What Do I Know About First Impressions? Iconic Villains: Non-Player Characters (Star Trek Adventures)
I’m having a ton of fun with my Star Trek Adventures campaign, so I’m looking about just about everything that comes out for the game. It seems like the Enterprise Player Characters release just happened (it did), but now we’ve got another “characters” product, this time called Iconic Villains: Non-Player Characters.
This is “kind of” a first impression article, but I’m also going to drift into what I would have rather seen in a product like this, to give it a little more functionality. It’s probably worth noting that the cross-promotion of this product is giving stats to characters that have been released as miniatures by Modiphius.
“Computer, Display Records”
Iconic Villains is a 15-page product, and like the previous “character” releases, the individual entries are formatted to resemble the era from which the character is drawn. That means we switch from the TOS formatting at the beginning of the book, to the LCARS format in the TNG era section of the book.
Of the 15 pages, there is a title page, a table of contents, and three full-page ads at the end of the product. There are three TOS era characters, and five TNG era characters.
The villains included are:
- The Gorn Captain (TOS)
- Khan (TOS)
- General Chang (TOS)
- Q (TNG)
- Locutus (TNG)
- Lore (TNG)
- Gul Dukat (TNG)
- Borg Queen (TNG)
Most of these villains have some form of the Threatening trait, meaning they haul some extra threat with them when they show up in the scene. Only Chang, Q, and Gul Dukat lack that trait, and Q has a very similar trait called Troublesome.
I mentioned before when looking at the Enterprise Player Characters, that Star Trek Adventures is a good venue for playing one-shots with iconic characters, as well as guest appearances. This is true of villains as well, however I want to address some of these villains.
The Gorn Captain, Khan, and Chang all have very iconic encounters with the TOS series, so unless you are explicitly playing an alternate universe version of their stories, these characters have a little less functionality. This is also true of Locutus. I would also argue that Lore loses a lot of his impact as a villain if he’s not tied to Data.
Q is definitely a recurring character that has shown up across several series, but you could argue that his starts aren’t really needed for an encounter with him. Gul Dukat would be fun for multiple encounters, especially considering his role in the Dominion War, but he also appears in the Alpha Quadrant sourcebook, and the Borg Queen has definitely been a recurring character, but not only is that a major confrontation, she also appears in the Delta Quadrant sourcebook as well.
It’s also worth noting that the Enterprise era doesn’t get much love when it comes to iconic villains. In short, this is a very niche product with some overlapping content if you have been picking up the rest of the product line.
Now, I’m going to look at what I would have liked from an Iconic villains product. My criteria is to hit as many eras as possible, and to look for iconic villains that may not have had their fates determined, or that were active long enough that they could have been encountered over a period of time. With that in mind, these are some of the villains I would like to have seen in a product like this.
- Admiral Cartwright (TOS Era)
Admiral Cartwright showed up in the background in more than one movie, but turned out to be part of the Khitomer Conspiracy. He would be a good character to Impede any efforts to have lasting peace with Klingons and Romulans for a TOS era crew. Cartwright may be best utilized if he’s an impediment, but the PCs don’t actively uncover his true motives.
- Ardra (TNG Era)
Ardra was a con artist that had advanced holographic technology, allowing her to pull off impressive schemes. She was arrested, which means her fate wasn’t permanently sealed in her last appearance, and she would be a good returning villain, causing things to happen that seem overtly supernatural or extremely unlikely.
- God (TOS Era)
Okay, fine, nobody wants to touch this one, but he’s still out there, behind the barrier. What does he need with a starship? Also, you probably don’t need his stats any more than Q’s, but he’s still an existing villain that’s still out there. God is pretty iconic.
- Harry Mudd (TOS Era)
While the RPG doesn’t mention the CBS All Access series currently, Mudd has been a recurring criminal influence in multiple shows, and would be easily inserted into other campaigns. In a TOS era game, Mudd should be able to show up with all kinds of criminal schemes.
- Mirror Universe Kira Nerys (TNG Era)
I didn’t want to flood this list with mirror universe characters, but Kira Nerys appeared multiple times, and even crossed over from the Mirror Universe, so she’s one of the best recurring Mirror Universe villains.
- “Balance of Terror” Romulan Commander (TOS Era)
He’s a great strategist, and has a solid history, but he doesn’t have a name. He could easily still be out there challenging the Federation strategically. Besides, if we can get “Gorn Captain” as an iconic villain without a name, we can get one of the best Romulan characters of any series.
- Sela (TNG Era)
Sela was made to be a recurring villain, and even if the RPG isn’t going to mention the events of novels or Star Trek Online, it’s obvious that she could be around causing more problems for more crews. As a deeply ambitious Romulan operative, she should be able to cause lots of problems.
- Seska (TNG Era)
Seska has a defined “fate,” which only matters if you don’t want to alter canon, however, as a Cardassian agent undercover in the Maquis, she is wide open for causing problems for anyone dealing with Maquis plots during the TNG era before Voyager gets lost in the Delta Quadrant.
- Tolian Soran (TOS and TNG)
Soran could bridge the gap between generations (see what I did there?) because of the El-Aurian lifespan. Just because his plans finally came to fruition in the TNG era, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have other plans for returning to the Ribbon that might not have caused problems in the past.
- Vosk (ENT Era)
Vosk is a time traveler that worked with Nazis. He’s from the Enterprise series, but as a time-traveling villain, it’s pretty easy to introduce him in other eras as well, and not too hard to explain why he’s doing whatever in the campaign.
- Arik Soong (ENT Era)
An obsessive genetic engineer who was put in prison, instead of being killed off? Ties to later important characters? It’s pretty easy to use Arik for future hijinks in the Enterprise era. Even if Arik doesn’t directly appear, some of the plans he put in place might be still in motion.
- Moriarty (TNG Era)
Sure, he’s in a little computer module living out his happy life, but now that we’ve gotten more stories about holographic entities and mobile emitters, isn’t it possible that some crew might cross paths with the holographic criminal mastermind?
The actual product has a framing device that casts the device as a report on historical challenges to Starfleet crews. Each of the villains is given a quote about them from another character in Star Trek history, and then the character is given stats.
What I would have rather seen is a product that spent more time explaining the types of stories in which the villain might appear, their goals, and their typical actions. Having a few bullet-pointed schemes or plot hooks would be a great addition to any villain stats.
I definitely get the feeling that this was a “product of opportunity,” and it may not be the most widely useful product for characters seeking material for a long term campaign. I like these “character” products, but I also like a bit more of a “vision” for why the product exists, beyond just collecting stats to match a series of miniatures.