Settings, trappings, and descriptions often trigger the imagination far more than game mechanics, whether simulationist, narrativist, or a conglomeration of the two. The two, “fluff’ and mechanics, should be married well within a game; presented fiction ought to be supported and represented by the game’s mechanics. To do otherwise leads to very frustrating moments.
Creating campaign worlds, their setting, the people and politics that shape and motivate, and the events that spring up from these factors are, for me, almost more enjoyable than working with the mechanics of a game. There is a freedom to the creation process that is both daunting in its near infinite possibility and exhilerating in the blank canvas that it provides. Stephen King once said that a blank sheet of paper was his favorite thing, so open and raw in its unlimited potential. I absolutely get that point of view.
When I sat down to create my own vision of Star Trek for my gaming group, I knew I wanted to capture that frontier feeling given in the original series, so the era was relatively easy to pinpoint. That selection helped refine many aspects of the setting, from Starfleet’s political position with other cultures, the kinds of starships available, and the overall technological level.
My game group consists of nine players. With so many players, any specific setting that we choose to play in is bound to alienate at least one person, so I never prepare a campaign without some sort of primer. This Star Trek publication could make certain assumptions about my private audience, but I wanted to make sure that even the most uninitiated of my would-be Starfleet Officers were armed with the basic knowledge of the various roles and stations, and the technology that enabled those stations.
Thus, this “fluff” section of the Star Trek manual was created. It was quite intentional that each station was limited to a single page; in some cases I could have gone on and on, but presented as it is, it enabled a player to print up only what they needed to run their Officer and, hopefully, sparked enough interest to do some external research if they wanted deeper knowledge. While nearly devoid of game mechanics (a few were snuck in there, but mostly as FATE-driven aspects which are more narrative than mechanical anyway), this document provides a solid peek at the best of the best for Starfleet.
As always, enjoy and please, post comments, questions, and concerns.