Star Trek Adventures

Our (semi-)weekly Star Trek Adventures campaign has been completed, after twelve sessions. I made session reports, the first of which you can find here, and each report links to the next one.

I quite like how the game played. I have no idea whether that was because of the rules-system or because of our GM. Thanks to Roll20 automating almost all of the dice rolls, I never had to engage with the rules themselves other than selecting a few options in the sheet and clicking a button! That really made it easy to play as a casual player.

But there were some subsystems that we, as players, engaged with directly. I really liked the Momentum mechanic: you can ‘bank’ extra successes on a skill roll as Momentum, which can be used later to get extra dice (for an extra chance of success) or to make a success worth ‘more’. This is especially important when gathering information, such as using the ship’s sensors to find something out. In tone, it is similar to the Advantage you could get in the new Star Wars games (though those have to be spent immediately) or the FATE mechanic of creating an advantage or Aspect for another player to exploit. And I quite like mechanics of those sort: it’s like the ‘tide of battle’ being with the characters, and it rewards cooperation between the characters, since you can pass the Momentum to the next character. That’s also very in-genre: the crew works together towards a common goal!

I also liked the Values/Determination mechanic. Each character has some Values, and when you try to do something that is aligned with one of your Values, you can spend a point of Determination (you get 1 per session if you have none left) to get two automatic successes. But it gets even more interesting when you think of doing something opposed to one of your Values — and the GM may tempt you with a point of Determination to do so! Next session, you will need to come up with a new Value to replace the one that turned out to be opposed to your character’s goals. A really nice way to reward character development.

Maybe it was just this scenario with this GM, but I think the majority of our skill rolls were actually to gather information one way or the other. I don’t know if that is how the game is designed, but it is very thematic: in episodes of the TV series, most of the time is spent on getting information, deducing what is going on based on that information, formulating a strategy and only then springing into action to execute on that. So using a point of Momentum turned out to be almost always worth it: the extra information allowed us to formulate better strategies.

While the system is good and fast, where it really bogs down is in combat. In the whole campaign, we had one spaceship battle and one “in person” fight, and both bogged down significantly. Sometimes it’s really lethal, at other times it’s a drawn-out slugfest. It doesn’t play fast, which is totally not in line with our experience with the rest of the system. But that’s not too bad: it’s not a large part of the game, which is also in line with the source material. But on the other hand, it’s a missed chance: wouldn’t it be cool to play out a large space battle and have your characters affect the outcome? But with the system as it is, a single round of space combat between larger ships is just too slow, totally killing the mood.

There might be a sequel, what with some of the officers getting a good promotion…

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