’ and entered negotiations to enter the Federation and forsake their warmongering ways.

Rules Observations

I’ll make a separate post on rules that we need to look up or master. The Starship rules worked well I think, with the Fate Fractal making it easy to run the combat using ships treated as characters. The ‘Shields’ house-rule letting you know ‘shields are at 94%!’ was a nice bit of flavor which mapped to the Stress boxes as you tracked damage.


There was some great roleplaying! Things I remember:

  • Mason played a character with a ‘Lady’s Man’ aspect. His distraction when seeing the attractive Alani (a Coborati officer) led to him botching a control panel repair job, which resulted in the reactivation of a previously suppressed transponder inside a rescued Bellani escape pod reactivating. Shortly thereafter, 7 Bellani warships emerged from Warp and confronted the heroes. Later, Mason’s character acted on an aspect and wandered off to explore the back-alleys of Cobor, only to be confronted by Alani’s jealous husband. I love how Fate mechanics tie into getting yourself into trouble 🙂
  • Robert was in great form doing a Shatner-style captain. I loved it! His props were second to none as well.
  • Todd worked his ever-impressive Scottish accent for his engineering role.
  • I was impressed with how quickly Martin picked up on the Fate rules. He slid into great, genre-specific roleplaying. Loved how his attempts at Empathy and negotiation served as the foil for the trigger-happy, Kirk-style Capt. Harper!

Visuals on the game table.


Started using fluorescent markers on the plexiglass with no battlemat — works great to draw zones and not get distracted by Chessex grid mentality.


Someone’s In-Character Tonight!


Wow! Look at these props! They make noises and everything!

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