Sunday, March 11, 2018

Star Trek Adventures Character Generation

My group dove into character generation for Star Trek Adventures recently. Every one of us is a Star Trek fan and we're excited about revisiting the setting as role players. A science fiction RPG would also be a welcome change of pace for some of our players.

Star Trek Adventures assumes that the player characters will be the bridge officers of a Federation starship. The character generation system creates characters comparable to the main characters of each TV series. They are highly capable in their area of expertise and competent in a range of other skills. No character is going to be good at everything, but with each player character occupying a different bridge position, a variety of specialties will exist within a given group. This will tend to insure that everything is covered.

The game uses a lifepath system as a possible nod to FASA's Star Trek: The Role Playing Game. The system takes each character from early life through Starfleet Academy and their pre-campaign Starfleet career. Players can choose or randomly determine the results of each stage of their character's development. Questions are posed about each stage to develop the details needed to flesh out the character's background. For example, it turns out that the character's ship was destroyed earlier in their career. The obvious questions are which ship, what were the circumstances of its destruction, and what role did the character play in those circumstances? The combination of a lifepath system for inspiration and questions to provide details helps to avoid characters who are fully defined mechanically, but are blank slates for role playing.

The lifepath system can create characters ranging in experience from a fresh-from-the-Academy Ensign to a seasoned officer to a veteran Captain. All of these characters will be built with the same number of points - the main difference will be in role playing opportunities and specializations. The Ensign will be pretty good at a variety of things, but not as good at what a seasoned officer has years of training and experience in doing. Likewise, their Captain is better at leading and inspiring others than any of them.

The core book provides a diverse selection of species for players to pick from. Each species has a set of bonuses that give them a slight bias towards a particular role - it should come as no surprise that Vulcans gravitate towards Science. That said, the bonuses are small enough to be easily overcome during the rest of character generation. Humans have the advantage of being able to pick what bonuses they receive, allowing them to boost themselves towards whatever role they wish to fill.

The species available in the core book cover a range of Star Trek eras. Many species are available in all eras of play - Humans and Vulcans are always going to be around, even as early as Enterprise. Other species are only available in later eras - Trills show up during TOS and Bajorans during TNG/DS9/VOY.

The group's starship can also be created during character generation. The players select a ship class and various options to customize their specific vessel. These options include mission packages, additional equipment, and - for older ships - refits.

The ships available in the core book offer a variety of choices from different eras and intended roles. Each ship class reflects what the source material established about it - a Defiant punches way above its weight, but isn't exceptional in any other category while many of the cruisers are jacks-of-all-trades. Newer designs are naturally more technologically advanced, but refits help longer-serving starships to stay viable decades after launch.

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