One of the most groundbreaking TTRPG titles for Modiphius Entertainment over the past few years has been the popular Star Trek Adventures. Set in the universe we all know and love from multiple TV shows and movies, the company has created guides and adventures for those who want to experience wild adventures through Starfleet the same way fantasy fans have play. J&D and sci-fi fans played star seeker. The game has steadily expanded over time to include content from all four quadrants, various divisions, stories set in specific shows and with familiar ships, and even recently expanded to have Klingon adventures. But how did the company end up working on this RPG and what does it have in store for us? We spoke with the creative director and co-founder of Modiphius Chris Birch and project manager for Star Trek Adventures Jim Johnson on these same topics.
BC: Modiphius is best known for working on his own licenses, like Achtung! cthulhu. But it also works on other IP addresses such as To fall and Dishonored. What inspired your team to create a Star Trek game, and how do you choose which licenses you would like to work on?
Cris: I’m looking for what I like, licenses with which I have had a strong connection. I know that when you really love something, you have so much more of a stake in making it a success, and you’re going to end up working long hours on it when it’s something you really care about! I grew up watching Captain Kirk in the original series star trek reruns, so to be able to work on a brand like that was amazing.
What specifically made Star Trek a compelling franchise to work with and create an RPG?
Cris: There were already several successful Star Trek RPGs, so we knew there was a large audience, but there hadn’t been a release for over a decade, so it’s likely audiences would react well. to a new game. We had the intro at the right time for our company, so it was a perfect opportunity.
Jim: Star Trek as a 55+ franchise also touches on many critical values worth exploring in a tabletop gaming space – diversity, inclusion, fairness, wonder, and the pursuit of knowledge and hope. Quite different from 21st century cynicism.
Given that Star Trek spans multiple timelines and parallel universes, what did you focus on for the core rulebook?
Shouts: When we launched Discovery had not been created and The next generation the viewership was by far the biggest – we knew that from talking to CBS but also from the fanbase surveys we did. So while I had grown up on a diet from the original series, I know the timeline of The next generation.
What are some of the expansions you’ve released so far? Do you find that audiences answered specific questions more than others? Personal favourites?
Jim: Almost six years later, we have a wealth of material for the game. Three Division Books, four Quadrant Books, two Adventure Compendiums, dozens of digital-only releases, and more. I think my favorites are the new ones Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guidewhich is a massive sandbox setting and an epic ten-part campaign, and the new Player’s guidewhich really expands gameplay options beyond Starfleet and Klingon characters and opens up the universe to all sorts of characters players can imagine playing in the game.
As the game uses your homemade 2D20 system, can you briefly explain how the rules work?
Jim: Basically, the gamemaster presents a task and suggests an attribute and discipline to use to attempt that task, and assigns a difficulty number (0-5). The player adds up his character’s values in Attribute and Discipline, then rolls 2d20. If he gets enough success, he successfully completes the task. If they don’t, they fail. Any additional successes become Momentum, a meta-game currency that can be spent on doing more interesting things in the stage and game context.
Cris: Also, a free quickstart is available to help players get started right away, which you can find here.
How did you customize the 2D20 system to fit the tone of Star Trek?
Jim: Nathan Dowdell took the 2d20 system and adapted it specifically for Star Trek so that the game presented an authentic Star Trek experience at the gaming table. He did this by changing the names of mechanical parts, focusing on economy of the scene that makes Star Trek feel like star trek on screen and adding many examples straight from the episodes and movies.
A common complaint about sci-fi TTRPGs is that some games have great character combat and social systems, but the spaceship combat doesn’t feel as “awesome” as it could. How did your team approach naval combat?
Jim: Each character has something to contribute. If for some reason a given PC cannot participate in naval combat, the player can switch to troop mode and play a support character who is involved. So while not all characters can enter pew-pew, all players can.
Are there members of the design team who have worked on star trek in the old days?
Jim: Among our editorial team are writers who have either worked directly on one of the productions or consulted on one of the productions. We also have several writers who have written many Star Trek novels and related books. New York Times and USA today bestselling author Dayton neighborhood contributed to several books on the line, as did the writers of Star Trek (and other fiction) Christopher L. Bennett, Keith RA DeCandido, Scott Pearson, Jim Johnson, Derek Tyler Atticand Kelli Fitzpatrick. Longtime Star Trek designer Rick Sternbach consulted and contributed to the core rulebook, two sets of map tiles, and provided schematics for Narendra Station, the focal point of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide.
Are there any classic storylines from any of the shows or movies that you would love to bring into the TTRPG? Or anything you brought that people may have missed?
Jim: We tend to avoid rehashing existing scenarios or reusing canonical characters. The game is more focused on allowing game masters and players to create their own Star Trek characters and stories on their ship.
You recently launched the Tricorder Edition, which bundles a few books and other stuff into a box that looks like the Tricorder from the 60s. How did this design come about? Will more designs like this be released in the future?
Cris: We were talking about some cool stuff we could make for the game line and came up with this massive Borg Cube collectible box that the fans really loved. As our early versions focused on the The next generationwe started talking about something based on the original series, and the concept of the first “handheld roleplaying game” came out with the Tricorder Edition.
Obviously you can’t reveal much, but can you tell us what you’re working on Star Trek Adventures in the future?
Cris: Next, a campaign settings sourcebook for the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, then a full Starfleet sourcebook. Lots more to come after that too!
Is there anything else about the game that you would like fans to know?
Jim: Find a band and play! Download one of the free quickstart guides or check out the starter box, create a group and try it out. Enter the online fan scene – there are plenty of them ATS groups and sites there, and the fans are incredibly supportive of new players. We are all one big happy fleet!