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Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

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Author(s): Michael J. Scott
Publisher: Heritage Models
Published: 1978
Pages: 40

Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final FrontierEdit

Heritage Models was the first game company to license another property (Robert Beattie). They produced the first official Star Trek RPG and figure line.

To correspond with its licensed figures, Heritage Models published a rulebook, a painting guide, a set of paints, and figures. According to Heritage Models president Duke Seigfried, this was a way of making games more accessible to the general public because the consumers knew the stories behind the game.

The 1st edition rules were written by Michael J. Scott, with a copyright date of 1978. The early sci-fi game was based on Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series TV series. It was published as a forty-page, 8 ½" × 11" staple-bound book. Some printings featured only a purple gas giant and space background on the cover. There were no interior illustrations except for scenario maps.

Core rulesEdit

The rules were split into a "Basic Game" using pre-generated characters from the series, and an "Advanced Game" with full character creation and additional combat rules, like random initiative.

The basicsEdit

The basic rules are just what the word implies, but they are complete. They were deliberately written for newcomers to the hobby. Michael J. Scott eliminated much of the guesswork found in earlier RPGs as to how the parts fit together. A section on preparing to play and explanations of the six very familiar characteristics opens up the basic segment of the rules, followed by movement, hand-to-hand, and ranged combat rules, a sequence of play for the "action phase," and a list of twenty personalities along with their characteristic values. This segment also includes some brief descriptions of Star Trek equipment and an example of play.

Characters have six attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma, Luck, and Mentality) generated by 3d6 rolls modified by race. There is a "Hand-to-Hand Class" bonus, but no other skills and no experience rules. Melee combat is resolved in a single damage step. The attacker rolls 1d6-6d6 (depending on weapon) plus Strength, Dexterity, and Hand-to-Hand Class modifiers. The defender subtracts 1d6 plus Luck and Hand-to-Hand Class modifiers from this total to determine damage. Ranged combat requires a 1d6 roll under a hit number which depends on range and the attacker's Dexterity.

Using the Basic Rules, the players used the pre-generated Bridge Crew – who would be Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, Chapel, and Scott from Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series and included M'res and Arex from Paramount's Star Trek: The Animated Series.

Advanced rulesEdit

About twenty pages of information charts and rule expansions allows for more advanced play. The Advanced section contains rules for creating original characters, a list of lifeforms and their characteristics from the TV series, advanced combat rules, and a more extensive list of equipment.

The rules included descriptions of several alien races including Larry Niven's Kzin, an extensive equipment list, tables for randomly-generated aliens, and two introductory scenarios. The scenario plots were very limited in scope compared to the average Star Trek episode. Both scenarios were essentially "dungeon crawls" complete with monsters, radioactive rocks, and traps.

Core rules limitations and strengthsEdit

The rules lacked ways for characters to gain experience or skills. Rules were lacking to address aging and salaries. There were no guidelines for costs and no price lists. The referee's role was defined more by the use of miniature than anything else. It is not surprising that the rules expected players to use miniatures – the combat rules would be difficult to run without them. Chain of command and world generation rules were also absent.

Chain of command rules would have, however, violated one of the basic concepts of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series, that the captain of the ship was "out there" having to make the hard decisions.

There were no starship rules, as adventurers took part in "landing party missions" (away team missions) using rules for personal-level role-playing. This followed the pattern of Paramount's The Original Series and The Animated Series, where the shows were basically either planet-based or ship-based, with planet-based adventures preferred. The ship was just the means to get to the planet.

One element that the game introduced that was unusual comes directly from the series: the concept of a subordinate player's (junior officer) ability to question the actions of a commanding officer with the request: "Permission to speak freely, sir?"

True to Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series, adventurers did not seek wealth or glory; a player succeeded by completing the mission without violating the Prime Directive.

Meanwhile, Star Trek gaming has evolved and been licensed to and released by other companies such as FASA Corporation, Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as Task Force Games' ongoing Star Fleet Battles game.

See alsoEdit

While Heritage Models did not produce any adventures or supplements, there are several war gaming articles that expanded on Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier.

An adventure moduleEdit

"Kirk on Karit 2: A STAR TREK Scenario Report" was written by Emmet F. Milestone and appeared in Different Worlds #4 p9-11, published by Chaosium, Inc.

This Star Trek scenario was developed for use at DunDraCon IV. The intended players were a mix of "old dungeon-mates" and some non-gamer Trekkies who were interested in finding out about role-playing. Milestone provided the details of how he constructed the scenario using an old dungeon map (not provided in the article), the Star Trek Blueprints, and the statistics he devised for the Star Guard Dreenoi.

In addition to the scenario, Milestone also added some romance rules. The romance rules were added to give the characters the opportunity to "Make a Pass" and dealt with "Falling in Love." The writer felt this gave the player characters the opportunity to emulate some of the events seen on episodes of Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series that were not provided in the original game rules.

With the publication of the scenario, other RPG game masters had a model for scenario development and model for additional rules development.

A rule set expansionEdit

"Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier" was written by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh and appeared in Different Worlds #18 (the January 1982 issue) published by Chaosium, Inc. The article was seven pages in length with fifteen small tables (pages 10-16). Here is the brief editorial blurb from the beginning of the article:

"Written to supplement Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier role-playing rules, this variant covers a wide range of topics including Experience, Skills, Aging, Salaries, Price Lists, The Referee's Role, Chain of Command, and World Generation."

The author's influences were stated up-front: Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was over a year away from release at the time Crabaugh finished his article, and he stated that he did not use Star Trek: The Motion Picture simply because there was a lot more useful gaming material available in the TV episodes and their novelizations.

CitationsEdit

  • Beattie, Robert. "The Courier: America's foremost Miniature Wargaming Magazine Presents 'A Timeline of the Historical Miniatures Wargaming Hobby.'" The Courier. [1]
  • Crabaugh, Paul Montgomery. Reviews. "Star Trek: Beyond the Final Frontier." Different Worlds: Magazine of Adventure Role-Playing Games, #18 January 1982, p10-16.
  • GAMA. Game Manufacturers Association. "2005 Academy Hall of Fame Game Professional: Duke Seifried." 2 July 2005. [2]
  • Milestone, Emmet F. "Kirk on Karit 2: A Star Trek Scenario Report." Different Worlds: Magazine of Adventure Role-Playing Games, #4 Aug/Sept 1979, p9-11.
  • White, Damon. "A close look at licensed RPGs and the companies who create them." Licensed to Produce. GamingReport.com. Posted 2003-08-21 21:03:53. [3]

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