- Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Hardcover: 315 pages
- Publisher: Last Unicorn Games,U.S. (August 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1889533009
- ISBN-13: 978-1889533001
- Package Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,510,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Core Game Book (Star Trek: The Next Generation Role Playing Game) Hardcover – August 1, 1998
"The Other Woman" by Sandie Jones
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If you check, you'll see my original Betazed doctor, as well as Ricky's Tellarite engineer listed! (back when both characters were lieutenants.)
One nice thing about the approach taken by Last Unicorn Games (henceforth referred to as 'LUG' in this review) is that it actually published three different Star Trek roleplaying games (the other two being the Deep Space Nine roleplaying game and the Original Series roleplaying game). These three games are all fully cross-compatible with each other, making each individual product line's supplements useful for all three games. The problem associated with this approach, of course, is that it increases the number of supplements you need to acquire in order to have 'everything.' I'll discuss the various supplements for these games below, but first I want to talk about the game system and mechanics.
LUG's proprietary game system, the ICON system, is simplicity itself. The narrator provides a difficulty number, and players roll a number of standard 'D6' dice equal to the appropriate attribute rating, plus any character and situational bonuses (players also roll an additional 'drama die' of a different color). The highest single die result is added to the character's appropriate skill rating, and if the result is equal to or higher than the assigned difficulty number, the character succeeds. If the drama die results in a '6,' the player may also add the second-highest die result, and if it is a '1' there's the possibility of a critical failure. It sounds more confusing than it really is-- in gameplay, this system is fast, easy to learn, and doesn't detract from storytelling in the least.
During character creation, players first decide which position their character will fill (e.g., Security Officer, shuttle pilot, etc), choose a race, and then build a character appropriate to that role. The game presumes that the Ship's Captain will be a nonplayer character run by the narrator. One drawback to this concept is that it leads to downtime for characters not involved in a specific scene-- the ship's medical officer may not have much to do during a scenario about treaty negotiations, for example, or the ship's engineer might get bored in an adventure about finding the cure to a Romulan bioweapon. This arrangement can also result in the narrator-as-Captain making all of the important decisions for the players, which can can deter your players from acting independently. To solve these problems, I had each of my players create three characters: their primary character, who is a bridge officer or head of a ship's department; their secondary character, who is either a warrant officer in a different department or the head of a department not already filled by another player; and a third, 'color' character, who is an ensign or warrant officer in yet a third department. Our house rule was that players defaulted to playing their first, or primary character, but whenever that character wasn't involved in a scene the narrator could have them switch to one of their other two characters as needed. We also allowed a player to create the Ship's Captain as their primary character, as long as the rest of the group unanimously agreed. This type of troupe-style play worked really well in our campaign.
On a side note, the ICON system has very detailed ship-to-ship combat rules. Energy production and allocation is key in any situation where your ship is taking damage ("Do I power down weapons to keep the shields up?"). I strongly recommend that the person playing the Ship's Engineer be somebody who is good with numbers and record-keeping, with good decision-making skills, or these scenes will quickly bog down. If you're a narrator running this game for the first time, I'd suggest assigning this role to somebody who is good with really 'crunchy' game systems-- it will make a huge difference in your campaign, I promise.
As previously mentioned, there were a number of supplements for the LUG 'Star Trek' games, and all of them were extremely well-done. The Narrator's Toolkit is a GM's screen and booklet, and while the screen is worth having, the booklet is really written for inexperienced narrators-- this is the one product in the line which might or might not be useful to an experienced GM. The hardbacked Player's Guide is good supplement, containing an improved character creation system and rules for more highly-specialized character types, including enlisted personnel, a few new player character races, a variety of new skills, and rules for many of the psychic powers which were so common in the Star Trek setting. You really want to pick up a copy. The hardbacked The Price of Freedom is something of an oddball, covering topics ranging from the history and organization of the Federation, rules for creating Starfleet Merchant Marine characters, and most gloriously, stats for dozens of Federation ships. This is another must-have. Planets of the UFP is exactly what it sounds like-- a book containing maps and write-ups of some of the most important (and oddly, some of the least important) worlds which make up the Federation, along with story seeds for each; this is perhaps my least favorite LUG sourcebook for this game, but still perhaps worth owning. Maybe. The First Line details Starfleet Intelligence, including the shadowy Section 31 from several of the Trek television series, and Holodeck Adventures is an amazing supplement with rules for creating holodeck-based adventures (or even side campaigns, in the manner of the recurring "Bride of Chaotica" holodeck series from Star Trek: Voyager). At first glance, you might think that a sourcebook on Starfleet Intelligence and the ship's holodeck are great, if you're planning on running that sort of campaign, but both supplements are so good that you'll quickly realize that both elements should at least be recurring themes in any 'Trek' campaign. The Way of Kolinahr is an excellent sourcebook about the Vulcan race, including new rules for creating Vulcan fleet and security officers, plus several new Vulcan mental disciplines; this book will always come in handy. LUG also published a book of adventures, Planetary Adventures, and a campaign book of interconnected adventures, A Fragile Peace: The Neutral Zone Campaign; both of these books are very, very good, although the extremely tightly-written campaign in "Fragile Peace" clearly makes it the standout hit of the two. There was also a set of miniatures, if that's your thing. Finally, there were two different boxed sets for this game: Star Fleet Academy was a great set with rules for creating cadet characters and running Academy adventures, and Way of D'Era contained everything needed to create Romulan characters and run adventures set on the other side of the Neutral Zone. I always wanted to run a Starfleet Academy game for a few sessions, then fast-forward a decade and see how those same characters, now experienced, would serve together on a Starfleet vessel. Maybe someday!
There were a couple of supplements published for the other 'Trek' games published by LUG which are also extremely useful. Among the Clans is a sourcebook for the Original Series game about the Andorian race, and is almost as useful as the Vulcan sourcebook. A supplement for the Deep Space Nine roleplaying game, Raiders Renegades & Rogues, has rules for creating mercenary and bounty hunter characters, includes tons of new equipment, and provides a few new ship designs. Last, but certainly not least, All Our Yesterdays is a sourcebook intended for all three games, with rules for time travel in the Star Trek universe-- including rules for creating Timefleet officers from the future! This last supplement was one of the finest titles that LUG ever published, and is strongly recommended.
Last Unicorn Games' ICON system is quick and easy, and works well to facilitate roleplaying adventure in the Star Trek universe. If you want to roleplay in the famous "final frontier" of Gene Roddenberry, there are several gaming options out there-- but this game is the best available choice, with the widest range of excellent supporting products. I highly recommend it!