By Christopher L. Bennett, STA Contributor
I’ve long been fascinated by deep time – the idea that the Galaxy is immensely older than humanity, and that ancient or extinct civilizations should vastly outnumber ones at a level comparable to our own. Modern Star Trek tends to underuse this idea, but the original series gave a clearer sense of the antiquity of the Galaxy, with the Enterprise frequently encountering extraordinarily advanced ancient civilizations or the artifacts and survivors they left behind. This is why I chose the original series era as my setting for my Star Trek Adventures mission briefs pack “The Depths of Time—Encounters with Ancient Civilizations.”
Still, I needed ten campaign scenarios, so I sought inspiration wherever I could find it. I found several inspirations in my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel The Buried Age, my deepest dive into Trek antiquity. The first adventure, “Closed Borders,” is based on a paragraph in Chapter 3 describing a past mission of Captain Picard’s Stargazer. One can assume that in the STA continuity, the player characters’ ship encountered that civilization some 70 years earlier. “Darwin’s Derelict” is inspired by the scenario seen in Part 3 of The Buried Age where an artifact is so ancient that life has evolved to adapt to it, a fascinating idea that I wanted to revisit, though with different specifics.
“Runaway Brain” was originally an unused pitch I developed for the Titan crew under Captain Riker, while I found “Magic in the Air” in an old stack of 3x5 cards with story ideas for my original fiction. “Enemy Mined” was originally meant to tie in to the ancient telepathic wars established in Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock, which involved both the Talosians from “The Cage” and Sargon’s people from “Return to Tomorrow.” But I repurposed it, for reasons I’ll get to.
I tried to offer a mix of different scenarios: ruins of long-dead civilizations, hyper-advanced societies still active, advanced societies that had regressed, ancients who had evolved to incorporeal form, time travelers from the distant past, and so forth. I wanted players and gamemasters to have a wide range of different experiences within the general theme.
The mission briefs template I was given suggested designing the scenarios to either stand alone or form a loose story arc. So I chose to weave a developing thread through several of the campaigns, planting connecting seeds that gradually reveal a single lost civilization behind them all, and giving the players a quest to discover their origin in the final campaign. (This is why I repurposed “Enemy Mined.”) I kept it loose enough that each segment could be tweaked to stand alone, and I resisted tying too many of the campaigns together. It’s a big Galaxy, after all, and there should be many unconnected ancient societies in its history.
Hopefully these ideas will inspire gamemasters to devise plenty of their own.
Download a copy of “Ancient Civilizations” now from modiphius.net, modiphius.us, or DTRPG!
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!