Lately, I’ve been wanting to run a Star Trek game. I spent a lot of the nineties doing one kind of Trek roleplaying or another. I still have binders full of starship and equipment blueprints, mostly focused on the Next Generation era.
For this game, though, I want to go back to the show I watched every day after school (six o’clock, channel 45) — the original series. Bright colors, fast pacing, the final frontier. I’ll also snatch some of the action-adventure from the recent movie.
Setting-wise, there are a lot of important questions. How much autonomy do the player characters have? What are my Klingons like?
There’s also the matter of system, which is what I want to focus on today. I’m tentatively using the Storytelling system, which powers the new World of Darkness. This’ll require a bit of hacking, though. Let’s walk through the character sheet.
Morality goes out the window. While Star Trek definitely has a code of values, the gothic degeneration cycle of the World of Darkness makes no sense. Your conscience doesn’t need hit points this time out.
Values and Nature
Virtue and Vice are similarly off-tone. I could just do Virtue only, but that still doesn’t seem right. First of all, let’s give characters three Values, each of which are good for one Willpower point every time they’re fulfilled. These are common to all characters from a given alliance. Federation characters get Curiosity, Compassion, and Duty. A Klingon chronicle might use Ambition, Heroism, and Ruthlessness.
Each character also gets a Nature. Once per session, fulfilling the requirement of Nature can get you all of your Willpower back. We’ll use a list derived from Exalted.
- Bravo: Make someone else back down.
- Bureaucrat: Resolve a crisis by following correct procedures.
- Caregiver: Receive tangible proof that you have helped another.
- Conniver: Lead someone to do what you want, against their initial inclination.
- Critic: Point out a significant flaw that would have caused harm if overlooked.
- Explorer: Make a significant discovery.
- Follower: Help your friends succeed by fulfilling your duty.
- Gallant: Perform a great deed that is inspiring or attention-drawing.
- Hedonist: Have an amazingly good time and bring others along for the ride.
- Jester: Lighten the mood of a dark or tense situation.
- Judge: Lead others to a just resolution.
- Leader: Others follow your decisions without significant dispute.
- Martyr: Make a significant sacrifice for a higher goal.
- Paragon: Accomplish a great deed for the greater good.
- Rebel: Defy a powerful authority.
- Savant: Use rationality and calm to resolve a crisis.
- Survivor: Survive a dangerous situation through your own cunning or determination.
- Thrillseeker: Escape a life-threatening situation… that you got yourself into in the first place.
- Traditionalist: Accomplish a goal using a tried-and-true method.
Split 7/5/4 between Mental, Physical, and Social. Keep in mind that the setting privileges Mental and Social Skills.
You could make a case for keeping the World of Darkness Skill list almost intact for Star Trek, but I think I’ll take the opportunity to do a shorter, more setting-specific list. Players get 15 points to split among the following:
- General Skills
- Close Combat
- Ranged Combat
- Department Skills
- Helm Control
Players may also assign two Specialties. An unskilled attempt for any skill under pressure is at -1. For a starship crew member, an unskilled attempt at any Department skill, given ample time and resources, may be allowed to pass with one success. So Kirk may not easily be able to coax more power from the engines himself when the ship is falling into a singularity, but given enough time, he can repair a shuttle stranded at an abandoned star base.
Merits and Flaws
I’m tempted to leave these out, but instead I’ll leave them to come back to later. A lot of the existing lists don’t really apply to this kind of chronicle, and they raise a lot of questions. Since this is mainly a non-template chronicle, should alien species be Merits?
So the next steps are whatever I’m doing with Merits and Flaws, plus expansions to what you can do with Willpower. Then maybe a lifepath system, and a starship combat engine. Any recommendations?
6 thoughts on “Storytelling Star Trek”
I’d suggest using the Merits-as-Aspects hack in Mirrors rather than Merits as they exist, with alien species that have specific mechanical effects taking from that pool of points.
I’m interested to see what your lifepath system looks like; I’ve been toying on and off with one myself.
And Hybrid could alter or knock bits off a race Merit package. (Spock is pretty much Vulcan, but lacks the doesn’t-get-worked-up bit.)
The three Values are interesting. I started thinking what Romulans are – Ruthlessness, Cunning… and I realised they’re Slytherin. And the Federation are Gryffindor. The colours even work.
I’ve been watching DS9 on Netflix Streaming lately, so I’m mentally in this space as well.
I’m curious how racial Values mesh with alliance Values. In classic Trek, the only non-racial alliance is the Federation. Granted, it’s not until TNG where you have Klingons and Romulans showing up in the Federation, but it is an interesting question.
I’d suggest two Alliance Values and one Racial Value. So, Federation would be Duty and Curiosity, but Kirk would have Compassion for the third Value while Spock would have Logic, and so on.
Yeah, I think I’ll probably go with Merits for species. I’ll think about using the Merit/Aspects from Bleeding Edge.
I think new Spock probably gets a separate Short Temper Flaw. Maybe Vulcans otherwise get a Composure bonus.
Cool we’re in the same headspace, Eddy. I like the idea of having two alliance Values and one racial Value. Of course, for most crews you’ll still end up with most characters having the Federation/human Value set.
How many species will you be statting out? Are you using the telepathy rules from Second Sight for mind-melds, etc? What’re your Andorians and Tellarites like?
(Typing as someone who’s thought about doing Trek with every system on the shelf…)
I think I’ll probably start out with Vulcans, Andorians, and, for reference, Klingons. I like Enterprise‘s Andorians — I felt they were the breakouts of the series, like Klingons for TNG and Ferengi for DS9. So I’ll use them. In general, I think I’ll stick to the TOS/TAS Federation species, unless of course somebody wants to play another one.
I’m not sure whether I’ll use Second Sight or not. I may try and do something simpler.