Monday, January 2, 2017

Charted Space...The Final Frontier

I've come up with another one of my absolutely awesome, terrible ideas.






Heheh.

One of the biggest differences between my last few approaches to Star Trek gaming and my older approaches is that the more recent attempts have a tad too much 'meta' in them. 

I have delivered the pitch, and executed the adventures with an awareness that this is a game, based on a TV show franchise, in a universe that is not necessarily a living, breathing thing.

It has long been my goal to get back to Star Trek RPG campaigning as I originally envisioned, and ran it; a series of moments in the lives of people living, and working in a possible future.

To this end, I'd like to try to adapt the Star Trek universe to the slightly crunchier, often more 'gritty', and 'realistic' feel, and mechanics of Traveller. 

This is certainly not a new idea, and I am sure many gamers have done this over the years, but it is a first for me. I have toyed with the idea in my head every once in a blue moon (Blue moon? Andoria?), but never committed any real effort to making it happen. Certainly I've never put thought to paper (or screen as it were). 

Would it work? How much work is involved? Should I even bother?

Well, last year around this time I attempted to create a Star Wars Traveller. The effort had mixed results. It was fun to do, and I got some very positive reactions from readers of the blog. My one attempt to actually run it got a decent response, but my players didn't quite connect with the setting, or style I was hoping to produce.

In this case however...er...hmm. I fear the same thing might happen.

Traveller is one of the games that works with my mainstay, monthly group. That gives this project, and me, some hope. At the same time, it is definitely Star Trek, and if that isn't going to act as a draw then I may end up feeling like I'm doing a lot of work for nothing. 





USS Traveller - Insignia with Department Colors
Command, Sciences, and Engineering and Support Services.



As I have mentioned, 2017 is my 40th Anniversary in the RPG hobby, and as such I want to do something really special this year. Special to me that is. This idea fits that bill. Why? Because these are two of my favorite things, and I think that they might just go really well together.

What do you think? Worth a shot, or save myself some heartache?

Should I boldly go, and keep her in dry dock?







AD
Barking Alien







10 comments:

  1. @ BA:

    If I were to choose a game to run Star Trek, I'd probably use the Far Trek RPG, or else X-Plorers (which is pretty damn close to custom made B/Xish Star Trek). However, FT probably falls into the "too meta" category, and X-Plorers...well, I know you're not a fan of class-based systems.

    Traveller is definitely a good option for non-class, non-meta space opera, and certainly works with the "party-are-all-crewmen-on-one-ship" genre. Other than the setting work you'd need to do, I see two main issues with the system:

    - Grittiness level might be TOO "gritty." Star Trek IS space opera after all, and it's not all that gritty...the protagonists have pretty much a 100% survivability rate. Ensuring that in Traveller requires some pretty smart, creative, and (appropriately) cautious play from the PCs...no big space battles with Klingons or Kirk-esque jumping head-first into a scrap. You may not be able to get a "Trek-feel" to your game without a certain amount of meta.
    - Chargen in Traveller features a system that draws PCs from many various and diverse walks of life...which isn't really the same style as Star Trek's "military lite" style. Yes there is diversity of skill (doctors, pilots, redshirts, etc.), but they're all of a military background. In addition to the work that you'd have to do with the setting, I'd think you'd need to do some significant modification to the standard Traveller chargen process to represent the PCs' academy training. Not too hard, and probably fun to boot...but hopefully you've got a committed group ready to go considering all the prep you'll need to do.

    In general, a Traveller-based Star Trek game feels like a worthy 40th Anniversary gaming project. I dig the idea, and will be interested to see how it comes along if you decide to pursue it.
    : )

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    1. I will obviously be addressing some of the issues you bring up in upcoming posts on the subject, but I want to respond to one particular element right away -

      "Chargen in Traveller features a system that draws PCs from many various and diverse walks of life...which isn't really the same style as Star Trek's "military lite" style."

      I sort of disagree. That is to say, I feel like Traveller Character Generation is largely angled towards having a military background, especially in the earlier editions.

      In the first little black books all you had were Army, Navy, Marines, Merchant, Scout, and Other.

      "Yes there is diversity of skill (doctors, pilots, redshirts, etc.), but they're all of a military background. In addition to the work that you'd have to do with the setting, I'd think you'd need to do some significant modification to the standard Traveller chargen process to represent the PCs' academy training. Not too hard, and probably fun to boot...but hopefully you've got a committed group ready to go considering all the prep you'll need to do."

      Without giving too much away in a comment, I have considered the fact the my favorite RPG for gaming in the Star Trek universe is the Last Unicorn Games version. There you find characters defined by Species (Template), Position (Overlay), what their life was like Pre-Academy (Pre-Academy Package), what they specialized in at the Academy (Academy Training Package), where they were assigned after graduation, and their cadet cruise (additional Packages).

      Remember that in Traveller you determine what planet you're from, wherein I can fit the Pre-Academy Life info. Additional Tours of Duty are just like additional Tours in Starfleet (with some adjustments). The rest...well I have plans for those.

      As to whether Traveller gritty is too gritty for Star Trek, it could be. It remains to be seen. IMHO, I think FASA Star Trek would be considered far grittier by modern standards than any of the Star Trek options you mentioned, so I'm hoping Star Trek Traveller ends up closer to that game.

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    2. @ BA:

      I readily admit to zero familiarity with the FASA game. But little of the ST shows (or its films) would qualify as "gritty" in my book.

      For me, the premise of Star Trek fits pretty well into an RPG system...a crew, fresh out of the academy (with perhaps an NPC commanding officer) off on its five year mission, destined to come back as veteran Federation officers. The possibilities of getting embroiled in typical Federation-spanning ST drama gets me jazzed just contemplating.

      Good luck!

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    3. I have always felt that Star Trek's premise works incredibly well as an RPG, however I have a slightly different outlook on the PCs...

      "a crew, fresh out of the academy (with perhaps an NPC commanding officer) off on its five year mission, destined to come back as veteran Federation officers."

      None of the shows featured more than one crew member fresh out of the Academy (TOS- Chekov, TNG- Wesley?, VOY- Kim, etc.). Instead, they seemed to focus on the accomplished Command Crew, each with previous postings, well developed skills, and life experiences.

      In my mind, Traveller is perfect for that. Tours of Duty get you skills, commendations, promotions, and they age your character. It's a bit of a Lifepath system merged into Character Generation.

      At least that's what I'm hoping for.

      "The possibilities of getting embroiled in typical Federation-spanning ST drama gets me jazzed just contemplating."

      Agreed. That and all the first contact, strange technology, time-space anomaly goodness. :)

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    4. @ BA (re fresh faced recruits):

      I may have been unduly influenced by the more recent JJ Abrams films.
      ; )

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    5. Eww. The only thing the recent films have unduly influenced in me requires Pepto-Bismol to keep it down.

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  2. Fascinating, Captain.

    I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

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  3. Traveller was the second RPG I ever played. Given my love for all things Trek I would play the hell out of this!

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  4. I have not ever played traveler, but the careers aspect sounds perfect for a Fed ship, particularly if you trim out the wholly military ones (marines), and change the starting backgrounds to allow for young bucks getting into Star Fleet academy.

    Anyway, sounds like a great project, looking forward to reading about it from time to time.

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