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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 6:03 am 
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So another RPG by Modiphius using a variation of their 2d20 system with another licensed property that I give a fuck about. The quick and dirty answer to how good is it is yes, I would play this game. The more complicated answer is below.

Presentation and Layout. It's another big book, 354 glossy pages with a map of the Federation and its neighbors on the inside cover. The book starts with an intro and then into a history of the Federation, from the 20th Century up to the disappearance of the starship Voyager, accompanied by sidebars of varying quality (I'm a harsh judge of sidebars due to being spoiled by FASA's excellent work). Then the game gets down to business with character creation, game mechanics, starship rules, and various threatening NPCs. The art is gorgeous and mostly of not of the classic crew which gives us such scenes as a dual phaser wielding female Andorian and a Tellarite in classic TOS red holding off TOS Klingons, a mixed TNG team attempting to decipher alien ruins as the planet explodes around them, and a mixed Klingon/Starfleet team launching a commando raid on a Romulan base as well as many pretty starship pictures.

Fidelity to Source Material: High. I could go on about how Trek episodes are used to as examples to illustrate various points, but I don't need to talk this part to death. They know their Trek.

Character Creation: A multistage lifepath system, which works well. I could literally walk anyone through character creation over Discord with only me having the book. Huge points of newbie accessability. There are six Attributes: Control, Daring, Fitness, Insight, Presence, and Reason. Six Disciplines (Skills): Command, Conn, Security, Engineering, Science, Medical. Focuses like Xenobiology, Helm Control, and Hand Phasers grant additional competency when they are relevant. A modest selection of Talents represents racial abilities like the Mind Meld and extraordinary abilities. Values are also important, with each character possessing several, and whether or not they are relevant (including when they are being directly challenged by the situation) influences game play and the spending of Determination points. Characters are highly capable right out of the box.

In addition the ship has what are called supporting characters, which are lesser (but still highly capable) characters that are run by players whose main character is somewhere else. Thus in the classic some dudes go to the planet while crisis happens in space situation, all players will be engaged with both problems through a combination of running their main character and a supporting character.

Eras of Play: Technically the book supports playing in Enterprise, TOS, and TNG eras, but is really orientated to playing in TOS and TNG (slightly more to TNG) eras. That said, there are stats for phase pistols and other archaic implements of early exploration. A whole bunch of sentient and non-sentient dangers are stated out in GM's section, allowing you to face Jem'Hadar Firsts, Vulcan Sehlats, and the Crystalline Entity.

Game Mechanics: So this runs off Modiphius's 2d20 system, but there are substantial differences from Conan. The Momentum/Threat dynamic is less intense and its generation is altered. Packing heavy firepower, for example, is an automatic Threat escalation, which means packing phaser rifles is something you do only when you expect to need phaser rifles. Lethal damage attacks are also threat increases. Extra dice cost more than they do in Conan, which makes for a more grounded play style that over the top heroics. Problem solving, of the nonviolent kind, is given a more prominent place. The game encourages GMs to allow negotiation, violence, and science solutions to most problems without making the solutions equal in difficulty to implement. It's possible to negotiate with the Nausicaan pirates, but deploying the stun field is probably easier. The modulated sonic pulse will be iffy, but they won't be expecting it.

Starships: There's a big section for narrative starship rules and a system for lifepathing your starship starting with the basic spaceframe. A large number of Federation and non-Federation ships, including the Dominion Battlecruiser and Borg Cube, are included. The starship rules are a little more complicated than I'd like, but manageable.

Gamist versus Simulationist: The game runs on the gamist side. My preferences are more simulationist, but that doesn't make their choices bad, just sub optimal for my preferences. Racial stats are all nicely balanced, which means players won't have issues playing the races that interest them instead of running min-maxes Vulcan ubermench, but Vulcan's fuck off mega strength isn't present. Likewise it's very easy to get into melee, but Star Trek loves melee so how much of an issue is that for a game whose source material includes the Vulcan nerve pinch, the two handed Kirk smash, the Klingon Bat'leth, and legions of Borg cyberzombies (multiple drone types are stated out)? Phasers are less awesome than they should be (still pretty good) but players have a better chance of surviving multiple shoot outs with death rays and while NPCs aren't easily disintegrated, they still can be disintegrated. PCs have character shields that make give them an additional layer of protection but the shields are fragile.

Advancement: This is atypical. The usual game advancement is to allow the PC to reassign a point from one trait to another, switch foci, or do the same with a supporting character or ship stats. This allows players to adjust their build as they switch up more gym time for reading fewer medical journals. Actual increases are rare, but PCs start as highly capable so that's acceptable.

Bitches and Whines: No simple timeline page, no Horta stats, starship rules are a more complicated than I would prefer.

Overall: I like it, and would or play it if I was in the mood for Trek. For the old timers, the game's fluff writing isn't quite equal to FASA's but the game mechanics are better. Knocking down the skills to six Disciplines and a handful of foci makes character creation and play easy, instead of trying to spread points over a huge host of skills in order to totally represent what your character can do.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:17 pm 
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This sounds really interesting. As to the Vulcans, their strength is something that has been inconsistently presented I feel ditto with Klingons. So I can honestly live without it.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:17 am 
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Interestingly, there is a livestream weekly game of this with full support from CBS over on Geek and Sundry's twitch channel called "Shield of Tomorrow". I'll have to check it out and see how it plays.

I like that someone is finally at least attempting to do more static character systems. It may not end up ever being as popular as advancement-based character systems, but I think there's something to having a character who, in terms of general capabilities does not change much from beginning to end of a story. It also simplifies things like power creep, balancing encounters, and giving people a more reasonable baseline of what they can or cannot handle in a given encounter, combat or otherwise.


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