Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Star Trek Renown - Remastered

Remember my posts about my recent game of Ghostbusters with the guys I used to play with back in high school? You should, they're right here. Not to mention here and here as well!

Well folks, we went and did it again; assembling the various players from the far reaches of the galaxy...OK, it was three states and two coasts...this time for Star Trek! While the original campaign was 30 years ago using the FASA Star Trek RPG, we converted everything to the Star Trek Adventures game for this very special one-shot. 

The original game, Star Trek: Renown, is very near and dear to my heart. It was one of the first (if not THE first) RPG I ran in high school. It was my way of trying to make friends. At first, it didn't really go as planned, netting only a single player. Yep, we started the campaign with myself as GM and David Concepcion as Captain Logan Hendrix, the sole PC and participant. 

Over time, other people saw us playing and wanted in. Various players would join in a temporary fashion as guest stars here and there, including my friend Pete as a reoccurring villain who got a short spin-off campaign of his own. David would tell his friends about the game, which is how I got invited into my pal William's Champions campaign. 

Around this time and a bit after the campaign was in full swing, I started running other Star Trek campaigns with other groups of friends which I placed in the same shared continuity as the voyages of the Renown. The one-shot I ran at my FLGS, which Will participated in, was one such Renown-adjacent outing into the Final Frontier. Dave played the Chief Engineer and my good friend Joe V. was the Science Officer in another with my friend Nelson as Captain. 

The Renown campaign eventually saw two or three additional players join in and lasted about three years off and on. The first year we played fairly often but in the later two we had too many other games going on and only revisited Captain Hendrix and his crew periodically. Still and all it remains an absolute favorite of mine. It featured a ship with a unique gimmick (described below), multi-faceted characters, interesting villains and mysteries, and was much more 'day in the life' as opposed to emulating a weekly television show. 

Our story starts in 2285, the same year as the events in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The USS Renown, a refit Miranda Class Cruiser, is exploring an area of space near the Azure Nebula when they detect a Romulan ship on Federation side of the nebula. The Renown hails the Romulan vessel which proceeds to fire upon the Renown and then duck into the Azure Nebula in a region below the 'galactic plane'. The Captain of the Renown orders his ship into the nebula in pursuit. 

The Azure Nebula has a number of unusual properties, not the least of which is its dimensions and location. It touches the Organian Peace Treaty Zone (aka the 'Klingon Neutral Zone'), the border of the United Federation of Planets, and the Romulan Neutral Zone. It extends below the galactic plane into unclaimed territory in a bell-shaped region referred to as the Bluebell Reach or Bluebell Sector. If the Romulan vessel could pass through the nebula all the way to the Romulan Neutral Zone it could cross back into Romulan Space and there would be nothing the Renown could do. 

Unfortunately, there are a number of navigational hazards and anomalies in the nebula as well. The stellar gases and radiation of the region interfere with starship sensors and communications in a similar way to the Mutara Nebula. There are also pockets of an unknown form of energy that can neutralize a ships power systems rendering it dead in space. The Romulans seemed familiar enough with these to be able to navigate around them. The Renown was not so lucky. 

After passing through one large area of this energy anomaly the Miranda Class vessel lost main power, the Warp Core went offline, and the ship quickly switched to auxiliary power and reserve batteries. Seeing their opponent in distress, the Romulans took advantage and fired a Plasma Torpedo that struck the Renown with devastating results! The Captain was killed and much of the bridge was a mess of wreckage and exploding consoles. 

The ship's First Officer and Chief Engineer, Commander Logan Hendrix, had been in the Engine Room at the time. He assumed command but didn't attempt to reach Deck 1. Instead, he and his team began working on his plan to get the ship enough power to get them out of the Azure Nebula alive. Using the Auxiliary Batteries, Hendrix jury-rigged a system to charge up the Impulse Engines and use them to just start the Warp Core. By bypassing numerous safety protocols and re-aligning a number of power junctures the engineers sent pulses of power to the main drive. It worked! Hendrix knew that it wouldn't last long however. 

He turned the ship around and headed back for Federation space but the Romulans caught sight of the Renown and followed them. Detecting a disturbance in the gases of the nebula, Hendrix ordered a volley of Photon Torpedoes to be fired behind them. The Romulan ship was struck by only one or two but the barrage forced them to change course and they accidentally hit the power nullifying energy pocket causing there own main drive to fail. With their opponent damaged and depowered, the USS Renown limped to the nearest starbase.

That was the campaign's prologue. The first session/episode takes place a year later. The makeshift modification Hendrix designed became the basis for the Impulse Phased Power System or IPPS, specifically designed to compensate for the Azure Nebula's dangerous anomalous conditions. Three ships, all Miranda Class, were outfitted with the IPPS as part of Operation: Deep Blue, an exploration initiative to investigate the Bluebell Reach sector. 

Logan Hendrix, now officially Captain of the Renown, was placed in charge of the operation, accompanied by the USS Daring under Captain Christine McAllister and the USS Invincible under the command of Captain Stovol. Later in the campaign addition vessels were added included two more Mirandas (the USS Redoubt and the USS Courage) and three Ranger Class Scouts (the Strider, the Pathfinder, and the Rover). 

Stand out stories and episodes include:

In the first session we encountered a 'faerie like' intelligent species called the Alfeans who desperately needed our help. Their ship had been attacked and badly damaged by brutish, aggressive beings called the Hudra, whom the Alfeans had taken pity on. The Alfeans were attempting to improve the Hudra's primitive society and low level of technology. We eventually learned that the Alfeans were the aggressors, having conquered the Hudra, who were trying to rebel against their oppressors and establish their independence. Hendrix knew something were off about the Alfeans early on and played along to find the truth. 

The Alfeans would be antagonists in several episodes. 

The Captain and crew of the Renown beamed down to a desolate planet were the S.S. Heimdall, a Daedalus Class vessel, appeared to have crashed a few decades before. The planet appeared to be haunted by the ghosts of the Heimdall's crew but in truth an alien artifact was attempting to keep their memories recorded for posterity. Hendrix was able to communicate with the artifact and transfer the knowledge of the Heimdall's demise to the Renown's computer. In the process they gained extensive information about the Azure Nebula's unique dangers.

Our heroic Captain became involved in an epic quest with none other than the Norse god of thunder, Thor! During the adventure he faced the Fenris Wolf, Frost Giants, and the trickery of Loki. Eventually Odin appeared and the Captain learned it was all a game being played by a nearly omnipotent group of energy beings calling themselves the Vanir. They both are and are empowered by a rainbow hued fire they call 'Bifrost'. We would later learn there activities may have given birth to the legends of many world's including Earth, the Klingon homeworld of Q'ononS, and others.

We met a species of small, amphibious, frog-like beings who believed themselves the largest and most powerful in known space. Seeing the crew of the Renown as monstrous giants they imprisoned the PCs and then challenged them to various feats of intellect and physical prowess. It wasn't easy winning over an entire species of beings with Napoleon complexes but it was entertaining. 

On one world the Renown crew discovered a small, not completely form 'Guardian of Forever'. The artifact or being was in an early developmental stage and did not have complete control of its temporal transfer capabilities. It spoke as the one from 'City on the Edge of Forever' did but it was merely a confused child. We had Baby Yoda before Baby Yoda.

Late in the campaign (towards the end of the original run) the Renown was hurled into another galaxy by a mysterious anomaly possibly connected to the Vanir. We spent several sessions lost in space (pun intended) until the PCs were able to rig the ship's IPPS system to generate a field that imploded the phenomenon and sent them back to the Milky Way. We were Voyager before Voyager. 

We also had numerous battles with a Romulan named Commander Herculis (pronounced Her-QUE-liss) who was the former Sub-Commander of the ship encountered in the prologue/backstory. He sought revenge for the death of his own Commander who died as a result of injuries from their battle with the Renown. 

Well, now that you're caught up, let me tell you how the reunion session went.

It all started...

Barking Alien

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