Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Voyage Home?

I've been a little disappointed in Star Trek of late.

July marks the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, and what exactly do we fans have to show for it? In some ways, a lot.

There is a new film out now, a new TV series on the way, a ton of fan friendly merchandise out, and Star Trek Online is still going strong - Star Trek is back in a big way, and we are celebrating that with the 50th Anniversary. 

Right? Hmmm. Why doesn't it feel like a celebration?

  • I am completely uninterested in the new movie. 
  • The new Star Trek TV series with be available primarily on CBS/Paramount's subscription service.*
  • I am unlikely to sign up for the CBS All Access subscription service just to watch one show.
  • Especially if I don't know if that show will be any good. Based on the three recent films, I'm not encouraged.
  • CBS/Paramount has created new rules for the production of Fan Films. They seem very limiting, and in some aspects somewhat draconian based on what has been produced by Star Trek fans in the past. If you've seen the level of quality, and dedication already put in by people who love your IP, why restrict that so much?
  • The rules prevent, or at least severely curtail Star Trek Continues, Star Trek: The New Voyages, and of course, the much anticipated, and beleaguered Axanar.
  • Star Trek Online is boring. It's cool how they've added a lot of new material over the years, and the current Original Series and time travel expansion is kind of fun, but after a few weeks, I'm already tired of it.

This is it? This is the 50th Anniversary of the most beloved Science Fiction Television series of all time? SERIOUSLY?!?

Captain...long range sensors have detected an unknown object approaching.

Eh? Very well Mr. Barkley, ahead at full impulse. Bring us about, and put it on the main viewer.

Aye, sir. We have it.


Red Alert! Red Alert! Shields up!


UPDATED: 07/22/16

Star Trek Adventures is a brand new, official Star Trek Role-Playing Game from a company called Modiphius Entertainment, makers of Achtung! Cthulhu, Mutant Chronicles, Conan, Infinity, and John Carter of Mars.

[OK, real talk - I don't know anything about these games, or very little to be sure. I've not played any of them because, they don't really fall in my areas of interest. Not my wheelhouse so to speak. I played the original Mutant Chronicles, but didn't really like it so much that I needed to check out the new one. Are any of these any good? Can someone chime in? I've heard good things about Achtung! Cthulhu - it is supposed to be really cool - but I've really heard nothing about any of these.]

The game uses Modiphius' house system which appears in all their games. All I know about it is it uses 2d20. That worries me a little, but maybe it's not that bad. I'll keep an open mind.

I don't have a lot of other information to detail here. I recommend following the link to Modiphius' website where they actually give quite a lot of information through the answering of a list of 18 questions.

The part that got me really excited was this:

1. Which Star Trek shows will the game cover?
"Star Trek Adventures will cover Star Trek the Original Series, Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager and Enterprise as well as all of the original and Next Generation films. It does not include the new reimagined films by JJ Abrams."

Well. Now you're talking.

It looks promising, if not for the game itself then as source material for a FASA, or Last Unicorn Games based Star Trek campaign. Plus crew miniatures! The point is, there will be new gaming products for Star Trek.

I really can't ask for more.

Happy Anniversary Star Trek! You are, and always shall be, my friend.

Barking Alien

UPDATED: I had the pleasre of talking to Chris Birch of Modiphius Entertainment via Facebook post today, as he came in to our Star Trek RPG Discussion Group there. Not only was he very nice, well spoken, and informative (within the parameters of what he can say at this juncture of course), but he conveyed an extremely important quality for me - he is a fan of Star Trek. He states, "I didn't want to fasten the Star Trek name to the 2D20 system. I wanted to make a great Star Trek game. The system has been adjusted/modified to fit Star Trek and not the other way around" - paraphrasing.

I'm feeling really good about this endeavor. Spring/Summer 2017 can't come soon enough.

Also - Duh! I just remember I have a good friend who works for Modiphius. LOL. A shout out to Lloyd Gyan, who expertly DID NOT TELL ME ABOUT THIS PROJECT!. That's right, somehow my pal kept the fact that he was working for a company doing a Star Trek RPG secret from me, Adam 'Starfleet or Die!' Dickstein. I'm impressed. They should either give this man a raise, a promotion, or transfer him to the British Intelligence service.

*The new Star Trek series will be available for viewing on Netflix for about 188 countries worldwide, but NOT the United States, and Canada. Wonderful. 

PS: There are two other really cool 50th Anniversary items coming out that I'm kind of excited about...

A new edition of the Star Trek Encyclopedia! Woohoo!

Star Trek - 50 Artists 50 Years

A book that collects the work of artists from around the world as well as famous fans, all contributing to an incredible visual array of posters, photos, sculptures, comic strips, textiles and much more to commemorate Star Trek's half-century of exploring the final frontier. 


  1. This is great news - Modiphius seem to handle licenses well and hire writers who know what they're doing. While I was never interested in the Infinity, Conan or Mutant Chronicles games, I was a backer for the Kickstarters of both Achtung! Cthulhu and the Thunderbirds board game and they're both well-written and presented and make great games.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the 2d20 - it's nothing to do with D&D d20. Looking at, it seems to be a cinematic system designed to give players the chance to gamble resources against better success. Sounds a lot like Savage Worlds or the new 7th Sea system.

    1. Hmmm. Your description gives me mixed feelings (not a Savage Worlds fan - I know I'm pretty much alone there). At the same time, if it does enable you to manage resources, if that is an approach you can take to achieve a more cinematic feel, I'm willing to be I can make that work.

      OK, definitely nothing negative here. Mostly positives with an air of cautious optimism.

  2. Hi,
    Passing by, but thought I put in a good word for the Modiphus guys.
    These guys are based in my home town of London and while fairly fresh already made a good name for themselves primarily due to very successful and very very well run Kickstarter campaigns - that's the platform they used to deliver most of their products. All of which have been published and delivered on time with well-planned product lines and realistic release schedules. Both Achtung Cthulhu and new Mutant Chronicles have very high production values and while the latter rehashes loads of previously published material they do adapt that to their system and clean up the whole thing updating the game to modern standards. New Conan game hasn't been released yet (GenCon likely) but they have already commissioned some of the best artists of the genre with cover art by Brom himself - again previous show very high product values. Worth noting that the new ST game is not going to be Kickstarted and they are financing it themselves but I strongly suspect their approach and dedication will be the same. I cannot comment much on their 2d20 system - had only skimmed through MC core book - but it does appear to be low crunch and straightforward - given that they use it in both futuristic and fantasy settings suggests it is flexible enough. I would definitely have a look at one of the previous to get the idea what the system is about and if it fits your preferences.
    New StarTrek rpg is great news and I am like you pretty jaded with the new ST universe - full of splosions and lens flare but somehow lacking depth - although perhaps the same can be said about most of ST feature films. Sometimes I think this is is the franchise that shines in TV series format and does not work on the big screen primarily because producers think they need to come up with this massive plot idea to make it work surpassing any of the scenarios featured in the episodes and by doing so they end up with something completely ludicrous. TV series had its share of wtf moments certainly but you can get away with it because there is the next week episode and there is lots of them so the true gems shine even brighter - that's how I prefer my StarTrek in small occasionally brilliant bits. Looking at the new game features they seem to lean towards the series format which looks very promising - so best of luck to them and kudos for securing the license. I hope the game will stand up to mine and your expectations and allow you and your friends To Boldly Go Where No [Gaming Group] has Gone Before. All the best.

    1. Thank you Voidman, I appreciate you coming by, and I appreciate the sentiments you put forth.

      It's difficult being an old school Star Trek fan in this new school era, but I will say that in my opinion I am more than an old school fan. I am a multi-era fan. I loved the Original Series and their films, the Next Generation and some of theirs, Deep Space Nine is my favorite after TOS, and Enterprise had as many really high highs as it had lows. While I am not a fan of Voyager overall, I can appreciate that there are those who like it.

      When you have that much love for that much stuff, you maybe begin to feel a sense of ownership, of entitlement, but really it's more a love of something you that has stood by you, and loved you back. It's a relationship of sorts.

      When you think the relationship is over, when you think the thing you loved has changed so much you don't feel the same way about it anymore, it can be painful.

      This game gives me hope.

      I remain positive about this product, open and adaptable to its approach, and curious to see what this baby can do.


  3. I haven't played with the Modiphius games, just skimmed through the rules, but I have a bad vibe about the system. It looks it has a great base mechanic and then proceeds to ruin it by adding a lot of small bits and meta-gaming. Just like the previous games from Jay Little, Warhammer Fantasy 3rd ed. and the FFG Star Wars, which I have played and feel as if they could be a lot better than they are just by throwing away a lot of things. But, as I said, I haven't played any of the 2d20 games, so don't take my opinion very seriously. I will surely take a deeper look at Infinity when it comes out, since I think my best friend (who likes a lot FFG Star Wars) may love it. For once, its (slight) manga inspiration doesn't bother me in any way, it is Sci-Fi, and we will have a Spanish version, since the wargame/setting it is based on is a Spanish creation.

    Speaking of which, since the new Star Trek game most likely won't come out in Spanish (which is not relevant for me, but it is for the group) and I have found that Far Trek ( ) really suits me, whatever I think about the new game is unimportant. I'll prefer it to be succesful, but it won't affect me.

    I hope you can find something useful in all this babble I just wrote XD.

    1. I'm so dedicated to Last Unicorn's ICON System, and so nostalgic over FASA Star Trek, I'll admit that any game is going to have a hard time convincing me that they're better than one of those.'s possible.

      I wondered if perhaps the new Star Trek RPG would be reminiscent of the new Star Wars RPG. As in, these represent the design philosophy of such adaptions in this day, and age.

      When you say, "It won't affect me" what do mean? Are you saying that no matter what the game is like you'd still prefer Far Trek, or you don't expect to play Star Trek again anytime soon, or something else?

    2. A bit of everything:
      - I'm having trouble to find a spot to play my Star Trek game since the player who played the captain deserted the campaign. It is on indefinite hiatus :( .
      - I'll stick to Far Trek. I already switched systems two times and I have been criticised for it. Besides, I really like Far Trek's approach, even though I am more a Next Generation fan.
      - I doubt this game will offer enough to my needs to get into it. But I could be wrong.

      I'll like to note that Modiphius best known work, Achtunch! Cthulu, is for both Savage Worlds and Call of Chtulhu instead of an independent game.

    3. An interesting point to note. Thanks for the insight Miguel. I hope you get to return to your game, or that it perhaps germinates into a new iteration.

  4. I have not played the 2d20 system but I have read it in the form of Mutant Chronicles and I am not a fan. I'm a big Conan fan and I wanted nothing to do with the kickstarter once I saw they were using it for that. Using it for Star Trek makes even less sense to me. Here's a quote from "Water Bob" on En World a few months back that sums it up for me:
    But, to answer your question in simplest terms: a player can have his character be "heroic" by buying extra dice to throw on a task. Whether successful or not, the cost of these extra dice (that makes it easier to succeed at hard tasks) is in points paid to the Game Master. An early suggestion was to use buttons to represents these points the players spent, where the GM would collect them and keep them in a jar on the table. As the players spent more and more points so that their characters could accomplish hard tasks or pull off "heroic" maneuvers, the tension at the table is supposed to rise as the players see that jar of buttons grow in number.

    The GM can, at any time he wants, use the points (the buttons), to increase the abilities of foes (give them special maneuvers and such) or "buy" additional foes to add to an encounter--or even add other obstacles, like a poison needle trap on a locked chest.

    Basically, the more heroic the players tend to be, the more ammo a GM has to make things more difficult for the characters to succeed.

    There are several long-time gamers (me included) who roll our eyes at this gimmicky system. The mechanics were written by the same person who authored the FFG Star Wars game. But, that game has a meta-game aspect to it in something called The Force. The 2d20 rules were written originally for Modiphius' Mutant Chronicles game, but that game, also, has a meta-game aspect to it similar to The Force in Star Wars. Modiphius has decided that this 2d20 system will be altered and sandwiched into every game it publishes, using 2d20 as their House System. What the company has failed to recognize is that the system does not work well with game universes where there is no Force-like meta-game aspect.

    Conan's Hyborian Age is an universe that does not mesh well with this type of game mechanic. Why should Conan face more numerous and better foes at the climax of an adventure just because he was heroic in an early scene of the adventure?

    Or, better yet, why should Conan fight more numerous, more powerful foes and have to overcome more obstacles in the middle of the adventure because one of his companions, who is no longer with Conan, attempted to be heroic two days ago in another town? Because that's how the meta-game point system works. A player in one game session could constantly try to be heroic, piling up the points in the button jar, and the GM can wait to use those points three game sessions later, when the players are in a totally different part of the story, and the player who generated most of the button points didn't even show up for the current session.

    Yes, the system is way too Meta-gamey, in my opinion, and not a good choice for Howard's Hyborian Age at all.

    I've heard that even some of the game's writers don't like the system either, but they've got not choice. They've got to use the system as it is Modiphius' House System.

    Like I said, I haven't played it, but players giving points to the GM for doing cool stuff seems backwards compared to the GM giving points to the players for doing cool stuff. It seems like a debt instead of a reward. For a grimmer, noir-ish type game (MC can be pretty dark) it might make sense but for Trek? I don't think so, unless it has changed dramatically.

  5. I also agree with you about the 50th anniversary in general. It doesn't really feel that big.
    - Another movie that's looking like one more in the series, nothing special.
    - A new show -next year_ which doesn't really count for this anniversary year.
    - A retro Federation mini-expansion for STO
    - Some art book type stuff but it's not like we haven't had those for years
    - Clamping down on fan work feels like the opposite of a celebration, so nice job there corporate legal and PR teams!

    There's nothing new here. There's nothing revolutionary. How about launching a new series THIS YEAR? How about announcing something like the EU for Star Wars where you're going to try and have a unified supplemental canon? How about some big new anniversary videogame for the main consoles? Not a movie tie-in, but something tied to all of Trek? How about some kind of big special TV thing where you gather all of the main cast actors who worked on all of the Trek series and let them talk. Something outside the routine, beyond one more release in a series of releases?

    In comparison I thought WOTC underplayed the 40th anniversary of D&D quite badly but hey, at least they released a new edition of the game that year, one that had a lot of nods to the previous life of the game.

    I thought Ford did pretty well with the 50th anniversary of the Mustang with lots of tributes and events and they too released a whole new model of the car.

    Having a 50th anniversary of a bigtime franchise and not doing something epic with it is just incredibly disappointing.

  6. I wonder how it'll play. Boy, if I wasn't already planning a long-running campaign...

  7. Huh. I'm probably more of a Trek fan now than I've been since I was a kid, so this kind of news is interesting to me. I've never had the opportunity to play ANY Trek RPG (though I have a hard copy of Far Trek waiting for me back in the's been the best model for Trek that I've read to date) so I can't say which system is my preference for play. I am completely unfamiliar with Modiphius and their 2D20 system.