Friday, October 15, 2010

Trek Poll

To go with my previous post, I've just set up a poll in the upper-right of your screen.

Which Star Trek series would you most prefer for a Trek-based RPG? 

If you'd like to elaborate on your answer, feel free here in the comments.

Star Trek RPGs

If there's one thing that I'm an even bigger fan of than D&D, it's Star Trek. I even met my wife in a Star Trek fan club. Fortunately, there a history of Star Trek role-playing games. I'm toying with the idea of starting up a Trek campaign (in addition to my AD&D Greyhawk campaign), and felt a quick recap of the available options was appropriate.

There were four "official", licensed, Terk RPGs. First, of course, there was Heritage's Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier. I mention it mostly for the sake of completeness; there really isn't a lot of game there, and it would take an enormous amount of work to bring up to playability. But still, I've got a copy, and I'm one of those grognards who actually bought it new, at GenCon (or was it Origins?).

Next came FASA's Star Trek: The Role Playing Game (1982-1990). This was my game of choice for quite a long time. It's skill based, and has a character generation system a lot like that found in Traveller, but what sold it for me was the Starship Tactical Combat Simulator. Damn but that was a sweet game in and of itself (much better, in my opinion, than the bloated-to-the-point-of-ridiculousness Starfleet Battles). One of the things about this version of Trek RPGing is that it is very clearly a product of its times. It was originally designed for "TOS" era games, but it was at its peak just as films like Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home were coming out, so naturally each film was accompanied by a slew of game books.

There were a couple of ST:TNG books published towards the end of the game's license, but for the most part it was focused on ST:TOS and the movie era. Since then, however, we've had four entire Trek television shows and a bunch of films. Certain elements of the Trek universe that were established in novels and repeated in the game were rendered obsolete by later developments. Remember that this was a time when all we had were a couple of movies, some novels, the Starfleet Technical Manual, and the Star Trek Medical Reference Manual. For instance, the difference between bumpy-headed Klingons and the more human-looking types; in the game, they were separate sub-species, "Imperial Klingons", "Human Fusions", etc. but that was wiped away in later iterations of the show. So it would work well if I wanted to run a movie-era campaign, but there would be a lot of background assumptions that would have to be re-examined in the light of the later additions to Trek Canon.

The third official Trek RPG was the effort by Last Unicorn Games; they didn't have a single game, but rather broke things out by series. Thus, there was a Star Trek: The Next Generation Role-Playing Game (1998), a Star Trek: TOS Role-Playing Game (1999), and a Star Trek: Deep Space 9 Role-Playing Game (1999). Although I dutifully collected all of the books and supplements, I never actually did play this one, so I don't have all that much insight into the mechanics. But the fact that it at least takes things through DS9 is a plus, and it's my understanding that at least parts of a planned (but never published) Voyager book were put out on the web.

After Last Unicorn, the rights were acquired by Decipher, which proceeded to produce a brand-new game called Star Trek Roleplaying Game (2002-2005). It does cover the whole of the Trek universe (up to that point), but unfortunately the company seems to have folded, and the future of the Trek RPG license is uncertain. This version uses a universal mechanic system based on the CODA system.

I should also point out that there is also a free d20 game by Mike Berkey called Where No Man Has Gone Before (2007). He's also come out with a couple of supplements that cover starship design and designing alien races. It's a nifty little game, unauthorized, of course, but since it only covers the Original Series era, it's not really what I'm looking for.

What I am looking for is a game that covers the Trek universe through the DS9/Voyager time period. I know I'm not going to get something that's in print (at least in a dedicated Trek RPG), but even if it's out of print, I'm willing to take something that I can get a reasonable number of supplements for. A compelling starship combat system is important. I would be willing to adapt a non-Trek RPG to the task After all, I know the background material like the back of my hand; the question would be just how much work it would take to translate into game mechanics information.

Anyone have any ideas?