Welcome to the sixth in an occasional series called It Builds Character in which I use the character generation rules of various tabletop role-playing games to create a character and attempt to flesh them out into something distinctive.
It Builds Character #6: Star Trek Adventures
For the latest entry in the series, I’ll be using the rules of Modiphius Entertainment’s Star Trek Adventures RPG, which is set in the Star Trek galaxy. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you have at least a passing familiarity with that setting.
This isn’t the first iteration of a Star Trek RPG, and I have fond memories of Last Unicorn Games’ Deep Space Nine RPG from late 1999/Early 2000.
Since the canon Star Trek universe covers the year’s from the launch of the NX-01 Enterprise in 2151 in the Enterprise episode “Broken Bow” through to the end of Star Trek Nemesis in 2379 in the ‘Prime’ timeline as well as alternative versions of the years 2233-2263 in the ‘Kelvin’ timeline reboot movies, then Star Trek Adventures has to zero in on a specific time period for simplicity’s sake (I’m sure other time periods will be covered in supplements, etc.) and it does so, Opting to take place in the year 2371 in the ‘Prime’ timeline, roughly contemporaneous with Season 3 of Deep Space Nine and the first season of Voyager. The game does include suggestions on how to adapt to earlier time periods, though.
I have an approximate idea for a character, and since that character would fit nicely into Starfleet, I have to assume that the character creation process should be able to spit out that character fairly easily. There are two methods for generating characters introduced in the fifth chapter of the rule, either using a “Lifepath” methodology or generating them during play. While the latter sounds intriguing, I don’t have a local group to play yet,so the former method will work better with this article. So let’s take a look at our character’s Lifepath.
Step 0: Default Scores
The first step isn’t really a step at all, but each character starts with 6 Attributes each starting at 7. Those attributes are: Control, Fitness, Presence, Daring, Insight, and Reason. I’d say this are mostly self-explanatory,but that’s never stopped me before. Control covers self-control, precision and discipline type situations. Fitness covers physical conditioning including endurance and general strength. Presence is basically force of personality or how persuasive/diplomatic the character is. Daring represents bravery and gut instinct type situations. Insight covers a character’s empathy, wisdom and experience of situations. Reason covers a character’s analytical abilities. In addition to the 6 Attributes, each character starts with 1 point in each of 6 Disciplines. The disciplines are roughly equivalent to Federation training tracks and are Command, Security, Science, Conn, Engineering, and Medicine. So that’s our base, and now it’s time to start applying our Lifepath to these defaults to form a a character around them.
Step 1: Species
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first step that we apply is figuring out what species the character is, since the galaxy of Star Trek has an awful lot of aliens in it. Since the game kind of assumes that the characters are part of a Starfleet crew, we only have Federation or Federation-adjacent races to choose from. There are 8 races in total, but I’ve decided that my character is going to be a Trill, so that’s the species I choose.
This gives various benefits and drawbacks. The first benefit is +1 to my Control, Presence and Reason attributes, bringing all of those to 8.
Being a Trill also gives me a species Trait. Since my Trill will not be a joined Trill (see a little bit later), they gain improved resistance to parasitic infection but suffer from stronger allergic reactions to insect bites and venom, a consequence of them being adapted for symbiosis.
Additionally, at this stage, the character gains a Talent. There are a lot to choose from, but there are two that are only available to Trill at the character creation stage, and I opt for one of those. Specifically, I opt for the Former Initiate challenge, which means that this Trill went through the process to be selected as part of the Symbiosis program, but wasn’t able to complete that program. This manifests as a slight benefit for certain Control or Reason tasks.
Step 2: Environment.
The next step for our Star Trek Adventures character is to determine how they have been affected by the environment they were raised in. Since I didn’t have a concrete idea of the type of environment I wanted my Trill to have in their background, I opted to roll a D6 on the environment table rather than just choose the most appealing option as I had for the species. A roll of ‘4’ and this Trill grew up o a Frontier Colony. The game suggests that makes my character a little more hardy, and perhaps a touch more stubborn. This is represented in the game by a Value which is a credo, motto, or personal value that the character lives by,and is clearly used as a role-playing aid. Values are very free form, and I decide that this experience has made the Trill very aware of the importance of co-operation so give them a value of “None can stand alone.” As part of this background, I can increase either Control or Fitness. I opt for Fitness, bringing that to 8. I’m also able to increase one of the Conn, Security or Medicine disciplines. I opt for Medicine, so the Trill now has 2.
Step 3: Upbringing
Similar to the character’s environment, how they were raised within that environment affects their Lifepath. Again, there’s an option to roll for the upbrigning, but this time I choose it. This Trill was brought up in a Science and Technology path on their Frontier Colony. They didn’t rebel against such an upbringing, which means that they gained 2 points to their Control attribute (bringing it up to 10) and 1 point to their Reason attribute (bringing that up to 9). Because of that Science focus, I can raise one of the Trill’s disciplines, either Conn, Engineering, Science or Medicine. I decided that the Frontier Colony this Trill was raised on was used as an observation post for monitoring a pre-Warp species, and so a lot of maintenance had to be done to keep the facilities hidden from the native planet life, so that manifests as a point of Engineering discipline, bringing that to 2 points. It also means that the character gains a Focus on Xenobiology. The character also gains a further Talent as part of this upbringing. Looking through the ones that make the most sense, I opt for Constantly Watching, since the character would have to always be vigilant to make sure they’re not observed by the pre-Warp species. In game terms, this gives the Trill a slight advantage in detecting danger or hidden enemies.
Step 4: Starfleet Academy
Now we know what the character went through before the Federation/Starfleet got their grubby little mitts on them, it’s time to see what happened to them at Starfleet Academy. Again, you can roll to decide what track the character ends up on, but given what I’ve established about this Trill thus far, it made more sense to just choose the right track, and so we opted for the Operations track. This first manifests itself as a Value. I actually like one of the sample ones suggested: “Exploring to Test New Theories,” and go with that. It also gives 3 points to spend on any attributes I choose, but no more than 2 can be spent on a single attribute. I spend 2 on Reason (bringing that to 11) and 1 on Insight (which is now 8).
The character also increase their Disciplines here. First they need to choose either Security or Engineering as their major, which results in a +2 increase. Given my character’s background so far, I go for Engineering (which now has a score of 4, the Maximum any discipline can have at this stage). I can select 2 other Disciplines as minors and increase those by 1 each. Given his previously established Xenobiology interest, 1 of those minors is Medicine (bringing that score upto 3) and the other ends up being Science (bringing that up to 2). The character also gains 3 Focuses, one of which should be related to Operations on some level. For that one, I opt for Infiltration. For the two other focuses, I go for Emergency Medicine and Computers. The character also gains another Talent. In this case, that Talent is Intense Scrutiny, which helps with extended tasks that rely on Reason or Control.
Step 5: Career
So, how long ago was the character at Starfleet Academy? There’s no rolling here, the game gives you three choices to choose from: Young Officer, Experienced Officer, or Veteran Officer. I plump for the middle option, feeling like the colony backstory doesn’t give the character enough time to have been a true Starfleet lifer, and that the character has too many hard edges to be truly a Young officer. So this Trill is an Experienced Officer. This provides one Value, which I decide is “Friend to all Cadets,” the character also gets a Talent, which in this case is Field Medicine.
Step 6: Career Events
In contrast to the prior step, the game recommends rolling for this step, presenting a D20 table that characters should roll on twice, and then apply the effects of those rolls. I roll an 18 – Solved An Engineering Crisis and a 5 – Required To Take Command.
Solved an Engineering Crisis asks “What technology malfunctioned and why was it dangerous?” I decide that it was some kind of camouflage or cloaking technological failure which could lead to a disastrous violation of the Prime Directive, and the question “How did the character solve the problem?” was answered by jury-rigging the transporters to supplement the camo with transportation patterns of organic matter to act as visual shielding. It’s pretty basic, but could be elaborated into something more interesting either later, or while interacting with a Game Master and talented crew mates. This increases the characters Control attribute to 11, and their Engineering discipline to 5. This also grants the character another Focus, which really should be Transporters based on this history.
Required to Take Command asks “What was the mission? What went wrong?” I decide it was a routine mineral survey/sensor sweep mission, that resulted in a parasitic infection taking hold among the crew of the vessel, something that the character’s Trill biology allowed them to not succumb to, making the character the highest ranking non-incapacitated crew. It also asks “Was the mission successful despite the loss of the leader?” I decide it wasn’t, as the character more or less immediately abandoned the mission to return their craft to the nearest Starbase for medical and hospital treatments. This increases the character’s Daring attribute to 8, and his Command discipline to 2. The character gains another Focus, in this case Compusure.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
The first finishing touch is to add another Value. this time I go with “Death is the easy option. Really living, that’s the hard way.”
The second of the Finishing Touches is to make sure that no Attributes are above 12 only one can be 12. So far, the character’s attributes are
Control: 11, Fitness: 8, Presence: 8, Daring: 8, Insight: 8, Reason: 11
Which are within the limits. Next I get to increase any 2 of those Attributes by 1 point, still adhering to only one can be 12 rule. I opt o boost Insight & Presence both to 9.
You then do something similar with the Disciplines, but there can be none higher than 5, and only one 5. The character has the following disciplines
Command: 2, Security: 1, Science: 2, Conn: 1, Engineering: 5, Medicine: 3
I only have one at 5, and I can raise any two of the others by a point each. I decide to increase Medicine to 4 and Science to 3.
Now it’s time for some final checks.
Apparently the sum of the Attributes should be 56. Let’s see (11+8+9+8+9+11) = 56, so that’s good.
The sum of the Disciplines should be 16. Let’s see (2+1+3+1+5+4) = 16, also good.
Supposed to have 4 Values:
- “None Can Stand Alone”
- “Exploring To Test New Theories”
- “Friend To All Cadets”
- “Death is the easy option. Really living, that’s the hard way.”
Supposed to have 4 Talents:
- Former Inititiate
- Constantly Watching
- Intense Scrutiny
- Field Medicine
Apparently, I should have picked up 6 different Focuses:
- Emergency Medicine
That would be 6.
Apparently there are some derived scores, including Stress, which is (Fitness + Security) or in this character’s case: 9 My damage bonus is apparently 1 Starfleet logo.Now, time to figure out a few personal details. I decide that this Trill is male, and his name will be Malko Inazin (though I’m always open to better alternatives that still sound Trill-like) and is roughly equivalent to 40 human years old. (I see no evidence that unjoined Trill hosts live any longer than humans, but I’m hedging my bets with that description). He’s kind of a gruff guy, but is always willing to lend a hand to anyone, especially those personnel found among the lower decks or among the wet-behind-the ears new recruits. He sports a fiercely disciplined crew cut, with slight sideburns fading into his Trill spots, which do indeed continue all the way down.
Based on his Discipline and his role as a main character within the story, Malko is clearly the Chief Engineer among the crew of his ship, and has enough medical training he can sub in for ahead nurse or deputize a Chief Medical officer where necessary, avoiding the need for his ship to have an Emergency Medical Hologram installed. Malko Inazin has never particular sought promotions or advancement, and so is more than content to rank as a Lieutenant.
For starting equipment, Lieutenant Malko Inazin has his uniform (Early Deep Space Nine/Voyager style black jumpsuit with gold divisional shoulders version), Communicator, Tricorder, a Type-1 Phaser for a sidearm (he just prefers the way it feels to the Type-2) and an Engineer’s toolkit.
It strikes me that you can’t have a true Star Trek RPG without either a ship, starbase or space station, and Star Trek Adventures provides a creation guide for those. So consider this an It Builds Character bonus section as we create the ship that Lieutenant Malko Inazin serves as the Chief Engineer aboard. Chapter 9 of the Core Rules provides a multi-step process for creating the vessel. There’s only five steps here, so we’ll go through them now.
Step 1: Service
Since we’re assuming the default setting of 2371, we only want ships that could conceivably be in service that year. Since the ship class I’m going to be selecting in the next step entered Starfleet service in 2368, I can just about fudge that. The three-year time span means that the ship is probably still on its first major mission, so we’ll keep in mind that it’s almost fresh from the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards.
Step 2: Spaceframe
Their are several example ship classes in the Core Rulebook to choose from, including just about all the “hero” ships from the preexisting Star Trek series (which doesn’t include Star Trek Discovery, likely due to publishing and production lead times). I opt for one of my favorite under-rated little ships, the Nova-class, as seen in the pilot episode of Voyager. In game terms, the default Nova-class has the following stats:
Comms: 10, Engines: 9, Structure: 8, Computers: 10, Sensors: 10, Weapons: 8
Command: -, Security: -, Science: +2, Conn: -, Engineering: +1, Medicine: –
Phaser Arrays, Photon Torpedoes, Tractor Beam (Strength 2)
Talent: Advanced Sensors
Step 3: Mission Profile
Each of the Federation’s ships have different types of missions assigned to them, and that mission heavily influences some of the design considerations for the ships in question. In the case of this particular vessel, it’s mission profile is to take part in Pathfinder and Reconnaissance Operations, assigned as it is to map making and fact finding in various solar systems near the Federation side of the infamous Romulan Neutral Zone. This results in the following Department statistics, incorporating the Spaceframe modifiers above:
Command: 2, Security: 2, Science: 4, Conn: 3, Engineering: 3, Medicine: 1
The ship also receives the Improved Reaction Control System talent.
Step 4: Refits
This vessel hasn’t been in service long enough to get any refits, so nothing changes here.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
Let’ see what we have. first of all the ship has a single Trait: Federation Starship, which it kind of, y’know, is. Systems and Departments stats are already shown above in the earlier steps, so I won’t regurgitate them here. Apparently, the ship should have Talents equal to its scale. Since the Nova-class is scale 3, but only has two Talents (Advanced Sensors & Improved Reaction Control System) currently, I guess we’d better add one more: Improved Hull Integrity.
Other statistics –
Resistance: 4 (Baseline 3 +1 for Improved Hull Integrity), Shields: 10, Power: 9, Crew Support: 3
Weapons: Phaser Arrays (5 Damage, Medium Range, Versatile 2), Photon Torpedoes (5 Damage, Long Range, High Yield
Doesn’t feel like the ship has been in service long enough to pick up any other Traits yet.
I feel like the layout of the ship’s bridge closely matches that of the U.S.S. Voyager from the eponymous series.
Now, let’s get down to the last two fun details of the ship. Its named the U.S.S. M’Clintock after Thomas M’Clintock and sports the registry number NCC-72758.
What do you think, loyal blog followers? Is this a series worth continuing? If so, are there any particular games and editions you’d like me to use to create characters?
Please leave some comments and let me know!