This post comes at an ideal time, what with the new Star Trek movie playing in theaters. This one continues the concept of “modernizing” classic Star Trek episodes, in this case “Space Seed”. This is the story that introduced one of science fiction and Star Trek’s most notorious villains, Kahn.
As with previous examinations, it was quickly determined that the story, as it was, would not translate well for tabletop gaming. Frequently, television shows focus on one or two characters at a time. They do this for many good reasons, with available time and budget being two primary ones. Roleplaying games have an unlimited SFX budget, we gamers are limited only by what we imagine. Time may be a bit more tricky, but typical gaming sessions often last far longer than a one hour program run. Because of this, and because most game groups consist of three to six participants, stories that focus on one or two characters require tinkering to make them work.
Of course, then there’s also the notion of wanting to leave your own “finger print” on something reimagined. So, there are changes.
When I ran this episode for my players, they all knew what was coming very early on. Anyone who has seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn will probably figure things out, and fans of the original series will see the writing on the wall. For us, however, that was half the fun. My players did not see this as an opportunity to erase Kahn from the story, rather they took it as an opportunity to help fulfill his placement and position him to become a reoccurring villain of their own. It was a creative challenge and exhilarating to experience.
There is a correlating subject related to my comment about group sizes that I think needs to be addressed. Astute readers of these adventures may have already picked this up, but I think it is important to call this out and offer some explanation. In the Star Trek game I ran there was no Player Character Captain. The Captain of the ship (in this case, Pike) was an NPC. This was done intentionally. First, it enabled the players to each take “ownership” for a specific branch. Second, it eliminated the notion of one player “out ranking” the other players. Third, it kept a central character as a “mission-giver” or patron to the players’ actions. The players can still, ultimately, be “in charge” of their own destinies by guiding the Captain’s “decisions” in a more “meta” sense. Of course, this isn’t etched in stone, but it worked splendidly for our campaign and I would urge others to do the same.
Either way, the goal remains the same: have fun! So, without any further delay, here’s the next episode: