Star Trek has been a deeply enjoyable universe for me, ever since I first saw Original Series re-runs on the family TV, shown at dinner times here in the UK sometime in the 1980s. The theme of exploration and the promise of a unified humanity deeply resonated at a time of Cold War and existential angst. Ever since those days, I have harboured a desire to join the story.
That’s probably why I have bought every available version of Star Trek roleplaying games, not to mention many video and tabletop wargames, set within the visionary universe of that imagined future. Strangely, however, I have never quite managed to bring Star Trek roleplaying to the table beyond isolated one-shots and playtests of the latest offering.
Star Trek Adventures (STA) is perhaps the finest iteration of the Star Trek Universe in roleplaying, at least since the Last Unicorn Games edition back in the late 1990s. I ran some games for the school club back when it was being playtested and have engaged in two games at conventions, enjoying every single outing. I’ve managed to get the odd session here and there but never quite found my group.
Being bed-ridden due to illness, I’ve been enjoying delving back into the STA products over the past few days. During this time, I’ve been considering some of the ideas that I learned from reading “Play” by Stuart Brown and realising that my affinity for this game and the universe it presents is deeply linked to my primary engagement when playing.
Exploration is a key engagement for me as a player. Brown identifies eight play personalities – a rough taxonomy for the types of play people trend towards enjoying – and my strongest is The Explorer.
“Exploring can be physical—literally, going to new places. Alternatively, it can be emotional—searching for a new feeling or deepening of the familiar, through music, movement, flirtation. It can be mental: researching a new subject or discovering new experiences and points of view while remaining in your armchair.”Brown, “Play”, pp 66-67 (KIndle Edition)
To engage my inner Explorer, I have taken to asking myself what the prospective game has to offer in terms of discovery. My particular approach to roleplaying games has always been oriented in this manner. I remember the sense of wonder evoked when playing Traveller for the first time, or when opening the RuneQuest box set. It’s therefore natural for me to re-orient myself towards exploration as an adult.
Star Trek is a natural fit for me, being a merging of a deeply enjoyable setting with an approach to play that invites my inner Explorer to engage. It’s literally there in the original conception: “To explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
With that established, I have formed a hypothesis for experimentation at the table: Star Trek is one of my favourite TV shows and I would deeply enjoy roleplaying in the Star Trek Universe. It might prove most beneficial for me to play solo in the first instance, to learn the game rules and revisit the setting, so that I can conceivably bring a game to life in the future.
I’ve found the STA Rules Digest – a product made as part of the Tricorder Edition of the game – particularly fascinating. Set in the 23rd Century Original Series Era, the game is presented in a digest-sized paperback which narrows the focus of the game to give just what the GM needs at the table. It has proven more accessible and readable than the original STA core rules.
And so here I am, ready to imagine my own Five-Year Mission out into the universe of Star Trek. I have an outline for a first mission, a starship designed, and even the beginnings of a Bridge Crew to bring it all to life. Perhaps, after all these years of looking on from the side-lines, STA will finally give me the warp nacelles I need to venture forth.