When I set out to put together, and run, a Star Trek campaign, I insisted on emulating the television series over the films. They lent themselves better to a long-term tabletop campaign, with the styles, themes, and development mirroring one another quite nicely. Therefore, each “adventure” needed to be a complete “episode”, one that mostly told its tale, but that continued to chew on material introduced earlier, while adding just a bit more. Eventually, as episodes occurred and moved into “lore” the universe deepened and grew more complex. There were names, ship, system, personnel, and otherwise, each carrying a bit of flavor and history which collectively created a vivid fabric for our games.
Likewise, I planned from the very beginning, to run in “seasons”. Each season was given its overall storytelling “task”. Season One’s task was straightforward enough: introduce the players to the setting and establish the stage for the following seasons. Like any good season, the season finale needed to be exciting. It needed to answer a few questions, but pose even more. It needed to kick that “want for more” in the behind and get the players begging for the next episode immediately. It needed to be BIG.
Therefore, for the first time in several episodes, we returned to original content, playing more on information provided all the way back in episode one. Here, at least to the audience, we finally reveal what happened in the first episode’s opening sequence. And I’ll tell you, my players ate it up.
This was a big episode, both in scope and in mechanics. It was the first “large scale combat” ran for the Star Trek game. A good chunk of that conflict was kept to narration, with “pocket events” doled to the players to, not only keep them engaged, but give them power to help shape the conflict. Granted, to set things up for what was to come, there wasn’t actually a tremendous amount of influence that could be had. In fact, the episode winds up playing a bit more like a natural disaster movie in that the main characters can’t really thwart the “doom”, but instead are scrambling to find a way to survive. While that is far more “railroading” than I am normally comfortable with, it was all done for very good reasons.
And that survival was vital, it enabled the setup that would come in following episodes to work that much better. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, let’s just enjoy the exciting catastrophe that is Day Zero.