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ThomastheCat February 21 2009 04:39 PM

Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Hey everyone, I am looking at DMing a couple of Star Trek tabletop RPGs and was curious about others' experiences in this area.

I found all of the Decipher sourcebooks for very cheap, so I ordered all of them, waiting on most of them to arrive in the mail. I also ordered the Starfleet Universe "Prime Directive" D20 Modern sourcebook, but that has yet to get here.

Has anyone tried either of these games? Care to talk about the story of the game you ran and how you felt the rules worked?

I am also thinking about using a game like Bridge Commander or Starfleet Command 2 to simulate combat instead of the book rules. Has anyone done a similar approach?

billcosby February 21 2009 06:38 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
If you have patience, you could always use Star Fleet Battles, that's what it was designed for! Plus, you will be a hard core TOS purist.

Anyway... if you don't have the patience I bet setting up a battle sim on BC or SFC would work out swell.

judge alba February 21 2009 07:22 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
if you want a simple battle rules then you could try this site
http://home.comcast.net/~ststcsolda
it's for the starship combat game but it has a few ships and a few home rules also i believe there is a set of rules on line somewhere for the game

Duncan MacLeod February 22 2009 05:01 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Frankly Decipher is sub-standard in their game mechanics, so was Icon. If you want a Trek pnp RPG that had exceptional game mechanics go with FASA. Although I will admit their Next Gen material sucked big time, for the most part their stuff is quite usable. Oh, you may want to change the timeline to the currently accepted one but that's hardly that big a strike against the game system, is it?

Prime Directive is ok, although you're better off with the GURPS version than d20, but be prepared for major universe changes. Frankly it's best viewed as an alternate universe. Still, it can be fun to play.

iguana_tonante February 22 2009 05:37 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Quote:

ThomastheCat wrote: (Post 2638254)
I am also thinking about using a game like Bridge Commander or Starfleet Command 2 to simulate combat instead of the book rules. Has anyone done a similar approach?

No, never tried this, but it could be interesting. One word of advice, tho: I'm usually for a narrative approach to role-playing, so I don't mind when game-masters fudge a bit with rolls to get some desired story-related outcomes. Using games like these, however, leaves you open with the distinct possibility that one mistake with the keyboard would leave your ship in bits and all you characters dead without any "magic dice" escape, something I would like to avoid if possible. But YMMV.

Quote:

billcosby wrote: (Post 2638498)
If you have patience, you could always use Star Fleet Battles, that's what it was designed for! Plus, you will be a hard core TOS purist.

Oh god, Star Fleet Battles bored me to tears when I used it. They are very good at simulating battles, but the rule are way overcomplicated in my view.

Quote:

Duncan MacLeod wrote: (Post 2640970)
Frankly Decipher is sub-standard in their game mechanics, so was Icon. If you want a Trek pnp RPG that had exceptional game mechanics go with FASA. Although I will admit their Next Gen material sucked big time, for the most part their stuff is quite usable. Oh, you may want to change the timeline to the currently accepted one but that's hardly that big a strike against the game system, is it?

I still play with a FASA inspired game devised by me and my fellow players, and I'm very happy with it: streamlined rules, cinematic mechanics and a character-driven approach to role-playing. However, I didn't find anything wrong with Decipher (barring an over-use of "templates" in character creation), and I actually enjoyed playing with it. What are your main critics?


Can't say anything about the D20 system as I've never played it.

T J February 22 2009 06:57 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
FASA, best thing to never officially happen to Star Trek.

Totally love FASA! :techman:

ThomastheCat February 22 2009 10:51 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Thanks for the information, guys. I will keep FASA in mind for the future, but since I've already invested in the Decipher and ADB games I think I am going to see how they run. I was an artist on a few Trek Homeworld 1 mods and our team did a lot of ships based on the FASA stuff, I just assumed it'd be too hard to find a reliable source for those books nowadays.

Anyone care to talk about particularly good campaigns they've played as far as story goes? In the case of both games I will be playing with friends who are basically familiar with Trek, but I have the deepest knowledge of it. If anyone else has been in that situation, what did you do to make sure the game kept the "average" fan's attention?

Also, I am thinking about what to do for miniatures/counters. Starship minis are easy to come by and may not be needed anyway if I go the with the computer simulation route for battles. But as far as personnel combat I'd like to have minis or counters or something. If anyone has any leads on that front, I'd appreciate it. I've even thought about using something like the Sims 2 to create character profiles and print them out on paper counters.

Finally, one of these games will be run using a "virtual" tabletop program. Has anyone had any experience with these? The idea is to have a program simulate the tabletop RPG experience by providing a "tabletop" map that users can move their characters around. Most of these programs are system neutral and allow the GM to set up maps in advance with enemies, visibility, NPCs and other things. Anyway, my current thinking is to use Battlegrounds, but if anyone has used another program they like better please let me know.

stonester1 February 26 2009 01:39 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
I'd pick up the FASA stuff anyway. Reason being, ALL of them give unique insights into the Trek U, and whatever system you end up using for the campaign, you still have the rest for reference.

For example, the Decipher sourcebook on time travel in the Trek U? GREAT stuff, inspiration and referentially speaking.

Drake March 13 2009 09:18 AM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
I've been involved in two RPG campaigns. One was some time ago and used the FASA system, which I liked. We tweaked the core rules for character generation and ship design a little bit though to suit our own perceptions of things and because we wanted to play a game set in 2282 to begin with. Some of the later supplements dealth with this period. It kept us going happily for about three years.

The second campaign was set beginning in 2376 and we used the Decipher System. At first I found the character generation system awkward because of the way the sections were arranged in the books. One had to keep flipping back and forth to move from one part of process to the next and in some cases had to refer to things in different volumes. I found a handy character generation guide online that helped with this. Now the process seems fairly easy. I found the ship design system easy to use, but also found that for my taste it tended to produce "cookie cutter" classes. I handled that by once again tweaking the system to give it a bit more variety and flexibility. The mechanics of the battle system seemed good to me, although a bit complicated when one wanted speed of resolution. Still they give a good feel for maneuvers that read like they're right out of a script. Our group tends to go for narrative effect over number crunching though, so we tend to roll dice minimally and let the narrator move the action along according to his or her sense of dramatic pace.

DaleC76 March 18 2009 05:37 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Quote:

ThomastheCat wrote: (Post 2641822)

Anyone care to talk about particularly good campaigns they've played as far as story goes? In the case of both games I will be playing with friends who are basically familiar with Trek, but I have the deepest knowledge of it. If anyone else has been in that situation, what did you do to make sure the game kept the "average" fan's attention?

As far as FASA goes, I liked "The Triangle" campaign, which was set in a particularly lawless sector where the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan borders met. Lots of great material, easily adaptable to any system or campaign need, and a fun place where anything can happen. The sourcebook is on scribd.com, if you're interested.

Drake March 18 2009 06:36 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Most of the players in both our campaigns were generally familiar with Star Trek, but I was probably the alpha geek when it came to knowing Trek details. I think this is why I ended up captain in both campaigns, although I was more or less dragged into the role the second time around. I found that if the GMs wrote good, hard story lines that were character oriented and paid less attention to the techno-gee-whizzery, it was easier for those less Trek immersed to play. Of course, they would learn more as the game progressed. When it was my turn to GM, I tried to follow that rule.

I had forgotten about the Triangle until now. We played a bit in that too. I seem to recall "borrowing" (ok, I stole it outright) some of the plot elements from Hunt for Red October and have a new Klingon ship trying to defect in the Triangle. Sadly, it was a tolerable idea that wasn't executed as well as it might of been. In retrospect, I rate that game and my GMing effort as my personal Nemesis.

USS Triumphant March 27 2009 08:06 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
My gaming group never tried any of the formal licensed Trek RPGs, but we did play around with an extensive homebrew that involved a mash-up setting with Star Trek, Star Wars, and classic BSG elements. The best part of that game was the rules we came up with for convincing the DM that something would if it wasn't a straight-forward yay or nay chance - you could bribe, bluff, sweettalk, harass, or offer an impressive and/or believable explanation for how it worked or how it looked cinematically. It was totally off the cuff, but worked pretty well and was a lot of fun for a few sessions.

I've sometimes thought it might be a neat campaign to have players provide character concepts for their Trek-based away team members, help them stat them up in D20 (3.5E-type) style with some basic Trek equipment, and then have their team pass through an ion storm on the way down to the planet and end up taking a tour of various fantasy RPG settings (Ravenloft, Faerun, Spelljammer, etc) looking for a way to get home.

Bishop76 April 7 2009 03:32 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
FASA was and probably still is the best system out there for a TOS era campaign. The TNG stuff produced was really crappy, though not entirely FASA's fault. They only had one season to go on (the first season of TNG) before they lost the license. It's also a shame they lost the tactical system. I liked their Battletech style ship combat way more than I liked Starfleet Battles' system. Less complicated, more fun.

Prime Directive (non-D20) probably runs a close second, though it is definitely an "alternate universe" type setting. I found the Prime Teams to be a very logical and intensely fun idea that should have existed in Starfleet anyway (and they kind of did eventually in Enterprise's 3rd season). I haven't played the d20 version, but I generally believe that d20 versions are watered down versions of better systems.

LUG's system (Icon) wasn't that horrible, but neither was it any good. A solid C effort. They did excel in the source material, though - their books were some of the best written, most informative, and best produced. Though I didn't like their system as much as the previous two, I still miss their gorgeous sourcebooks.

Decipher is the definition of failure in RPGs, CCGs, etc. There is a reason you got those books for such a good deal. I saw the whole line for sale at Gen Con last year (new) for $6 a book. It's a horrible system and it's also an unsupported system at this point. They stopped producing the line in 2007.

I'm not so sure I'm in love with your idea of using a computer game for a tabletop combat scenario. I'm not that familiar with those games, admittedly, but can you set up the scenarios any way you want to? Can you have more than one person playing the scenarios at a time? It seems like you would have one person having fun with the game while the rest of your group sat around on their thumbs.

Crap, now I'm all nostalgic for some FASA Trek...

The Badger April 7 2009 08:02 PM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Though not ready yet, I believe Adamant Entertainment are working on an unofficial Star Trek style RPG supplement for Mongoose's version of Traveller.

Albertese April 16 2009 01:47 AM

Re: Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences
 
Personally, FASA is my favorite non-canon interpretation of Trek. In many ways I like it better than the "real" Star Trek. My own personal Star Trek universe is mostly inspired by FASA. I have a lot of the old source books and a grip of the scenario books which I plan to adapt to a sci-fi universe of my own making, based largely on Star Trek with some nuBSG just for flavor. I was just going to run Star Trek, but I decided to do my own thing since a) I know what elements my players would enjoy that are not really present in proper Star Trek and b) a lot of my players are familiar enough with Trek that I wouldn't be able to tweak it at all without illiciting "that's not how it is" comments. Since I want to base it more on the FASA universe than TNG+ Trek, which my player's know better anyhow, I thought it better for us to do our own thing.

I'm currently using the Basic Role Playing ruleset by Chaosium Inc. Haven't actually played yet, but reading through it, it seems to be in similar waters to FASA's rules, at east, not much like D20, which I personally do not like at all.

--Alex


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