What Do I Know About My Campaign? Star Trek Adventures Session 0.5
My gaming group had a Session .5 this past Sunday, spending about an hour going over character creation information out loud with one another before starting a scenario. Our crew currently includes:
- Lieutenant Dodrac Ryss, Klingon Science Officer
- Lieutenant Commander Cassandra Cassidy, Human (Cyborg) Chief of Security
- Commander Kalos Hagen, Betazoid Executive Officer
- Lieutenant Junior Grade Roya Dibiri, Human (Transplanted into Android frame) Chief Engineer
I asked some questions about some of the lifepath choices for the characters, and got a few interesting bits. Dodrac’s family was close with Federation members that allied to them during the Romulan conflicts, and while not raised by humans, Dodrac holds dual citizenship, and is from Boreth, the Klingon’s monastery world.
Cassandra Cassidy was on a ship that was raided by the Breen, and in the course of discharging her duty, she was injured, and had her arm and other parts of her body replaced with cybernetics.Commander Hagen was a former ship’s councilor, who took bridge officer training. He needed to take command in a crisis, and his former captain put in for Hagen to transfer to command track. His former Captain is April Hebert, who is now the Admiral in charge of Narendra Station.
Roya Dibiri was a young engineer that sacrificed herself to save her crew by shutting down a warp core breach. Her captain put her in for a posthumous promotion, but Roya was saved by an experimental technique that uploaded her brain into a positronic matrix.
The crew has a Nova Class starship, which is a size 3 ship. For the sake of comparison, the Enterprise-E is a size 6 ship. But it can land on planets, much like Voyager. Being a size 3 ship, the group can make up to three supporting characters.The group immediately decided they wanted a person at the helm with dedicated abilities, so we made up a Caitian crewperson name Z’thors.
In the grand tradition of Star Trek pilot episodes, tonight’s session was one part of a two-parter. Everyone had made their characters before we started, so “session zero” was just spending an hour having everyone share choices and me asking some deeper questions about them.
Almost everything my players thought up played into something I wanted to use in the campaign, and that’s pretty awesome. I was riding the line a bit on dragging out the beginning, because I wanted to introduce the themes of the campaign.
I had the PCs meeting for the first time at the dedication of their ship, and I had several NPCs interact with them to express that their mission has some wider meaning. For one, they are trying to prove that Starfleet is still primarily about exploration and science.
Secondly, they are trying to prove that the Nova class starship is a viable spaceframe for Starfleet to use going forward, even if it isn’t built like a warship.
I took some inspiration from the group picking the name Odyssey for their ship, which was the name of a Galaxy Class ship destroyed by the Jem’Hadar. By naming a Nova Class science ship in honor of the Odyssey, Starfleet is trying to say it hasn’t been tainted by the incident.
The players didn’t want to run the captain, so the NPC captain they have is an Andorian who lost her ship at Wolf 359 and wanted to be assigned to an Akira class. Starfleet wants her to ease back into the captain’s chair, giving her a science vessel.
The Surprise Mission
Captain Apiri Sh’Qiahrik pulled some back-channel strings and arranged a diplomatic meeting with Orion Syndicate pirates to negotiate a deal for them to avoid the Shackleton Expanse. The ship promptly steered into an ion storm in the expanse and took a Damaged Electronics (3) complication.
When the away team went to the Orion ship to negotiate, I spent some of the Threat that had built up to create a Generally Buzzed (1) complication, from the haze of intoxicants hanging around in the ship.
The captain asked the Lt. Dabiri to create an algorithm that would allow them to charge and shoot their phasers before being detected. Lt. Commander Cassidy and Lt. Ryss detected Theragen on the Orion ship, which may have been smuggled by a Klingon to the Orions. The Klingon also found out from a Klingon general that time crystals from Boreth had been smuggled into the sector.
The Generally Buzzed condition went up to (3), and the science officer and the security chief worked together to create an antidote to the haze of narcotic smoke on the Orion ship.
Lt. Dibiri temporarily fixed the ship, and created a firing algorithm to target the Orion’s engines. The security chief took out one Orion guard, and Commander Hagen helped the Vulcan Operations Officer Supporting (Lt. Stolek, our second supporting character) to take out the remainder of the Orions.
Before things went south with the Orion negotiations, Commander Hagen convinced the Orions to let Lt. Ryss return to the Odyssey. The Klingon science officer found out that Narendra Station’s chief medical officer has ties to both theragen disposition and Boreth, for access to time crystals, and the three crewmembers still on the Orion ship were beamed back just before the Chief Engineer’s program triggers.
For me, it felt very Star Trek. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I was a little worried about the pacing, especially at the beginning with the “pair off a PC and an NPC to have an establishing conversation” setup I was using.
We also maintained a tradition tonight. Every sci-fi game I’ve ever run, the first piloting roll goes terribly. Usually, that’s a PC roll, but this time it was the Caitian helmsperson, failing to get any successes as they attempted to navigate through ion storms.
Oh, I almost forgot, the group discussion at the end of the night was, “if we survive this mission, do you think we can convince the admiral that was the XO’s mentor to court-martial the captain,” so I consider that a win.
- As someone that likes Fate, I really like the idea of being able to quickly model some aspects of the game with advantages and complications
- With some of the difficulties we ended up with due to our complications, I needed to let the players know they could succeed at a cost more often (accept more complications in order to succeed at a task when the character didn’t get enough successes)
- Combat was fast enough that we could run a quick skirmish with Orion crewmembers near the end of the night—I could have spent threat to draw out the fight, but it was more of an obstacle than a true set-piece, and I liked having the flexibility to scale things with Threat
- I really got a lot of information to tie into the plot from the character lifepaths and the follow-up questions
- I’m really hoping the players didn’t mind the introductory sections, because I wanted to make sure we had a theme going into the campaign—I’m hoping I didn’t overplay it, and going forward, we have more standard missions . . . at least after we deal with the aftermath of this mission