Tuesday, September 29, 2015

These are the voyages...(What I'd like to play pt3)

Classy Classic
Star Trek. Depending on your age and pedigree of geek-dom that one phrase may conjure up all different kinds of images. While I have viewed all and enjoyed most of the iterations of Trek, classic will always be "Star Trek" to me. The name conjures up that opening narration by Shatner, the legendary theme, the Enterprise *woosh*-ing by at warp speed and so on.

When I caught the bug to do a solo Trek campaign, the original RPG by FASA seemed like a no-brainer. I own it, have played it quite a bit, and love it. It does classic Trek fine (and to be honest, you could probably do TNG on with a little creativity. My longest running RPG campaign ever was set 20 years after STNG using FASA rules).

The only thing that really "bugged" me was that I had an idea I wanted to explore of starting of an Ensign at the beginning of their career and progressing them through play up through the ranks. While FASA does have rules for skill progression (via Skill Checks) there are no rules for promotion and so on. 

This was important to the type of game I had in mind, to basically have "XP" and "Levels" (ie a very mechanical, non-fiat based way to progress in rank). Which led me to THIS:

Totally not Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off. Seriously...
"Starships & Spacemen" is Goblinoid Games "Trek-like" RPG built on the retroclone ruleset that powers "Labyrinth Lord" (their B/X D&D simulacrum). While it isn't 100% Trek, it is VERY close. Close enough to house rule and hand wave the rest of the way.

It has XP based advancement though levels/ranks. Plus it has a few other features of its own that I really like (such as a "resource management" style "mini-game" based on your starship's power).

While shopping around there was another game I had my eye on...

Is totally Star Trek, with the serial numbers left on...
"WNMHGB" is a free, Microlite-20 RPG that captures classic Trek perfectly, with just a dash of humor. I could totally play it on its own and have a blast, but it didn't have some of the features I wanted (like the full range of stats), but DID have others, like the nice d20 system task resolution system and a lot of cool Talents.

"Since both "S&S" and :WNMHGB" are d20 derived though, it should be no problem to mix-n-match from them" I told myself.

That's when my troubles started.

Next thing I knew I was fiendishly planning on adding bits from "White Star", "Hulks and Horrors", "Stars Without Number", as well as "Labyrinth Lord" and "Mutant Future". I'd caught OSR DIY fever (thanks "White Star"!). I told myself this is my chance to be WAY more gonzo than I normally am.

On paper it sounds great, but the idea quickly grew into a monster that I felt like I had no control over and couldn't get a handle on.

Also, it was starting to feel decidedly "un-Trek" to me. While I was excited by the gonzo mashup possibilities, in my heart, I think I'd rather just let Trek be Trek, & save the gonzo for something less "established".

SO...back to square one? In a twist of irony, after I started working on "the project with no end" I ended up finding a good set of "rules" (or guidelines) on  Character Advancement in Rank. Which makes me think, maybe FASA after all...


  • Captures Classic Trek perfectly, as it was designed to do
  • Easy and familiar system
  • No "conversion" required, all Trek material already built in


  • ONLY does Trek
  • No official rank promotion. Above house rules a bit open ended.


  • Easily to modify and houserule
  • Very "mechanical" advancement/promotion system
  • Lots of cross-compatible material and resources


  • Needs lots of "tweaking"
  • Almost TOO open ended. A bit overwhelming.
  • Not "really" Star Trek

NEXT TIME: A "frightfully cheerful" RPG...

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