What Do I Know About Reviews? Star Trek Adventures Enterprise Player Characters
I haven’t had as much of a chance to mention it on the blog, but I’ve been running Star Trek Adventures for a while now, and really enjoying the system. From a mental health standpoint, I’m enjoying running games in a future where humanity gets it collective act together and works for the greater good, and from a creative standpoint, I enjoy the challenge of running game sessions that feel “Star Trek.”
I was recently sent a review copy of the Star Trek Adventures Enterprise Player Characters, and I thought I would take some time to look at it. While this product was sent to me as a review copy, in the past, I have purchased the Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager Player Character products.
Class Four Probe
This product is a 16 page PDF, with a cover, title page, index, and three pages of ads. The ads are for other STA products, other Modiphius products, and a Star Trek mobile game ad. There is a printer friendly and a full color version included in the download.
The standard Star Trek Adventures book assumes a TNG era setting, but has provisions for playing in other eras. Because of this, the core books are committed to the LCARS formatting to make the whole book look like the computer displays in the TNG era series. The Original Series Player Character product uses formatting that looks more like the 1960s series, and this one also uses a different formatting, which matches the display aesthetic of the Enterprise series.
The core rulebook presents the default of the TNG era, but also references how to use material in both the Original Series and Enterprise era. Most of this support comes in the form of statistics for vehicles from various eras, as well as notes on what cultures the Federation has contacted at what point in time.
I think it’s fair to say that the Enterprise era has gotten the least attention in the product line. We may get some older Romulan or Orion ships in supplements, but even the adventure anthologies usually skew towards the Original Series or TNG era, with notes on adapting adventures to the Enterprise era.
This product contains statistics for the following characters:
- Captain Jonathan Archer
- Commander T’Pol
- Commander Charles Tucker III
- Lieutenant Malcom Reed
- Lieutenant Hoshi Sato
- Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Doctor Phlox
- Commander Thy’lek Shran
- Enterprise NX-01
Previous products have included statistics for extraordinary characters native to the show. For example, the TNG product had rules for playing androids, DS9 contained rules for Changelings, and Voyager had rules for both emancipated Borg drones and holographic characters. This product is more like the Original Series product, in that it doesn’t introduce any new player character options for original characters, mainly because most of the important characters belong to societies that were foundational to the Federation, and already have entries in the core rulebook.
I appreciated the inclusion of Commander Thy’lek Shran, the Andorian that became the bridge to communicating information about the culture in the series. Part of why I included an Andorian captain in my own Star Trek Adventures game is due to the groundwork that Enterprise laid for the culture.
While the NX-class ship has appeared in other products, the version presented here reflects some of the unique modifications made to the ship over the course of the series, as well as the special titles that ship acquired, in the form of Traits.
Stats and Famous Characters
I wrote in a review of one of the FFG Star Wars products that I’m usually disappointed when a game product takes up space giving me statistics for famous characters from the IP, because I’m going to be making my game about my characters. Allow me to both backtrack and provide some context.
It isn’t uncommon for the resolution of a Star Wars conflict to end with someone becoming one with the Force (you know, dying). Lines are usually more clearly drawn, where you are either for or against the protagonists. Additionally, Star Wars tends to be a Saga, i.e. characters do big things that build on other big things (even if some of those big things are just bigger versions of previous things).
Star Trek is a little more like a comic book. Many stories are episodic, so it actually makes perfect sense to play a one shot with characters that you are familiar with, in an episode that we just haven’t seen previously. Additionally, guest stars from other series are a trope within Star Trek. Characters that were important in one series often show up later in another series.
Additionally, conflict in Star Trek is often ideological, and while morality and ethics are important, traditionally there is a bit more nuance to some decisions. That means that characters may come into conflict with famous NPCs about how to handle a situation, without whipping out phasers or bat’leths to settle the conflict.
Given that the core game already accounts for playing supporting characters when a player’s main character isn’t available in a given scene, its even fairly easy to have a “guest star” available as a temporary supporting character.
For all of those reasons, I think stats for specific, named characters are a lot more useful in a Star Trek Adventures game than a Star Wars game. I want someone like Sela to show up in a Star Trek game for the same reason I want Doctor Doom to show up in a Marvel game, or Lex Luthor to show up in a DC game. She’s likely to be a recurring problem, rather than a boss fight.
I love the evocative formatting on these products. I helps to get someone reading them into the proper mindset, but I also appreciate that there are printer friendly versions of the file, in case you want to print these out for a one shot (I mean, I don’t know why you would do that, because who would ever game face to face . . . 2020, what have you done to us?). While the game itself isn’t so rules heavy that “builds” are tricky, I do like seeing how the designers frame the values of a character. I’m really happy to see an important ancillary character show up in the form of Shran.
A Note in Your Service Record
I understand why, but compared to some of the other Star Trek Adventures Player Character products, you don’t get the additional value of more player options. While I don’t expect this product to provide it, the framework for running a game in the Enterprise era is a lot thinner in the game in general, although this product in and of itself is a step towards fleshing it out.
Qualified Recommendation–A product with lots of positive aspects, but buyers may want to understand the context of the product and what it contains before moving it ahead of other purchases.
This is a solid product that does what it says it will, and provides you with stats for the Enterprise crew from the cast of the show. They will be great to use for a one shot and for context of who the characters are, in context of other characters from the Star Trek universe.
That said, there isn’t the additional “kicker” to purchase this beyond the player character stats. Beyond a holodeck or time travel shenanigans (which, to be honest, are viable options), you are less likely to use these characters in later eras.
Would the end of a review be a bad time to actually mention to Modiphius that I would pay for separate “era” sourcebooks for the Enterprise era and the Original Series that highlights exactly what is and isn’t in play, and the kinds of themes to play up in addition to the standard Star Trek feel?