23rd Century Experiments

Following on from yesterday’s musing about Star Trek, I decided to delve a little deeper into providing myself with a solo game using Star Trek Adventures (STA). Developing my hypothesis, I considered the predictions that lay underneath my reticence to play in the past.

Star Trek is one of my favourite TV shows and I would deeply enjoy roleplaying in the Star Trek Universe.


  • While I will feel enthusiastic initially, I will become unable to play because I will be mired in the desire to “get it right”.
  • STA is too complex to be fun.
  • I won’t know where to start and I will flounder around until I give up.
  • Even if I do pull this off, the stories will be shallow and crappy.
  • People will think I am stupid for playing Star Trek.
  • I will have to play solo because no one else will want to play.

Key beliefs to challenge:

  • You have to know Star Trek and the Universe setting inside and out to be able to play.
  • STA is a complicated game.
  • What people think about my play matters more than playing.

It’s clear that the underlying beliefs above are likely to all be false.

I know from recent experiments with pre-written settings that you don’t have to engage with the whole thing at once: breaking it down, starting in one small place, and building a game iteratively is much more helpful. I suspect that STA isn’t as complex as the huge book might make it appear. What people think about my play is, well, not their business because this is a solo.

Getting Started Small

Taking some inspiration from two sources, I decide to forego the character creation section of the rules and explore other areas:

Skip over character creation, but look at other entries—in particular, subentries—and settle on something that seems different from other rule sets you’ve seen. (Hint: if you see the word “creating” or “developing” in a chapter title, that might be a good place to turn first.)

Solo GM’s Guide, page 64

I also feel it’s a useful tip to grab and use the three questions presented in ICRPG:

1: Where are the heroes?
2: What is their goal?
3: What stands between the two?

Index Card RPG Master Edition, page 79

Where are the heroes?

STA pages 306-309 has a section entitled, “Creating Planets”. I am going to begin there. I am also drawn to the Starship Creation stuff and will head there next. Rolling on the planetary tables, I come up with the following initial location:

  • Class L Planet (marginally habitable world).
  • Ancient ruins or artefacts; warlike primitive inhabitants.
  • Many huge animals (anything from a large dinosaur to a large starship).

Looking at the guidance round Class L planets, I see that they don’t have animal life on land. This is curious given my two rolls above about huge animals and primitive inhabitants. I imagine the world as having huge dinosaur-like sea creatures which roam through the deep waters.

For the primitive inhabitants, I am going to imagine a devolved group of survivors living among the ruins of an ancient civilisation which has somehow weathered thousands of years of internecine warfare.

The idea of an underwater domed city pops into mind and I also remember the first adventure of STA I played (back in the playtest days, with the school club) which is included as “The Rescue At Xerxes IV”. I will lift the Neanderthals as minor NPCs and place them in the ruined city.

My mind wants to play in the 23rd Century with the Original Series Era and I imagine this as the continuing voyages of one of the Constitution-class ships sent out from the Federation to explore.

Turning to STA page 238, I decide to run through Starship Creation… and then I remember I have the STA Rules Digest that comes with the Tricorder set. The beauty of this book is that it is themed for 23rd Century classic Trek! Page 222 of the Rules Digest sets me rolling.

I print off an Original Series Era Starship Registry sheet and set to. Not feeling sure about which year the game will be set, I opt for the commissioning date for the Constitution-class which is 2243. The space frame is the Constitution-class, so that’s easy. I jot down the basic values for the starship. From here, I choose the Multirole Explorer as my Mission Profile.

After further reading of the Rules Digest, I realise that the Original Series Era defaults to 2269 as the starting year and decide to move the game to that year. This lets me give the ship two refits: upgrades to Sensors and Structure. I name her the USS Spartan, NCC-1700 (stealing the designation which has never been named in canon).

Where are the heroes? Aboard the USS Spartan and visiting an L-Class Planet to investigate an anomalous energy signature deep under the planet’s ocean. Upon arriving in orbit, the crew has discover an ancient undersea structure and evidence of gigantic aquatic life forms.

What is their goal? To discover the nature of the anomaly and investigate the ruins.

What stands between the two? Oceans and a hostile world, primitive intelligent aliens, and no doubt some other dangers.

Now I feel ready to create a character.

Game on!


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