How Star Trek Canon inspired Back to Reality
By Fred Love
Gamemastering demands a lot of creativity, and sometimes even the most imaginative gamemaster struggles to come up with new scenarios and situations for their players. Luckily, when it comes to Star Trek, we have hundreds of hours of television and film and countless novels, comics, and tie-ins from which to glean ideas.
Take, for instance, my recently published scenario, “Back to Reality,” now available as a downloadable PDF on Modiphius.net and DriveThruRPG.com. The adventure thrusts a Starfleet crew into a quantum reality completely apart from their own, and they’ve got to find their way back. They also come face-to-face with “mirror” versions of themselves from an alternate reality in which the Borg decimated the Federation.
While writing the scenario, I mashed up a few concepts from a couple of my favorite episodes and put my own spin on them, hopefully resulting in an adventure that gives players some familiar concepts to latch onto while also providing a few surprises along the way. I’m going to highlight a couple episodes that inspired “Back to Reality” in the hope that reading this will help other Star Trek Adventures gamemasters find inspiration in the canon.
Perhaps most obviously, the original series episode “Mirror, Mirror” sets the stage for the big dilemma the player characters face in “Back To Reality.” In that classic episode, we see our heroes run into dark versions of themselves from a brutal alternate reality, much as the player characters do in my scenario. It’s a fun sci-fi conceit that allows us to ask “what if” questions about our favorite characters. What if Starfleet officers wore goatees and routinely assassinated their senior officers? Or, how would the player characters be different if they were from a reality in which the Borg had driven the Federation to the brink of annihilation? Contrasting our characters with their alternate-universe counterparts highlights the best qualities of the characters we know and love.
Likewise, The Next Generation episode “Parallels” influenced my scenario as well. In that episode, Worf travels through numerous alternative realities, each one subtly or drastically different from his native reality. The episode also shows us a glimpse of a Riker in command of the Enterprise from a universe ravaged by the Borg, which inspired the doppelganger characters featured in “Back to Reality.” With this new scenario, gamemasters can throw their players into a similar situation as Worf, cut off from their native reality with a cast of familiar characters who have been changed in bizarre ways. The situation should create plenty of opportunities for fun role-playing scenes.
Gamemastering requires a lot of creativity, but you can get a lot of light-years out of mining your favorite Star Trek episodes for ideas, characters, and science fiction concepts for your game. I do so unapologetically. Even so, you might find yourself a few hours before game night with nothing to run. In that case, I humbly recommend my new scenario or any of the many published missions available from Modiphius for Star Trek Adventures.