Friday, December 9, 2016

Star Trek Adventures: First Playtest Session

Our holiday centerpiece

Last weekend I ran my group through the first playtest adventure for Star Trek Adventures (which I talked about earlier, due out next summer.) I don’t want to spoil the adventure for others who might be in the playtest, so my discussion here will be general.

Basic Rules (as of this writing)


This is a playtest, so a lot of details about the game may change before publication. But I wanted to give you a brief overview of what playing the game is like.

Star Trek Adventures uses the 2d20 system, which Modiphius uses in some of their other games such as Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition and Robert E. Howard's Conan. I’m not familiar with those, but in the STA version, you add an attribute to a skill, then roll 2d20 and hope one or both are equal to or less than that number. The game gives you ways to add more d20s (up to 5), and rolling a 1 or rolling under your skill’s specialty gets you an extra success. The number of successes you need depend on the difficulty of the task (usually 2).

Here are some other notable rules from the current playtest draft:

Momentum: When you roll more successes than you need on a given task, you can spend the extras for added effect--or save them in a group Momentum pool that everyone can use on later turns. Momentum points let you do things like add a d20 to a roll, or make a roll harder for an enemy.

Threat: Kind of the opposite of Momentum, Threat points are a pool that the GM can use to help out the bad guys. Players can choose to voluntarily add to the Threat pool to gain an extra die to roll, thus helping themselves out in the short term by risking more trouble later on.

Another chance to use my action tracker cards!

Determination: Each PC starts with several of these tokens, and they work like hero points or plot points or bennies in other games. You spend them to do cool things, and earn them by being a good player. In STA they're more powerful than Momentum points, but it does feel like there's some overlap.

Values: Each PC in the playtest had 3 Values, things like "Fortune Favours the Bold," "No Love of Violence," and "Outspoken and Argumentative." The playtest rules spell out one positive use for this and one negative. If you're rolling on something your Value might help, and you spend Momentum on it, you can get an extra Momentum point for free. And on the negative side, you can choose to gain a point of Determination if you accept a Complication from the GM. (Kind of like a GM Intrusion in Monte Cook Games's Cypher System.) It sounds like more uses for Values will be included in later rules. I think this has the potential to be core to the game's "Star Trek" feel.

Challenge Dice: When rolling damage or similar results, you use special 6-sided dice. For now we don't have specially printed dice, so we use regular six siders with the following values: 1-2 count as normal, 3-4 count as nothing, and 5-6 count as 1 plus a bonus effect. The effect differs per weapon; an example would be a knockdown effect when you're punching someone.

Injuries: Every character has a Stress track, and damage will usually come off of this. If you run out of stress, or take a lot of damage at once, your character is Injured, which in this game means you're out of the fight. You can, however, spend Determination to soldier on.

Group Impressions

Happiness is a table full of dice and playtest notes.

I enjoyed reading the playtest rules and running the game. In play, we felt that some of the rules need tweaking--especially extended tasks, which were extra hard to understand and really slowed us down--but I am optimistic about the game's future. There's a lot to like here: the system is (mostly) simple, there aren't a ton of skills, players have a lot of control over their destinies, and there's a focus on encouraging problem-solving and not just fighting.

I'm expecting the second playtest adventure in a few weeks. I hear it may include starship rules and/or character creation. Can't wait!