The Original Series of Star Trek enjoyed visionary stories, ground-breaking characters, exciting locales, and great special effects. All of those qualities have stood the test of time, except for the special effects. As is evident by the remastered episodes, this is an understood effect due to the advent of CGI. Simply put, the dreams woven by Star Trek’s visionaries are far easier to realize with CGI than models and celluloid shading. No better example of this exists than the neural parasites of Deneva.
Encountered in “Operation – Annihilate!”, episode 29 of season 1 of Star Trek (The Original Series) (found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation:_Annihilate!), these terrifying creatures resembled little more than quivering, fried eggs. The concept of the episode was chilling and unnerving: the Enterprise crew encounters a planet overrun by alien parasites that induce insanity. To explorers, this is a nightmare manifested. For a child watching this episode in syndication in the late 70s, it was near-comical. There really is nothing frightening about a quivering, fried egg, even when…or especially when…thrown and “stuck” to your favorite half-human/half-Vulcan’s back.
It should be clear, then, that the episode begged for a re-imagined staging during the Star Trek campaign I ran. The story was sound and the unlimited SF/X budget afforded any tabletop RPG group fit the need perfectly. And so, “Operation – Annihilate!” served as the basis for the first episode of Season Two. Of course, this episode also introduced the crew’s new captain and their new ship, this alternate universe’s equivalent of the “Enterprise”.
Additionally, this proved an ideal time to “promote” all of the PCs and to make them full-fledged department heads. This move granted each player a greater degree of narrative influence, both in access to the captain, as well as freedom to design and introduce crew in their department. In essence, it served to heighten player ownership and involvement in the ever-growing universe and story that was our Star Trek game.
So, for your enjoyment, here is the next episode of our continuing voyages…