Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

…to boldly go…

And there I was, two weeks ago, arguing that a D&D power scale would not transfer well over to something like Star Trek. I just had gotten my wife to watch TNG with me as a preparation for Picard, and Star Trek was on my mind.
And then the next day in the shower a thought came to me: why exactly not? Why wouldn’t it work as D&D? There’s already a power scale in the setting, after all, they even have level titles like Ensign, Lieutenant, Captain…

One could, conceiveably, make a Star Trek game based on old school D&D.

And on I went: yes, you could have a certain amount of bridge personnel as the main characters, but you would have to change the classes, but that’s easy enough.

And we need different races, but that’s also simple, just make up Vulcans and Klingons and a few others.

And we don’t do money, because the Federation doesn’t do that, so we have to figure out who gets what stuff, and experience is gonna be mission based, and and and…

I already sat down and started changing my Labyrinth Lord based house rules into something I briefly called “to boldly go”, when I realized something: I am not that creative. Someone was bound to have come up with something like that before.

And yes, there were multiple Star Trek RPGs beforehand, but those were not really D&D, so they weren’t what I wanted.

But Taxidermic Owlbear pointed my to X-Plorers, Colonial Troopers, and Hulks and Horrors. The closest to Star Trek of those was X-Plorers. Still, it didn’t feel quiet like it. It felt more like some 50s pulp SF setting. Which is good as well, but not what I wanted.

And then I was thinking… wasn’t there something with a cover of nearly Star Trek uniforms on a bridge? Yes there was.

463px-Starships_&_Spacemen

Back in 2012 Dan Proctor published Starships and Spacemen 2nd edition. It’s the second edition of a game from 1977(!) and the reason I wasn’t thinking about it at first was because I had it mentally filed as a different game system than D&D.

Which is not really the case. It’s based on Labyrinth Lord, so copious amounts of files were employed to create a B/X D&D clone in a Star Trek setting, with all the serial numbers lightly filed off.

It is amazing. It was exactly what I was looking for. I think I might have to create a few scenarios for it.

It’s a bit of a pity that it is not more widely used though. It has the benefit of being compatible with a lot of old school type systems, so one could conceivably use monsters from all over the place in it. But it also is quite limited: it’s really a system that focuses on your usual Star Trek episode shenanigans, so even playing in the wider world of the quasi-Federation in the game becomes a bit of an issue. Well, in a similar way to normal D&D I guess.

The normal classes are replaced by some that evoke the usual classes of a starship. We got your command officers, science officers, engineers… and we have enlisted men who have a shorter experience track.

There are 8 races in there, most of which are broadly analogous to races in Star Trek (Taurans are clearly Vulcans).

Equipment is handled differently than usual. We don’t have money in the utopia of the Federation.sorry, CONfederation. But we can get equipment to use on our missions according to our rank. Cool, cool.

Starships and starship battles are rather simplistic, but one element that I love is the energy management mini-game that makes it necessary for players to plan out when to use transporters teleporters and when to use shields. Yes, you can beam yourself anywhere. But if you do that too often and there’s an attack you won’t be able to run your shields. Or run, period.

Monsters are like in Labyrinth Lord, with the exception of the hoard class, sentient aliens are treated differently and given random tables to allow to make unique humanoid aliens in the vein of the shows. The highlight being, of course, the 1d100 graphical table of various rubber foreheads. An idea so stupid and brilliant it shines.

The book only gives the scarcest outline of the setting. We are members of the space fleet of the Galactic Confederation and boldly go into the unknown. Sometimes we meet other races from rival star empires, like the slightly oriental looking Zangids and the fanatically religious Videni.

All of this is made to be adapted to the DM’s own table. One could make the Confederation smaller, with only the playable races as members, standing against the Zangids next door, or one could make a Confederation of hundreds of races and planets standing against a gigantic Zangid empire.

Or one could just replace the names of the races and use the background information from Star Trek, or maybe the Orville, instead. It would still work.

One also can use monsters from Labyrinth Lord in there. Rust monsters might be a fearsome threat to a starship. and why not have a small polity of mind flayers hidden in the darkness of space.

 

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