This is part of a continuing series where we get to know the masterminds behind the RPG that goes where no RPG has ever gone before – Star Trek Adventures.
The gurus at Modiphius only want to deliver the best of the best to its players. In doing so, they even conscript world-class New York Times bestselling authors to ensure you have the ultimate gaming adventure.
I was able to peel Dayton away from one of his latest projects to talk to him about his work on Star Trek Adventures. How cool is that!
Michael: How did you get involved working on the Star Trek Adventures game?
Dayton: Jim Johnson, who is heavily involved with developing various materials for the game, invited me to participate. He forwarded my name to the game’s development leaders at Modiphius, Chris Birch and Sam Webb, and they formally invited me to contribute to the game in the early going.
Michael: So glad that they did! What is your role at Modiphius? Was this your first time working with them?
Dayton: This was my first time working for Modiphius. My writing partner, Kevin Dilmore, and I had done a bit of work many years ago for a supplemental rulebook for Decipher’s Star Trek RPG, but that game shut down before any of our material could be used.
At first, I thought I might be contributing a bit of backstory or “lore” to help give the game that proper Star Trek flavor…
Michael: (Haha. He said “lore”)
Dayton: …but Chris and Sam instead invited me to work with friend and fellow writer Scott Pearson develop a storyline for the game’s “living campaign.” This was a bit more elaborate than I’d anticipated, given my general lack of experience writing for RPGs, but that didn’t seem to bother Chris or Sam. They, along with Jim, helped point me in the right direction whenever I expressed concerns or doubts (which was often) and were very supportive as Scott and I pulled together the background and story setup for the campaign.
Michael: Anyone who knows you knows that you are a prolific writer with 30 Star Trek novels and novellas under your belt. How did that play into your work with STA?
Dayton: My background writing Star Trek fiction for Pocket Books was certainly helpful, along with my general knowledge of the lore and (a very unhealthy level of) trivia. However, novel or short story writing is not the same as writing for something “organic” like an RPG adventure or campaign, where the players can take things in all sorts of directions or variations based on how they interpret what you’ve provided. Once again, that was where Chris, Sam, Jim, and Scott came in, helping me navigate my learning curve. One thing about which I had to remind myself in the early going was to write with a goal of laying out ideas and other things that other writers could use to develop adventures within the campaign setting. This meant not fleshing out the storyline or even the backstory too elaborately in any one direction. It was as much about what I left out of the campaign document as it was what I included.
Michael: Here is the million dollar question: What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? Why?
Dayton: I’ve been a fan for so long and it’s been such an integral part of my life that it’s hard to pick just one aspect of the entire franchise. I still remember the thrill of seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture on opening day; the first “new” Star Trek on the screen after those years of original series reruns. I watched the premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the barracks TV room with a bunch of other Marines while stationed at Camp Pendleton. Seeing the latest Star Trek film on opening night was a tradition that still holds to this day.
But, at the end of it all, my absolute, no-holds-barred favorite is the original series. Catching the daily rerun after school each day during the 1970s, playing with the toys, building the models, and reading the comics and novels is an indelible part of my childhood, and look where it ended up bringing me?
Michael: Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
Dayton: Again, I have several favorites. Spock, Captain Picard, the EMH from Voyager, Kira, and most recently Michael Burnham and Philippa Georgiou from Star Trek: Discovery are standouts for me. Heck, I even love characters like Gary Seven or Captain Proton, but if I had to pick only one? I am always and forever a fan of the man himself, James T. Kirk. He was a childhood hero, and particularly when teamed with Spock and McCoy embodies so much of what I love about Star Trek.
Michael: What excites you the most about Star Trek Adventures?
Dayton: The storytelling possibilities are what drew me to role-playing games in general and Star Trek RPGs in particular. I go back to the FASA game from the 1980s, and I’ve played each of the different Trek RPGs that have come and gone. The idea of seeing what the game writers will create next, or how a group of players will take an adventure and turn it on its ear, or come up with something of their own that’s even better, is a lot of fun. Fan response to the game seems to have been very positive, so I’m naturally interested to see what tricks the developers at Modiphius have up their sleeve.
Michael: Are you working on anything STA related right now? Can you give us a sneak preview?
Dayton: I am not presently working on anything STA-related. I’ve been busy with various other projects, but several people I know are making all sorts of amazing contributions to the game. Maybe I’ll find my way back there, one of these days.
Michael: What are we most likely going to find you doing if you aren’t working on Star Trek stuff?
Dayton: Sleeping? Yeah, I don’t believe me, either. When I’m not working my “regular” day job, I’m trying to fit in freelance writing for various clients. A good bit of that is Star Trek-related, but there are also a few things outside that space. And I really do wish I could sleep more.
Dayton, I for one am okay with you being an insomniac as long as you keep pumping out the Trek-fodder fans need to keep us plump and happy!
We look forward to more modules knowing that a Star Trek aficionado is helping keep the Living Campaign alive!
(Passing out now. Still can’t believe I scored this interview.)
You want more on Dayton Ward. Check out his website!