Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Into Trekness...The Schizoid Man

As regular readers and friends of this blog well know, I never have an idea for a game. I have fifty.

It is a far more difficult task to wrangle the concepts and stories my mind generates into something cohesive than it is to come up with them in the first place. My head is like a popcorn popper with the ability to replicate its own kernels and therefore pop popcorn perpetually.

I am also a fan of alliteration.

Quite the 'Schizoid Man', I jump from one genre to the next with infuriating frequency and while running D&D can't stop coming up with ideas for Superheroes. If Superheroes is chugging along nicely it's a good bet that that'll invite Mecha vs. Kaiju concepts to rear their fifty foot heads.

I've toned down my Gamer ADD considerably from my college days and prior, where I would often just stop a campaign at some random point so I could start 'a way better one' of a completely different nature. Eventually my regular group set me straight saying that although they thought I was one of the best GMs around, they'd had it. If I wasn't going to keep a good campaign going, they were ready to quit starting them in the first place.

I took a short break from running game at that point, spending nearly a year playing or running one-shots only for conventions or special occasions (holidays or birthdays, etc.). When I returned to GMing with the promise of a new, ongoing campaign, I decided to play it safe and go with a tried and true venue, a proven winner, Star Trek.

When I fall into that same state of creative indecisiveness I always look to the old girl once again to steady my focus.

At present, with my Traveller game in full swing and a Champions Supers game* in the works, I can't help think about Star Trek.

My head may be in a thousand places but my heart will always be on the Enterprise.


The ever inquisitive WQRobb commented on how my blog posts have remained light of late and what could be done about it. What he actually wrote was:

"Well, I'm eagerly awaiting some Trek-related posts, but they don't seem to be forthcoming yet. How about some questions?"

A grand idea! To which I responded and will repost here:

"Things have been a little crazy for me lately so blogging has had to go on the backburner for a time.

I do want to get back to it in full force and I appreciate the inspirational kick in the pants.

I will address your question more directly in an upcoming post but it gives me the additional idea of soliciting questions from readers on anything Star Trek gaming related.

Always wanted to run a Star Trek game but had trouble getting started? Ran one or running one now and looking for ideas on how to improve the experience? Ask a question in regard to Trek RPGing and I will do my best to help!"

Now to begin, I'll answer his first posted questions...

"If you were to run a Star Trek campaign right now, which system would you use?"

Nine out of ten times I'll be using Last Unicorn Games' ICON System Star Trek Role Playing Game to run Star Trek. There are numerous reasons for this but the key ones are:

A) It feels like it creates the best balance between cinematic/dramatic and you-live-in-that-universe for Star Trek gaming that I have seen.

B) I know it really well. I was a playtester for the first game in the series (Star Trek: The Next Generation Core Rules) and one of the writers on a book for the third series (Star Trek: The Original Series Andorian Sourcebook, 'Among The Clans').

C) I own pretty much everything ever produced for it including a copy/manuscript of the pre-release core rules (which are slightly different) and all magazine articles published for it.

If I were to use anything else I would probably use the FASA game again for nostalgia.

"What kind of story set-up would you use? A ship exploring space? A space station? A non-Starfleet merchant?"

Is this a trick question?

OK, personal biased here, but to use Star Trek to run a merchant or merc game is like making a grilled cheese sandwich with no cheese. You're missing the best part!

You can use any Sci-Fi game to run a bunch of adventurers wandering among the stars and getting into trouble. Some games are even made just for that. Traveller is perfect for it.

In a Star Wars campaign, I want the Force, the Empire and/or Republic and Hutts to be involved, even if I'm not a Jedi, a Rebel or a Scoundrel. Why? 'Cause its freakin' Star Wars. Where else do they have the Force? No where, that's where. So use it. Same concept with Star Trek. Which setting lets you be Starfleet? Umm...Star Trek? Ya damn right Star Trek! You can be a merchant schmo anywhere.

Now, I will say that while my preference is for a Starfleet vessel exploring space, a space station environment is very intriguing. I am a big fan of Deep Space 9 (my favorite Star Trek series after the original) and I loved the Star Trek novel series Star Trek: Vanguard.


In an upcoming post, I will go into a lot more detail on an idea I have for a Star Trek campaign utilizing a space station setting. I think you'll like it.

See you soon and don't forget to send in those questions.** Hailing frequencies are open!

Barking Alien

*Got a crazy neat, new idea for our next Supers game and I may or may not use Champions. I haven't decided. Might go with M&M 3E.

**If you'd prefer to email your questions you can send them to barkingalienATgeemailDOTcom or barkingUNDERSCOREalienATyahooDOTcom.


  1. I'm a fan of the LUG game as well. And I'm glad to get some writing going!

    1. I appreciate the input as always. It helps (me personally) a great deal to get feedback when I do a dedicated blog theme month.

  2. I hear you on the short attention span thing. Guilty as charged myself. As much as I love creating a vast epic and running it from beginning to end, something I think I've only ever successfully done a couple of times, I consider the long term campaign a trap. There are soooo many games to play and when your stuck playing the same game week after week, the others call to you. I easily own over a hundred games but have only actually run about a dozen of them and that's because the groups I've been involved with are only interesting in playing the most popular. Heck, my last game group lasted 6 years and they were only interested in playing D20! What you need are players with a short attention span who would be interested in constantly trying different things. Now that would be something.

    LUGTrek is definitely the best Trek though one thing that bugs me is that they do not give Vulcans their due. The +1 Strength bonus just doesn't cut it. I mean, Spock would bend steal in his bare hands and I'm sure he's the Vulcan equivalent of the 98 pound weakling. So what if the Vulcan is smarter and stronger than any of the other PC races. Does play balance really matter anyway? Shoot a Vulcan with a phaser and their just as dead as anyone else. Does it matter if they are much much stronger than the other PCs? Applying play balance in spite of the source material bugs me but other than that LUGTrek is awesome.

    1. I agree with you totally in regards to Vulcans and I am more of an Andorian fan myself. I have used the alternate Vulcan write ups found on TrekRPG.Net with no ill effects and highly recommend checking them out.

      I've noted before that I spend my formative years in the hobby going through a period where trying out new games was 'our thing'. Games were cheaper in those days and our group larger, so more people were buying games they were interested in. Not so nowadays. Really only two or three of us, myself included, ever buy new games and it's become pretty rare for me.

      Sadly, this is partly because funds are tight and partly because, quite frankly, few companies are making the games I want to play.

  3. Well, I have a few questions for you:

    - How well do players from, say, D&D, adjust from a "loot and get better equipment" to the "stardard issue is all you need" (and "there is no money") paradigm?

    - On a related note, do you use a "gentleman's code" with phasers to avoid disintegrating characters (PCs and villains) out of existence?

    - Can you talk a bit more about the different Star Trek games? I only know well the Decipher CODA, but have never played it (sadly).

    Maybe you have already writen about some of those, but I don't remember it.

    1. Yay Questions! Woot!

      I will address the answers to these in my next post, however, you may find it helpful to check out some of the posts I did on Star Trek in August of last year.


      Thanks again for the interest!

  4. "In a Star Wars campaign, I want the Force, the Empire or Republic and Hutts to be involved, even if I'm not a Jedi, a Rebel or a Scoundrel. Why? 'Cause its freakin' Star Wars. Where else do they have the Force? No where, that's where. So use it"


    I'm convinced you could have a good game (and an interesting TV series for that matter) just by taking plot elements form the original Trek episodes and dropping them on a Klingon crew instead of a Federation one - same universe, lots of familiarity, completely different approach, probably different outcomes - and completely different theme music too.