What Do I Know About Reviews? Star Trek Adventures Mission: Lurkers (2d20)
I love Star Trek, and one of my favorite Star Trek series of recent years has been Lower Decks. I’ll admit that when the series was first announced, I was worried about an extreme, over-the-top adult comedy series that would ridicule me for my love of Star Trek. Instead, while there is definitely some weird gross-out humor from time to time, it really is a loving comedic show that still manages to capture what many people love about Star Trek. It manages to celebrate Trek without minimizing the impact it has made on many people.
Recently, Modiphius announced that their license for the Star Trek Adventures RPG has expanded to incorporate Lower Decks. While there is a Lower Decks sourcebook on the way, Modiphius has already released the first Lower Decks-related products, digital releases for the Star Trek Adventures Lower Decks Season 1 Crew Pack, and a Star Trek Adventures Mission Profile that is Lower Decks themed, called Lurkers. Today we’re going to take a look at Lurkers.
Disclaimer: I haven’t had the opportunity to play or run this adventure, but I am familiar with Star Trek Adventures both as a GM and a player. I was not provided with a review copy of this product, but purchased it myself for this review.
Star Trek Adventures Missions 023: Lurkers
2d20 System Designer Nathan Dowdell
Project Manager Jim Johnson
Writing Christopher L. Bennett
Editing Jim Johnson
Graphic Design Chris Webb & Stephanie Katz-Barnes
Art Direction Ariel Orea & Jim Johnson
Interior Artwork CBS Studios, Inc.
Proofreading Keith Garrett
What’s On The Isolinear Chips?
This adventure is 21 pages long, including a credits page, a table of contents, and two pages of ads for other Modiphius Star Trek Adventures products. The formatting matches the pseudo-LCARS display that is present in the Next Generation era releases. The pages are arranged in a two-column layout. The artwork includes images from the TV series, including members of the crew spacewalking, shots of a space station, and an image of a California class starship.
If you have never looked at Star Trek Adventures missions, most of them are set up in a similar manner. The mission has an introduction, which also sets up where the PCs start the adventure. This includes the mission objectives that the PCs will be striving to achieve. There are a number of acts, and then a section on the conclusion of the adventure. Often, the mission will include a mission brief with a similar theme, possibly one that can chain off the events of the mission.
In addition to the mission directives, there is almost always a section called “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” which gives tips on running the adventure in different eras, although there are times when this section will call out what may not work in a different era at all. This particular adventure also includes an “Adjusting the Tone of this Mission,” which is about making the adventure less comedic than initially assumed. Both of these sections tend to be limited to a single paragraph.
The Three-Act Story
Unlike other Star Trek missions, the PCs are assumed to be “Lower Decks” characters, meaning that they don’t hold roles like the commanding officer or department leads. This means that the PCs will often be ordered to perform several missions, and most of the decision points will be about how they execute the orders they have been given.
The adventure starts with the PCs being sent to repair a communication relay, which leads to the discovery that the relay has been accidentally sending information to a planet within three lightyears of the relay. This has led to cultural contamination, as the people on the planet have now become Star Trek . . . er . . . Starfleet mission log fans. The PCs are faced with the decision of finishing their repairs before reporting this cultural contamination.
The player characters will be sent to the planet to do reconnaissance. This entails the PCs attending the equivalent of a Star Trek convention. This will give them the opportunity to interact with various NPCs of importance on the planet who may help or hinder their ability to erase the Starfleet data from the planet’s Library computer.
The Library computer is near the location of the “convention,” which gives the PCs the opportunity to access the data they need to erase. Since the PCs will have the opportunity to interact with local NPCs, this gives the GM the opportunity to make the case to the locals for how to accomplish their mission. For example, some NPCs will argue that everything they have already learned should be left alone, because the contamination has already happened, and the loss of the data could be argued as outside interference harming the culture that has already been contaminated. Other NPCs will advocate a radical excision of all data, because they have adopted Starfleet’s respect for the Prime Directive, even to their own detriment.
If the PCs decide to only delete the classified information that the planet hasn’t accessed yet, they will get to make the argument to their superior officers how their actions are in keeping with the Prime Directive in this unique instance.
Most of the action in the adventure will involve the work track to repair the information relay at the beginning, and instances of either sneaking past or directly taking on the guards for the library computer section. There is one section of the adventure where the PCs might take a shortcut and run into a guard creature, but this isn’t the only way to gain access to the location. It would definitely be possible to complete this adventure without firing a single phaser.
The mission brief structure is single page, outlining some major beats, NPCs the PCs should encounter, and the conclusion to the mission. This is a much more free form outline for an adventure. In this case, it involves another communications relay that the PCs will need to visit. The relay may appear to be “haunted,” because local criminals have been using the relay station as a base from which to deal in a substance that causes people to move at higher speed, out of phase with regular time.
The local law enforcement has a means of forcing people into phase, at the risk of doing physical harm to them, meaning that the PCs may want to talk them out of this solution, looking for a less radical means of dealing with the compound, which is naturally harmful to organic beings.
This feels like a very solid adventure, even without attempting to evoke the humor of Lower Decks. It touches on similar themes as the Voyager episode Living Witness, which showed how a society viewed the stories of Voyager from 700 years in the future, or All The World’s A Stage from Star Trek Prodigy, which has a similar theme of a planet creating pop culture around the mission logs left over from a shuttle from the first NCC-1701 Enterprise. It’s a flexible structure that introduces interesting decision points, and NPCs with enough detail to make them useful to the GM.
The biggest issue I can see with this adventure is that since it assumes the PCs aren’t the decision makers on the ship, they might not look for alternate ways to resolve situations. They might take the most obvious path, even when presented with opposing viewpoints from NPCs, because they aren’t at the top of the command structure. There is also a section where the decision to inform the ship of the cultural contamination before or after the repairs are done feels a little bit like a false choice point to let the PCs get chewed out Lower Decks-style if they don’t do what the Captain has decided was the best course of action.
Recommended–If the product fits in your broad area of gaming interests, you are likely to be happy with this purchase.
Much like Lower Decks, this feels like a solid Star Trek mission that is pushed just a little bit toward the extreme and slightly ridiculous, but still possible. It remains very easily usable for Star Trek Adventures games that aren’t attempting to emulate Lower Decks, by making a few tweaks. For example, if the planetary government restricted access to the data but allowed it to be presented in fictionalized form through media companies. It’s a solid and flexible addition to the list of missions available for Star Trek Adventures.
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