By Christopher L. Bennett, STA Contributing Writer
Art by Vincent Laik
When you write for a living, you come up with many more ideas than you actually use. Stories get rejected, and proposals or tentative premises never get written to begin with. But it’s always a good idea to hold onto those old concepts, because you never know when one of them might get a second chance at life.
In the 1990s, I made several attempts to pitch ideas to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Though I was unsuccessful at the time, I’ve been able to draw on a few of those rejected ideas for later projects. My 2019 Star Trek Adventures adventure “Stolen Liberty” was based on a Voyager pitch, which was based in turn on an even earlier concept I’d devised for my original science fiction.
“Better Days” is based on an unused Deep Space Nine pitch that involved Defiant being flung back in time to pre-Occupation Bajor. Major Kira would have been deeply moved by the sight of a peaceful, prosperous Bajor and would have wrestled with the question of whether the Bajorans should be warned of their dark future, or allowed to enjoy their untroubled lives while they had them.
This was a difficult premise to adapt for Star Trek Adventures, since I had no Bajoran main character to build the story around. Instead, I had to develop characters and situations in Bajor’s past that would challenge the player characters, Bajoran or otherwise, to wrestle with the moral dilemma Kira would have faced. I never fleshed out my original proposal far enough to include such characters, so there was less reusable material than I’d hoped.
For the purposes of the game, it seemed appropriate to add another, more upbeat plotline focusing more on action and problem-solving, with a different kind of dilemma. Since it stood to reason that the characters would attempt to recover lost Bajoran cultural history by visiting a museum destroyed in their own time, it seemed natural to build the action around a museum heist, and to bring in a charismatic thief antihero in the classic tradition. After all, who doesn’t love a good heist movie?
The goal of the story is to get back to the 24th century without altering history, of course, but I tried to offer a variety of time travel options, depending on how the game unfolds. But one option didn’t make the cut. In the original pitch, Defiant would have lost its warp drive and had to get home the long way, using time-dilated relativistic flight. I planned to include this option in the game, but it ultimately didn’t fit, as it would be too involved an adventure in its own right. It would still require months of shipboard time, weeks at best, to make it home, with enormous peril from blue-shifted radiation and high-energy particle impacts. But any gamemaster willing to make it work is encouraged to try.
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!