Star Trek Adventures Thoughts

  • NOTE: This post got away form me and is a bit long and rambly. Scroll to the bottom for a TLDR version!

    I've seen some discussion of it in other threads so I thought I'd post my experiences with the game system just in case they happened to help anyone. I initially was not a fan of the system. When the beta came out I quickly dismissed it. A friend recently got into the Conan RPG, which uses the same system (more or less), and suggested we try out the Star Trek RPG.

    I'm glad we did.

    Starting at the top we'll discuss character generation. We opted to go with semi-random, leaving open the possibility of making choices for the sake of crew diversity. It uses a "life path" style of character generation that is similar (but not quite as fleshed out) as the system in A Song of Ice and Fire RPG. We ended up with a really cool crew that we would not have gotten if we had opted not to go random.

    My character ended up being an aging Betazoid diplomat taking on his first starship command. Another player, who normally makes dangerous vixen types, wound up with a middle aged Bajoran medical officer. We were both pleasantly surprised and were quite anxious to try the characters out.

    Next up is the system, the thing that turned me off of the game during the beta. They take the concept of attributes and skills, called disciplines, quite differently than other games. It's not necessarily about how strong, willful, or smart you are but rather how you handle yourself under certain types of situations. A character's Daring measures their ability to act when they won't or can't think about their actions. Conversely a character's Control represents exactly that, a character's control over all aspects of themselves (mind, body, and spirit).

    Disciplines are equally as broad. Security represents pretty much anything physical from general athleticism to combat. Command is a character's ability to lead, negotiate, coordinate, or otherwise influence someone with their social graces.

    These attributes and disciplines can be combined in a great number of combinations representing just about anything you can imagine. Ambushed by a Gorn? That would be your Daring + Security. Need to explain something highly technical to a group of non-technical people? Presence + Engineering. Need to give the same speech to a group of highly technical people? Reason + Engineering.

    So when you make these rolls, what are you rolling? Generally 2d20. You add your Attribute and your Discipline together to get your target number and every die that comes up that number or lower equals a success. Pretty simple. The number of dice involved can be changed depending on advantages and/or complications. The number of successes could also be modified depending on things called Focuses (Discipline specializations).

    The one thing that still kind of rubs me wrong is they use a Threat Pool system. Essentially a player can buy extra d20's (up to 3) for any roll by adding Threat to the Threat Pool. The GM can then use that Threat to make future encounters more difficult by increasing the number of successes needed for a check or adding complications. I'm generally not a fan of these types of systems but, honestly, it worked well enough when we played.

    There are also things called Values, little quips and quotes that define your character, that can be used to purchase additional D20's as well. The difference here is that you don't roll these D20's they are assumed to come into play as critical successes.

    Anyway, that's the basics of the system. It was simple and fast paced and we never really felt hitched up while we were playing. Granted, it was just one night of gaming but we still had fun.

    The high points for me were character generation, which was a blast, and the fact that our characters were on par with the characters from The Next Generation (Mophidius offers a TOS and TNG character file through DriveThruRPG). They made those characters with exactly the same number of points as player characters are made from. It's a small thing but it helped make us feel like our characters were standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Riker and Picard and not just languishing in their shadows.

    Oh, this game also hands things like age, rank, and position fantastically in my opinion. A character can be Young, Experienced, or Veteran. Young and Veteran get a special Talent to represent either their youth or experience. Experienced characters are considered the norm and just get a bonus talent of their choosing. It works out wonderfully.

    As for ship positions and rank it's less about who you get to boss around and more about how you can contribute to an adventure as a (Position). For example, the ship Captain can share his Determination (used to power Values) with anyone he can communicate with, essentially inspiring them to succeed. Other ranks get various "advantages" which can be used to make things easier for themselves or more difficult or others.

    Speaking of advantages, this is another thing I often dislike in games and it was really no different here. Anyone familiar with fate will know what advantages (and complications) are. They create narrative bonuses and limits on a scene. They can be used to make something possible that would be otherwise impossible or to decrease the difficulty of a task for advantages or the reverse for complications. My problem with these is people either get them or they don't. For those that don't this can really limit their enjoyment of the game. Then, with some that do, they can often try to twist the system around to get results that were never intended by use of advantages or complications.

    Anyway, overall we had a really fun time with the system. We're going to try something a bit different next time by simplifying the character generation and making a crew of mixed factions (Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian, Etc) to see how well that works.

    TLDR: For anyone who was thinking about checking this game out it's pretty cheap on DriveThruRPG(like $17 I think?) and I think it's definitely worth a look if you're into Star Trek. I've played every Star Trek RPG since the Fasa incarnation and this one, IMO, is probably the best of the bunch.

  • Pitcrew

    Having read through ST:A I had the same initial thoughts as well. I thought it was poorly put together and had no interest in playing.

    I still haven't played, proving that my initial instincts are in fact correct. Don't do things.

    But it's interesting to see feedback from someone who started where I was but enjoy it. So I'm going to go ahead and read through the book again I think just to see if my position on it changes. I would love to see a good ST table top that I could sink my teeth into rather than a custom Cortex+ system my circle has used.

  • My problem is with rolling d20's. A d20 is a very /swingy/ die when you have a target number? How many times have we played D&D and missed six times in a row with the d20? Sure that can happen with any die system but it seems to happen a /lot/ with the d20.

    Now I don't know what the target number is, or how successes are valued, but that makes me pause.

    I don't want to feel like a palladium game where everyone's skills /suck/ and you fail nine times out of ten when trying any skill until you're level 15, then it's you only fail 5 out of 8.

  • @lithium If I recall the chance for 1 success on each d20 is in the 5-14 range, and if you roll very low that counts as 2 successes on that die.

    I recall I thought it interesting, but when i looked at it with I didn't like what I saw.

  • Well, I'm not going to get into a discussion about Palladium Games or a d20 being "swingy" but I'll give examples from my character. On my worst Attribute + Discipline combination I'd need to roll a 9 or less (that would be his Reason + Conn) meaning I have a 45% chance of success on 1 D20. You're rolling at least 2D20, however, with many ways to add one or two more. Then there are advantages, values, and focuses which can increase the number of successes you get.

    If I took his middle scores he's have a target number of 12, giving him a 60% chance of success on 1d20. For his best combination (Presence + Command) he'd have to roll a 17 or less giving him an 85% chance of success on 1d20. See again for variables though.

    To be honest, we never had a problem with succeeding. Often the biggest issue was finding a way around complications that could not be rolled through. The game certainly won't be for everyone but I liked it and had fun with it. It hasn't become my favorite RPG certainly but I do look forward to playing it again.

  • @zombiegenesis said in Star Trek Adventures Thoughts:

    If I took his middle scores he's have a target number of 12, giving him a 60% chance of success on 1d20. For his best combination (Presence + Command) he'd have to roll a 17 or less giving him an 85% chance of success on 1d20. See again for variables though.

    If I did my math right, you've got an 84% chance of at least one success with 2D20 counting successes against a TN12, so that's probably not too bad. But @Lithium is right - D20 is a very "swingy" die and you're going to feel the randomness more over the small-ish sample sizes you'll encounter during a typical gaming campaign than you would with any other die size. It's not a reason to deep-six the system in and of itself, but it is something for GMs and players to be aware of and cautious of when selecting their skills.

  • @faraday
    0 16.00
    1 44.00
    2 34.25
    3 5.50
    4 0.25

    This is including the 2 successes on a roll of a 1 for each of 2d20. 16/48/36 for 0,1, 2 successes otherwise.

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