By Al Spader, STA Contributing Writer
Art by Tobias Richter
Space as an Antagonist
Star Trek is at its best when telling stories about people, philosophies, and compromise. One of the very foundations of the franchise is discovering new life and new civilizations. As such, we often see different species with different mindsets than those in the Federation turned into plot antagonists. While this is an important tool with storytelling, there are many other ways to create drama, tension, and stress in Star Trek Adventures.
Using space itself as an antagonist for an adventure can both push different lines of thinking among players and allow ship roles to be used in non-combat scenarios. Space is a large place, and we are always discovering new phenomena the more we explore. Some of the anomalies your ship encounters will be known to the crew, while others can be new, exciting, and stressful events.
To create these new experiences, first look at different anomalies such as spatial rifts and tears. Ten such options are detailed in the newly-released Mission Briefs pack, Anomalies. These anomalies can provide access to other dimensions and/or times to play havoc on your ship and crew. When adding a spatial rift to your game, get creative. There is nothing that says what is on the other side of the rift follows the same laws of physics or quantum mechanics your crew is used to. Taking what the crew knows is true and turning it into something they don’t understand pushes them to get creative and experiment with solutions.
The next thing to consider is Star Trek particles. As we know, many of the particles we see on the shows are rooted in real science and Star Trek canon has established what these particles can do in its universe. Finding new ways to use these interactions can be appealing to long-time Trek fans, by reminding them of stories they may have heard about these particles and extrapolating how those stories might apply to their current situation.
Another way to use particles is to create new one altogether. Almost every Trek show has done this to a small degree to create interesting plots and conflicts. The best part about doing this is that you make the rules of how the particle interacts with others and what rules it follows. Perhaps this new particle causes electrons to stop moving, but only at near absolute zero temperatures, or maybe the particle causes the space between electrons and their nucleus to expand, making everything they interact with grow to enormous sizes. Either way, when introduced to your story, there should be a way for the crew to manage your new type of particle as figuring out that solution should be the major arc for your crew.
While every episode of your season probably shouldn’t be based on anomalies, it doesn’t hurt to throw a few in to keep your crew on their feet and to challenge some of the more obscure values they may have. The next time you want to have your crew investigate a nebula, perhaps try a different kind of anomaly instead, such as inside a gravity well that emits tachyon and infrared radiation. This could provide a similar feel as a nebula would, but could be a whole new experience for your crew to enjoy.
Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep frequencies open for the release of additional mission brief packs and other products in the coming months. Live long and prosper!