By Al Spader, STA Contributing Writer
Workong on the new Gamemaster’s Guide for Star Trek Adventures was an exciting opportunity for me to explore how the philosophy of gaming intermingled with the philosophy of Star Trek. It also gave me a chance to drill down on two things that are meaningful to me as a game designer: creating a positive and safe gaming space for all and creating interest and new concepts that push the game’s mechanics into new places.
Before sitting down to write about how to successfully run a session 0, I took to social media to see what kinds of things players look for to assure a safe gaming space, especially with the boom of digital gaming that happened during COVID. What I discovered, more than anything else, was trust. Trust among both players and gamemasters was easily the most discussed topic across all social media forums regarding this topic. I was given the opportunity to talk about trust and how a gamemaster can build it within their groups before they even start playing.
In addition to discussing how to build trust, I was also given the opportunity to provide safety tools and expectations for all players. I even got to promote the idea that Star Trek Adventures should support the general idea that every player should be treated equal regardless of race, religious beliefs, sexual preference, gender identity or expression, socio-economic status or education level. I was even able to include some tips on how to adapt storytelling to enhance a neurodivergent player’s experience.
I was also given the opportunity to design new NPC and adversary abilities. This was a fantastic opportunity as I love game design theory and had a chance to bounce ideas off the amazing Nathan Dowdell. In the end, we came up with a list that will add more flavor to different creatures and make adversaries more intimidating and dynamic in an encounter.
To make these abilities pop, I referenced other game systems as well as Star Trek episodes that included bizarre creatures and unique adversaries. One question I asked myself was how would the game show the Control-Nanite version of Leland in Star Trek: Discovery season two and make it feel like a unique threat? With insight gleaned from the show and different RPG systems, I created the swarm special ability which can be applied to both swarms of insects and animals, as well as nanites. This special ability was just the tip of the iceberg, and I am excited to hear what terrifying things players do with these abilities.
The process of creating new special abilities led me to realize that Star Trek Adventures didn’t have rules for characters and creatures who are flying or swimming. With movement tied to defined zones, a character could fly into clouds with a single move if they wore hover boots, for example. The same could be done floating in a sentient ocean. The rules I developed for defining a zone in the air or underwater are straight forward and may only be necessary once in a campaign, but they now exist if you should ever need them.
The Gamemaster’s Guide was in many ways the perfect vehicle for my creative side. Designing new rules as well as setting a standard for session 0s was an honor, and I’m looking forward to hearing what our incredible community thinks of them.
Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep frequencies open for news about additional STA products in the coming months. Live long and prosper!