A Trek to the Stars but no Star Trek

ultimateA while ago I have mused about the issues you have with SF campaigns in general and campaigns focusing on space exploration in particular. I have thrown some ideas around and watched several SF movies and episodes from various SF TV series for inspiration.

It was during one episode of the classic Star Trek series when I had an idea. Why not use the premise of the series but get rid of basically everything else. One thing that always kept me from running a Star Trek game was the canon which always felt like a corset instead of inspiration. While I love the premise of a starship and its crew travelling through space, responding to emergencies, dealing with first contact situations and sometimes even fighting enemies, I don’t really want to have to cope with all the “baggage” that comes with it.

Of course I can tell my players that I will ignore some of the canon and stay clear of any metaplot, but then why bother use the Star Trek universe at all? I also like to have a bit more science in my science fiction than Star Trek has. I also prefer my games a bit more grim and gritty. Even though I like to watch Star Trek, I still cringe whenever crew extras are thrown through the bridge set because there are no seat belts.

So what I am currently planning is to get back at writing a SF campaign setting that takes the Star Trek premise BUT is not set into the Star Trek universe. Another SF setting I find highly inspirational is the Mass Effect universe. While I found it a bit hard to run non-military campaigns in that universe, I still love a lot about it.

When it comes to what system to use I am still torn between Stars without Number and MiniSix. SWN would probably provide me with more material to rely on, but also makes some assumptions about the setting. MiniSix is more rules-light than SWN and probably needs me to put some more work into setting-specific stuff.

If I come up with anything concrete (which is not guaranteed) I’ll post it here on the blog. But at the moment I am basically throwing some ideas around and hope for some feedback by my readers.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

8 thoughts on “A Trek to the Stars but no Star Trek”

  1. An interesting idea, but I’m not sure I understand what you mean. If you’re not using the ST races, places, or politics, and you don’t like the (mis)use of tech in ST, then just what of the setting is left? I’m curious as to what of Star Trek would remain?

    1. What I want to do is take the premise of the original series and run with it. I might borrow a few other things from the show, like some kind of Federation, etc., but that’s it.

  2. Not that there’s anything wrong with MiniSix, but if you’re going to be going that direction why not just use D6 Space? If I remember correctly you can get that as a free download these days as well.

    1. I actually own the d6 Space book. But at the moment I prefer a more rules-light game than even d6 Space. MiniSix fills that role perfectly.

  3. May I suggest my own Zap! It’s got a bunch of stuff that’s in there specifically to help with Star Trek style exploration and research. It’s free, and at the very least you might pick up some ideas you could use with other systems.

  4. I love the idea! I live deconstruction tropes and re purposing ideas, so that’s right up my alley. My (incredibly long time int he drawing board) own sci-fi setting is a strange mix of inspiration form Firefly and Babylon 5.

    You could strip it down to the bare essentials and run with it… I would NEVER run a regular Trek game. Maybe a con game to lure people in into RPGs but not a campaign. I don’t know enough about it and I would feel constrained by the canon, even if we decided to ignore it. When I ran Star Wars I did a MAJOR overhaul of the metaplot… Basically ignored and redid the prequels.

    As far a systems go, MiniSix seems like so much fun, I love it. But my players are not too hot for it so I don’t think I’ll play it anytime soon. HOWEVER, I could use it for a con game… MMMM!!!

  5. I’m more familiar with Stars Without Number than MiniSix, but I think that either would be good. SWN is very good for SF role-playing, and I don’t think it would be hard to modify the baseline setting for a Star Trek-inspired campaign. MiniSix is nicely rules-light, though, so I think it depends on what your players would prefer.

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