What a weekend! Spent Saturday with my girlfriend checking out Century of the Child, an awesome and quite moving exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City.
With many of the regular kids being on vacation with their families, my Sunday class was small and so I ran a one shot of Superheroes based on a very simplified Icons. Chicken Man, The Turbo Turtle, Lady Wind and The Unseen Knight managed to thwart the villainous activities of Assault N' Battery, Mister Mist, Thunderwoman, Dr. Dragon and their leader, The Water Wizard, before the nefarious fiends could rob the 1st National Super City Bank. It was a blast!
Before we get started with today's post, I wanted to send out some birthday wishes to two very different gents who've influenced our hobby, our collective culture, as well as me personally (albeit to different extents).
First, a Happy, Creepy, Thoroughly Mad and Incomprehensible Birthday to H. P. Lovecraft! Your essays and insight were as weird as your fiction and certainly not always pleasant.
Second, but by no means lesser, a Happy Birthday to The Great Bird of The Galaxy, Gene Roddenberry, for creating the 'Wagon Train to the Stars' that is the focus of my posts this month, before this and for many posts to come.
OK, down to business...and business is a' boomin'!
In my previous post I talked about the consideration that each beginning Star Trek PC and many of their opponents walk around with the equivalent firepower of a high level D&D wizard.
Accepted as a true statement on the nature of armed, ranged combat in the Star Trek universe, how do you enable your PCs to get into fights with each session seeing at least one of them vaporized? Well...tricky question.
First off, is seeing PCs disintegrated fairly often OK with you and your players? If it is and you are running a more old school mentality game, let the dice fall where they may and don't worry about it.
If on the other hand you want the PCs, like the main characters on a Star Trek TV series, to have a bit more longevity, you may want to consider my alternate approaches.
The Corbomite Maneuver
The threat of Phaser use is nearly as effective as Phaser use itself. That is, don't be afraid to brandish the weapon, be afraid to fire it.
Patterns of Force
When conflict is inevitable but you don't want to resort to atomizing everyone in sight, what are your options?
Well, looking to Star Trek, we see a surprising large amount of hand-to-hand and melee combat for a setting focused on the 22nd-through-24th centuries. Unusual ionospheres, mysterious radiation and ancient alien dampening field technology can really play havok with state-of-the-art Starfleet weaponry. Luckily, every Starfleet officer is well versed in the deadly art of Trek-Fu! Don't forget to karate chop your opponent on the back of the neck after he doubles over from your elbow to his stomach.
When trying to blend in with primitive natives on a planet you are surveying, it's not a good idea to draw attention to yourself by using an alien weapon on a local, even if he is attacking you. If the standard weaponry of the world/region you are in is a tonfa-like baton with one sharp end, well, make sure you have one of those. You know what they say, "When on 892-IV...".
Finally, Starfleet officers are often captured by locals and enemies species alike and relieved of their gear. If the PCs can escape and knock out some guards, they would do well to grab their captors' swords or nunchucks or sonic blasters or whatever those guys are using.
Day of The Dove
Of course not every encounter has to begin and end with violent conflict. Yes, yes, I know, 'just the exciting ones' right? I think Gene may have been overly optimistic about our chances...
In conclusion, I love a good Star Trek fight and believe it or not I have seen my fair share of Phaser battles as well. Just be sure not to use any one approach or response too often or too many of the same types one after the other. Infinite diversity isn't just for Vulcans. Sometimes it's for infinite combinations, like a quick left jab following a powerful right cross.