In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream…

English: A stylized delta shield, based on the...

English: A stylized delta shield, based on the Star Trek logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sure, its may be the tagline for Aliens, but horror has long been a component of any sci-fi, including Star Trek.  Granted, slasher-horror is rarely the subject, but psychological horror, and even alien/mutant horrors are not unheard of in the Trek universe.  Salt vampires, blood-sucking clouds, insanity-inducing parasites, zombie-like assimilating cyborgs, and many more have plagued and terrified crew members of Federation starships in nearly every iteration of Star Trek.

We’ve already had a few of these crop up in our series, and horror is a genre I enjoy, so it was inevitable that it would pop up again, and this time as a central focal point.

The majority of Star Trek episodes also tend to highlight a particular crew member or two, and this one is designed to focus on empathic/telepathic crew members.  Of course, every other crew member will have things to contribute and accomplish; this isn’t a one-person show!

We also maintain the season’s sense of discovery (in this case, the horror of the unknown versus the thrill of the unknown) and again showcase the unpredictable effects the Genesis Event had on this entire region of space.

For my group, this was a tense episode with potent moments of terror (as much as can be induced at a well-lit gaming table) and personal touches.  In many ways, we continue the trend discussed in our last post about making things personal.  Of course, this also serves to heighten the horror.

This was also a good episode to highlight that, sometimes, “victory” can be as simple as surviving.

Episode 11 Q is for Quarentine

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Make It Personal

Kirk Talks to Spock about his "Fez Addict...

Kirk Talks to Spock about his “Fez Addiction” (Photo credit: The Rocketeer)

Star Trek is a sweeping space opera that involves countless worlds and even more alien beings.  The numbers are simply staggering, and in the case of individuals, incalculable.  Despite this, Star Trek stories are frequently personal.  They involve family, loved ones, old friendships tested, betrayals, deceit, and all the stuff that makes drama…well…dramatic.

Whether these personal moments are interactions between established crew members, or those introduced by the events of a particular episode, making a Star Trek story personal makes it actually mean something.  This gives the tale a life and feeling, it escalates dangers from being cold and removed to matters of the heart.  And for a tabletop environment, it gives the players something to care about beyond the numbers.

This episode of our Star Trek campaign was very personal.  In the one I ran, I had a player who played a Caitian Security Officer.  In a twist of irony, he came from a family of rogues and ne’er-do-wells.  It was this character’s desire to rise above his family’s choices and become something greater, at least in the light of law, order, and civility.  From the onset of this character’s genesis, I knew I wanted to target that relationship:  it was a plot handed to me on a silver platter.

The Genesis Event offered a prime excuse for a vicious, personal plot:  the Genesis Wave had wiped out the Caitian homeworld and the species was in a chaotic state of relocation.  This made them prime targets for plunder and exploitation, both by species outside their own and, more tragically, by those selfish few within their own species.

And thus my plot was hatched:  rogue/pirate family members would play on familial allegiances to gain access to something powerful that could safeguard their vulnerable peoples versus plundering pirates!

For our group, the episode worked fantastically, with emotional ties being tugged, allegiances questioned, and motivations complicated.

This episode will likely require some tailoring to fit any given group, but it would be well worth the effort!

Episode 10 While the Cat’s Away

My Own Beginning, My Own Ending

500x_5__the_guardian_of_forever

Ahhh, the Guardian of Forever, easily one of the Original Series’ most iconic entities.  It was introduced in the “The City on the Edge of Forever” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_City_on_the_Edge_of_Forever), an episode heralded by many as the best of the Original Series’ run.  That point is up for fair debate, but what is inarguable is the Guardian’s longevity.  The entity (or device…or just simply, “thing”) encapsulates much of what Star Trek is about:  unknown, exploration of deeper meanings, grand power (and more importantly, what it means to wield it), and place in the universe.

It should be no surprise, then, that the Guardian would make its appearance in my Star Trek game.

Like most Original Series episodes, however, this one would not hold up to traditional table top gaming; there simply isn’t enough material (as is) to entertain a group of nine players.  But the Guardian, and its capabilities, intrigued me.  The notion of being able to go back in time to witness, or directly impact, an historic moment in time  is fascinating.  To make things even more tantalizing, with a universe as diverse and detailed as Star Trek, the potential “historic moments” are numerous!

So, I wanted something that would be familiar, something that would grab and entice and compel to keep “correct”.  But I also wanted to avoid some elements that had been overused (World War II, for example).  Finally, after a great deal of thought and reading, I settled on a Star Trek historical event, one that was entirely fictitious, but utterly necessary to the proper evolution of the universe.  I settled on First Contact (the movie; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_First_Contact).

star-trek-first-contact

Staging the episode during the night of the Borg attack on the Phoenix provided the episode with a setting and foe that was simultaneously undeniable and exhilarating.  This provided the players an opportunity to interact with a reviled and feared enemy, contend with a scene many knew quite well, applied an external pressure not typical of the Star Trek episodic adventures previous detailed, and, ultimately, produced one of the most tragic moments in the game.  When a young Trill science cadet was infected with assimilating nanites, the tension at the table was real.  As the player ultimately settled on a strange dual-symbiosis between symbiont, nanite, and host the excitement and enthusiasm for the character’s evolution was felt by all.

It was, as all roleplaying sessions ought to be, ridiculously fun and ripe with long-lasting memories.

Episode 9 Alms for Oblivion

Red Planet Ho!

RoM

Well, this is exciting news!  Exile Games Studio has just launched (and its already over 2/3rds of the way there) their latest Kickstarter project, the long awaited, much desired (just look at that picture!) Revelations of Mars.

Okay, so I am a bit biased on this one.  These guys are enablers of my craft, encouragers of all things original, and long-time friends (they could even qualify as extended family).  Jeff Combos and Sechin Tower gave me an opportunity and I will forever be grateful to them for it.

None of that has anything to directly do with the inevitable awesomeness that will be Revelations, but I feel it necessary to shout it from a mountaintop (Ron Burgundy-style) and cheer these guys on.

I could go in to great depth on this project, but Jeff’s already done that.  Instead, I’ll limit it to this:  Four-armed, green-skinned Martian princesses! Swashbuckling sky pirates! Beast-riding! Ubiquity system! WOO!

To get involved in this incredible journey, open this door and step inside…http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2085348754/revelations-of-mars

Enjoy the ride!

(And congratulations, Exile!)