~ 2100 words, ~11 min reading time
For this soloing experience, I decided to use Star Trek Adventures as my core ruleset and setting. I’m new to the ruleset, so I’m sure I made some mistakes. Also, while I enjoy Star Trek, I don’t know that I’d call myself a “Star Trek fan”/”Trekkie”, mostly because I know people who are way more in to Star Trek than I am. Example: I’ve not watched any of the latest Trek because I don’t want to pay for Paramount+ yet. This means I probably have (or will have) some inconsistencies between my game and the ST canon. I’m at peace with this, because I play for my own amusement, not to develop the ST canon. I am not, in fact, a screenwriter for Star Trek (even if Brannon Braga did take classes from the campus I teach at now), nor do I write Star Trek tie-in fiction (even if I did chat with Christopher Bennett pretty late into the night – 2am? – once). I’m the kind of fan who owns DVDs of the TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY, as well as the TOS and TNG movies, but only the first of the JJ Abrams era movies, and has only ever been to one ST convention.
For GM Emulation, I’m using a combination of Tana Pigeon’s Mythic GM Emulator for oracle rolls and triggering interrupt scenes/random events. However, I’m using Pigeon’s Adventure Crafter for generating the opening scene and any interrupt scenes, as I like the structure it provides. If necessary, I’ll also use Pigeon’s Location Crafter for any locations that need that kind of development, though I don’t really anticipate that.
I’ve also decided that my write-ups are going to take the form of scripts. Probably more than in any other game I’ve played so far, this one is very much playing out as a video in my head, so a script feels like the appropriate way of communicating the story. Any metadata (rolls on oracle tables, scene setups, etc) will be put in italics if I bothered to make a note of them, as will some of my thinking. Plain font will be used for the scripts, with brackets for stage direction, background, etc.
In Star Trek Adventures, character creation takes a “life path” approach. Those who have read my Cepheus posts will realize that Cepheus/Traveller/similar systems use the same broad concept. Character creation is a process of starting with a basic character and then developing their backstory simultaneously with their stats. So, let me introduce Capt. Michael Watson of the USS Comstock, a Nova class Scientific/Survey ship.
Capt. Watson – human – grew up on Andoria, the son of artists who had come from Earth to learn about Andorian artistic culture. He is proud of this heritage, and considers himself, in some ways, to be a “son”of Andoria.
Two major life events played a big role in his time in Star Fleet so far.
(1) On an away mission that he was leading, his friend Uq’aath – an Andorian – was killed by an animal after he stayed behind the away team to complete some readings on his own.
(2) When Watson was on assignment on a previous survey vessel, the Captain of that ship fell ill when exposed to some kind of xenovirus. This forced Watson to take command. His handling of that situation played a key role in his assignment to the Comstock.
Scene 1 – Capt. Watson’s Quarters
Mythic: set Chaos Factor to 5 to start. Using Adventure Crafter, I rolled up these plot elements for my first “turning point”: Frenetic Activity (surrounding Capt. Watson), Character Returns (New Character – “Ugly Leader” connected to current plotline), Run Away! (Capt. Watson), and Character is Diminished (Capt. Watson). My first thought was that this might be an “in media res” scene resulting in Capt. Watson being demoted, given the high level of action. But this didn’t feel right. Here’s what did.
[Watson’s Quarters, lights off. Watson sleeping, but restlessly.]
[Cut to jungle scene. Dense underbrush, clearly daytime, but upper canopy provides significant shade, so only dappled sunlight gets through. The sound of someone running. Young Watson runs into the scene.]
Young Watson: Uq’aath! Uq’aath! Where are you? [Comes to clearing. Looks slightly down, stunned.]
[Sound of communication “ringing” coming through to console in quarters. Watson wakes up, groggily walks to desk. Sits, presses button. Unnamed Admiral appears on screen.]
Admiral: Captain, I hope I didn’t disturb you.
Watson [still obviously tired]: Not at all, sir. Do you have a new mission for us?
Admiral: Yes, I do. We have some anomalous readings coming from a sector not too far from Bajor. You mission is to investigate these readings and report back to us.
Watson: Excellent. We’ll be on our way shortly.
Admiral: And one more thing. This is to be a joint mission. Holem Latha of Bajor’s science community will be leading the scientific side of the mission. His knowledge of spatial phenomena and xenobiology should be quite useful whether this is a living thing or not.
Watson [clearly a bit taken aback, but holding it together]: Are you sure that’s a good idea? Sir?
Admiral: We are well aware of your history with Latha. We are also confident that you can set that all aside for the sake of ensuring that we maintain friendly relations between the Federation and Bajor.
Watson [nods, not happy, but putting on the right “face”]: Of course, sir.
Admiral: We look forward to your report. [Screen goes black.]
This turning point introduced the first plotline “Investigate Anomaly”.
Scene 2 – Bridge
Chaos factor 6, since Watson clearly was not in control in the previous scene. Plan was to arrive at the anomaly to start studying it. Latha got on board off-screen. But, I rolled under the chaos factor – so this is an altered or interrupt scene. Turning to the Adventure Crafter, I rolled for plotline. Got “Investigate Anomaly” – okay, so not a new plotline, so probably just an altered scene. Plot points: Catastrophe, Wanted by Law (New Character – Not in this plotline, “Rough Rogue”), Fall from power (New Character – connected to existing Character – Holem Latha – “Heroic Guardian”), Conclusion(?!), Catastrophe. Okay, so I know the investigate anomaly plotline is going to end in this scene, and there’s *definitely* some kind of catastrophe, since that came up twice.
[Bridge, everyone at stations, everything seems fine]
Helm: Captain, we’re coming out of warp.
Security/Tactical: Captain, there’s phaser fire here. Two Bajoran vessels – a scout seems to be firing on a shuttle craft.
Latha [a Bajoran man, scars across his face, and with graying hair, sitting next to the Captain]: The scout is probably planetary security. That’s what we’ve been using those ships for recently.
Science: Sir, we’ve detected the anomaly. It seems to be some kind of dark energy – the phaser fire seems to be destabilizing whatever it is.
Watson: Hail the Scout.
[View screen shows a Bajoran man – middle aged – dressed in Bajoran military garb.]
Watson: I am Captain Michael Watson of the Federation ship Comstock. We have been sent to study a dark energy phenomenon.
Latha [cutting him off]: Which your phasers are in the midst of destabilizing, Ko.
Watson [annoyed]: Yes. So, if you wouldn’t mind calling of your attack, we would be much obliged.
Ko [on screen, very stoic demeanor]: Of course, Captain. However, the occupant of this shuttle is a terrorist that we will be taking back to Bajor to answer for his crimes. If I am correct, your ship should be equipped with a tractor beam. Perhaps you could assist us in apprehending this criminal.
Watson [looks at Latha next to him]: Would the tractor beam cause any problems with this phenomenon?
Latha: It’s impossible to say for sure, but I suspect we’ll be fine.
Watson: Very well. Tractor beam on the shuttle. Bring it into shuttle bay 1.
Ko: Thank you, Captain. I will see you shortly. [view screen switches to image of shuttle being tractored in]
Science: Sir, the anomaly seems to be destabilizing further.
[Quick shot to outside – explosion of black/purple energy hits the Comstock, and seems to deflect off of the Bajoran scout’s shields.]
[Back to the Bridge – people clearly shaken, lights mildly flickering]
Watson: Damage report!
Tactical: Hull breaches on Decks 2 and 7. Emergency forcefields are holding, and damage control crews are on their way. Significant structural damage, but we should be able to repair it.
Engineering station: A brief interruption to power supply, but it has mostly stabilized, sir. No ongoing concerns.
Science: Sir, the anomaly is gone. Space appears normal here.
Watson: And the shuttle?
Tactical: Safely in shuttle bay 1, sir.
Captain: Then I’m going to see what this is all about. [Walks to turbolift, doors open, he enters, and doors close behind him]
Scene 3 – Conference Room
Chaos factor up to 7. Previous scene was also clearly out of control. Getting ready for scene set up, roll against Chaos Factor – another interrupt or altered scene. No current plotlines, since “Investigate Anomaly” closed. So, we’ll use Adventure Crafter to roll up scene elements and figure out the plot from there. Plot points: Framed (Jelah Rin – shuttle pilot – framed by Ko Ret), Character attacked in lethal way (Ko Ret), Resource runs out (Capt. Watson), Character Upgrade (Ko Ret) – note: this plot points is a “meta” point. It means that Ko Ret gets added to the character list a couple more times, so his name is likely to show up involved with plot points. So, he’s moved over to become a more major character – Rural setting. I didn’t do much with “rural setting” except saying “We’re in the middle of nowhere in space. That counts.”
[Watson is sitting at the head of a small conference table. On one side is a Bajoran man we’ve not seen before. Clearly a bit worn down, clothes in bad shape, ex. Two security guards stand behind him.]
Watson: Care to tell me your story?
Rin: Ah, yes. I am Jelah Rin, and I have been framed for a crime I did not commit. I don’t know how much you pay attention to Bajor, Captain, but there has been a number of bombings recently. I was accused of being involved in these bombings, but I am innocent, Captain. I think Ko Ret just wants to hunt me down so people will think better of him again.
Watson: Better of him?
Rin: Oh, yes. Ret was a significant player in the Resistance during the Cardassian occupation. However, he has fallen out of favor with the current government for reasons I really don’t know. What I do know is that I am innocent, but that Rin is willing to take me in anyway. He’s in a position to really benefit from these bombings if he can slow them down or stop them.
[A couple more security walk in with Ko Ret, who is offered a seat opposite Rin. As Ret is sitting down, Jelah Rin pulls out a dagger and lunges across the table at Ret, managing to cut his arm.]
Watson: Not on my ship! [Rin is clearly intimidated by this, drops the dagger.] Take him to the brig. [Security escorts a defeated looking Rin out.] I apologize for that Mr. Ret. I’ll accompany you to sick bay.
Ret: Thank you, Captain. It’s no more than a flesh wound. I’ve had worse, but I certainly won’t refuse. I just hope that you now see the kind of man you have in your brig.
New plotline: Bombings on Bajor
Mini-scene – Captain’s Ready Room
I didn’t actually play out this scene. This was just resolved in a couple Fate Chart rolls about how Starfleet Command wanted the Comstock to respond to this plotline.
[Watson talking to Admiral on his console]
Watson: So, Admiral, the phenomenon is gone. My science officer says that there’s not even a sign that it was ever here. Scans all look normal. Would you like us to look into these bombings on Bajor?
Admiral: No. This is pretty clearly an internal matter for the Bajoran authorities to handle. However, given the claims that Mr. Rin made, you are not to hand him over to Ret. Rather, take him to Bajor yourself, and ensure that his claims are at least heard by the authorities. We’ll let Bajor take it from there.
I’m actually in an odd position now. With Ret’s character being upgraded, he’s very likely to show up again. Also, “Bombings on Bajor” is my only active plotline that I might randomly roll. So, despite these orders, Watson’s involvement in this plotline is clearly not over yet.