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Old August 16 2014, 05:08 AM   #1
JJohnson
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Star Trek tabletop RPG play

I was wondering if anyone here had played the old Star Trek RPG from FASA back in the day. I've gotten all the books, I'm just wondering if it was fun and worth setting up to play.

I've also heard there's a "Star Fleet Battles" that's based on, but can't for legal reasons reference, Star Trek, but I don't know much about it.

Does anyone know a good way to get started in Trek tabletop gaming?

I'm looking to do something vaguely like what you see for either Warhammer 40K or Lord of the Rings, where you set up a field, put your pieces, measure out how far they go, and roll your dice to determine speed, damage, all that stuff, along with having a planetside component for figures (as in, I get a Kirk figurine and an Enterprise figurine, and play each in turn).
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Old August 21 2014, 04:34 PM   #2
137th Gebirg
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Re: Star Trek tabletop RPG play

I did both FASA RPG and their Starship Combat Simulator. The RPG was fantastic and, IMO, better than anything else that's come out since. Their Four Years War and Klingon supplements were particularly great (and, interestingly, the basis for the new "Star Trek: Axanar" fan film project). Many of their pre-written games were quite well done (A Doomsday Like Any Other, The Kobayashi Alternative, etc).

The ComSim on the other hand was not so great. I can't remember much in the way of details - it was so long ago - but I remember discovering some flaws in their hit chart algorithm and was irritated that I had to make some changes to account for it. I also did SFB and I remember it being far superior to the FASA Sim (and would be better from a tabletop POV). Ironically, though, I found the FASA tabletop miniatures to be superior to the SFB ones (the ship designs, in general, as well).

Eventually, I wound up making my own plots and storylines using the FASA ruleset, to eventually be superseded by the White Wolf system which, IMO, was quite easy to customize into the Trek world and was better at developing detailed characters. Tabletop games (in my world) were made obsolete by computer games like Starfleet Command and Armada.
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Old August 23 2014, 06:15 PM   #3
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Re: Star Trek tabletop RPG play

It's not exactly what you're looking for, but you might want to take a look at Star Trek: Fleet Captains. In the base game there are two fleets, Federation and Klingon, and you compete with each other to complete missions, fight each other, have encounters with things like the Nexus. It's really cool, and there's a Romulan expansion with a Dominion expansion coming out soon.
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Old August 29 2014, 08:34 PM   #4
Nerroth
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Re: Star Trek tabletop RPG play

JJohnson wrote: View Post
I've also heard there's a "Star Fleet Battles" that's based on, but can't for legal reasons reference, Star Trek, but I don't know much about it.

Does anyone know a good way to get started in Trek tabletop gaming?
Are you primarily looking for a pen-and-paper RPG, a hex-and-counter tabletop game, or a miniatures-based combat system - or some mixture of the above?


The Star Fleet Universe (of which Star Fleet Battles is a part) does have a somewhat oblique relationship to the on-screen source material, since the original licence it was based on stemmed from Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual. The terms of Amarillo Design Bureau's licence with Paramount/CBS are somewhat arcane, but essentially ADB only has access to the "pre-1979" material they make use of already, and cannot use any on-screen material from The Motion Picture onwards. They are free to come up with new material of their own, however.

So, one the one hand, there are no Breen or Borg or Cardassians in the SFU, and the "TV empires" that are in the mix (such as the Klingons and Romulans) are portrayed quite differently; the SFU Klingons have no brow ridges, for example. But on the other hand, there is a whole host of new species, factions, and technologies in the mix, such as the Lyrans, the Hydrans, and the Inter-Stellar Concordium (which were adapted by Taldren for use in the first two-and-a-half Starfleet Command PC games).


If you were looking for a pen-and-paper RPG, the SFU has the Prime Directive series, which is currently supported for GURPS 4th Edition and D20 Modern. (A new version based on Mongoose Traveller has been in development, though it's not clear when it'll be ready to go.) Both GPD4e and PD20M have Federation, Klingon, and Romulan sourcebooks available, if you wanted to see how the SFU portrays those factions.


If you were more interested in tabletop wargaming, there are four(ish) games in the SFU which cater to this, with varying degrees of granularity on offer.

SFB is the oldest and most comprehensive tactical game system of the lot, and it can be played on a tactical hex map using counters or miniatures. It offers the most individual detail regarding exactly what your starship can or cannot do, and the widest variety of time periods and settings to fly it in. But it can be awkward to try and run larger squadron or fleet encounters in this game system relative to the others.

Federation Commander is somewhat related to SFB, though it streamlines many features and relies more on colour laminated Ship Cards rather than paper black-and-white SSDs to show what each individual ship has on offer. FC is a faster-playing game which is more capable of handling squadron encounters well, though it is still trying to catch up to the wider array of options that SFB has already.

ADB and Majestic 12 set up an agreement a few years back which allows for a SFU-themed adaptation for the Admiralty and Nova editions of the Starmada game system. Both editions of Starmada are oriented more towards larger fleet actions, and use a very different game system compared to either FC or SFB. (Essentially, this adaptation is more of a "reimagining" of how SFU combat works, rather than a line-for-line porting of one type of play into another.)

While ADB and Mongoose signed an agreement of their own which led to the creation of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, which adapts the SFU to a modified version of Mongoose's A Call to Arms game system (which had been used for Babylon 5 and Noble Armada incarnations in the past). Like Starmada, ACtA:SF is mainly about fleet engagements. Unlike Starmada (or FC or SFB), this game assumes the use of miniatures on a hexless board. Indeed, the Starline 2500 miniatures range was developed with its use for ACtA:SF in mind. (That said, the 2500s can be used for other games, and one could also use the older Starline 2400s if one so wished.) ADB assumed the primary development responsibilities for ACtA:SF recently, and a "version 1.2" edition of the core rulebook is currently being primed for release. So it may be worth holding fire on this game until 1.2 is available before passing judgement on it one way or another.


And if you really wanted to go all-in, ADB also do a strategic-level wargame, Federation and Empire, in which you can run the navies of entire factions (such as all of Star Fleet or the Klingon Deep Space Fleet), plus the military budgets needed to fund them. The strategic hex maps used to represent the Alpha Octant in F&E are set in a galaxy which looks quite different to what has been portrayed for the post-1979 Paramount/CBS franchise, but is closer to the way it was shown in the Technical Manual.


Does any of that help?

Last edited by Nerroth; August 29 2014 at 08:46 PM.
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