Trek Tabletop RPG Experiences

Discussion in 'Trek Gaming' started by ThomastheCat, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. ThomastheCat

    ThomastheCat Captain Captain

    Nov 27, 2004
    Campbell, CA
    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?
  2. ALF

    ALF Commodore Commodore

    Mar 12, 2005
    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.
  3. judge alba

    judge alba senior street judge Premium Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    mega city 1
    if you want a simple battle rules then you could try this site
    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
  4. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 24, 2002
    New England
    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.
  5. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Sep 15, 2006
    Italy, EU
    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.

    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.

    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.
  6. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

    Dec 1, 2004
    milky way... there abouts
    FASA, best thing to never officially happen to Star Trek.

    Totally love FASA! :techman:
  7. ThomastheCat

    ThomastheCat Captain Captain

    Nov 27, 2004
    Campbell, CA
    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.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2009
  8. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 14, 2004
    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.
  9. Drake

    Drake Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Mar 7, 2009
    Florida, USA
    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.
  10. DaleC76

    DaleC76 Captain Captain

    Nov 19, 2003
    The State of Alabama
    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, if you're interested.
  11. Drake

    Drake Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Mar 7, 2009
    Florida, USA
    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.
  12. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 29, 2008
    Go ahead, caller. I'm listening...
    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.
  13. Bishop76

    Bishop76 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 7, 2009
    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...
  14. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Though not ready yet, I believe Adamant Entertainment are working on an unofficial Star Trek style RPG supplement for Mongoose's version of Traveller.
  15. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

    May 3, 2003
    Portland, OR
    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.

  16. Solariabsg25

    Solariabsg25 Commodore Commodore

    Jan 23, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    Though I love SFB, in my opinion Federation Commander would probably be the best to use for RPG combat, as in worse-case scenarios, you could end up a single combat taking up an entire session, or maybe even spilling into 2, with SFB.

    Also, FC has less rules for people to get familiar with, so would not recommend SFB unless all your players know it and play it already.
  17. Mirror Spock

    Mirror Spock Ensign Red Shirt

    May 8, 2009
    New York, NY
    Yeah, I found the Decipher Trek RPG to be subpar. However, the Star Trek CCG is amazing (especially the First Edition).
  18. Trekarama

    Trekarama Lieutenant Red Shirt

    May 14, 2009
    Indianapolis, IN
    I've ran and played both the FASA Star Trek RPG, and the original Prime Directive. I like them both immensely. FASA gets the nod for being more accurate to the source material, but Prime Directive is a lot of fun a s well.

    Prime Directive takes place in the same universe/timeline as Starfleet Battles. These games are based on a license from Franz Joseph and Paramount. It's basically TOS up to the first movie. Of course there is no mention of any Kirk, Spock, etc., but it does contain ships, aliens, weapons, etc. from the original series.

    The FASA game is out of print, but can be found on Ebay and used game stores. Prime Directive is still in print. As far as Decipher's version I have the main rulebook, but haven't had the chance to play it. From reading the rules though, it does appear to be more rules oriented than the previous games.

    As someone else mentioned I would suggest Federation Commander for ship battles simulation. I have played Starfleet Battles for many years, but have switched over to FC for it greatly improved simplicity. For a casual player I believe it would be the best choice.

    Good Luck with your games! :techman:
  19. xman

    xman Commander Red Shirt

    May 12, 2009
    Lotus Land, eh
    I played an Andorian Security guard many years ago and it was fun enough. That was before we found GURPS. Now we always substitute GURPS rules in any module we play. Talk about infinite universes!

    edit: I guess there's even books for it

    edit: heh, I see it's the Prime Directive mentioned above.

    Don't now what game it was I played, but it was back in the 80's

    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  20. darkwing_duck1

    darkwing_duck1 Vice Admiral

    Nov 18, 2001
    the Unreconstructed South
    At the time, Decipher's books were selling quite well for pnp RPG books. Problem was that the front office thought it should be selling CCG numbers (much higher) so they forced the game down the same damn bottleneck that killed LUG's effort.