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.
A Star Trek fan for over forty-five years, Scott Pearson has had three Trek short stories and two novellas published by Simon & Schuster. He has written articles about Trek for the official Star Trek magazine and has copyedited dozens of Trek novels since 2014.
Scott and his daughter also generate an exciting podcast. Generations Geek is a more-or-less family-friendly celebration of geekdom by a father/daughter crime-fighting duo. On Generations Geek they talk about books, movies, comics, and any other geeky thing they think of. They also have cool guests, like New York Times bestselling authors and—wait for it—astronauts.
Most importantly to the readers of this blog, Scott reviews materials for the role-playing game Star Trek Adventures to ensure accuracy to canon.
Michael: How did you get involved working on the Star Trek Adventures game?
Scott: My friend Jim Johnson, whom I’ve known for many years since we were both published in Strange New Worlds VII, reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in contributing in some fashion. After I told him I was, I think I next heard from Chris Birch and Sam Webb. Soon I was on a Skype conference call with them and Dayton Ward. At least that’s how I remember it . . . that was about a year and a half ago, so it seems a bit of a blur now!
Michael: So this is your first time working with them?
Scott: This is indeed my first time working with them or any gaming company. That was part of the appeal, beyond Star Trek itself: the chance to do something I hadn’t done before.
Michael: I am happy they got you onboard. What’s your primary role?
Scott: My primary role at Modiphius has been canon review. I review the game material to make sure it doesn’t conflict with anything established by the various episodes and movies.
Michael: Wait. You are a fact checker? Isn’t that a tough job?
Scott: Of course. There have been many times over the decades that the shows or movies have contradicted themselves. The challenge is more about keeping true to a general feeling than that of a specific line of dialogue or plot point. Generally, you want to let writers bend the rules without breaking them. But there are a lot of gray areas, which is why hard-core fans can endlessly debate and retcon certain things, like whether Vulcan has a moon, for example.
Michael: I think we all know Vulcan has six moons. They are just cloaked. What was the creative process like? Who came up with the general plot of the Living Campaign? What did you have to fill in?
Scott: We had some group chats to get things going and give us a general idea of what the gang at Modiphius wanted. They already had some basic ideas including the ships, the setting, and some plot points. I took a turn writing up some ideas, fleshing that out and making some changes, and then Dayton took a spin through my text, polishing it up and pushing it back on the right path when I got into the weeds!
It really was a group effort, a lot of ideas getting kicked back and forth. And, of course, I was trying to make sure it folded into canon smoothly.
Michael: How did your former experience writing Star Trek stories play into your work with STA? Did this present any challenges?
Scott: I’ve been a diehard Trek fan for about forty-five years now, seeing all the movies and watching every episode of every series. I’ve read all the licensed novels and stories except for the recent ones published by Titan, which are on my to-read stack. (My reading of the comic books is not as extensive, but I’m working on that!)
I’ve been the freelance copyeditor on the Simon & Schuster line for about four years now. All of that gives me a pretty broad and deep knowledge of the franchise, which made me a pretty good fit for “canon review guy” (I think that may be my official title). But it’s still a challenge, sometimes because of the lifetime of being a fan. That can mean putting aside some personal favorite retcon when a writer comes up with something else that makes just as much sense. And then canon is not as neat and tidy as we like to think it is, so my review of materials for the game frequently sends me digging through multiple books and watching many scenes. It’s a tough job watching Star Trek for a job, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make!
Michael (rolling eyes): Oh, my heart bleeds with sadness for your pitiful plight. What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? Why?
Scott: With fifty-plus years of material, there are so many ways that question could be answered! I’m just going to take the easy route and say that the original TV series will always hold a special place in my geeky heart. That’s what I started with, and I’m old enough that I was watching at the time when TOS was all there was. I watched it in syndication when it played in the afternoon after I got home from school, usually at my grandma’s house, and she still only had a black-and-white TV in the mid-1970s. Something about the optimism, the camaraderie, the adventure of TOS just grabbed me and never let go.
Michael: Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
Scott: There are so many great characters, so many great performances throughout the years, but because TOS still has a certain primacy for me, I think I’d pick Nimoy’s Spock. Even though he’s a bit isolated and different from everyone around him, for the most part, at least on the surface, he’s all right with that. And yet, on the inside, he struggles with his emotions and how he fits in. It makes him so relatable, as well as someone to aspire to, especially for a young teenager staring at the TV every afternoon wishing he could be that smart and cool!
Michael: What excites you the most about Star Trek Adventures?
Scott: The idea that it reaches beyond the core fans to a new generation of gamers and people just finding Star Trek for the first time. I love that Trek is still going strong and that I’m able to contribute to the franchise through my work on both the novel line and Star Trek Adventures. Being able to go on YouTube and watch people play a game I’ve worked on is so much fun. Getting to collaborate with Jim and Dayton was great too.
Michael: Are you working on anything STA related right now? Can you give us a sneak preview?
Scott: I’ve recently been reviewing material for the Sciences Division sourcebook. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to preview, so I’ll just say that it gives gamers guidance for incorporating some fan-favorite elements of the franchise into their campaigns, like time travel and a certain character and race known by a single letter. But perhaps I’ve said too much!
Michael: ‘Single letter’? Wow! Could that be “M” from James Bond?
Michael: Nevermind. What are we most likely going to find you doing if you aren’t working on Star Trek stuff?
Scott: I’d be trying to do too many things and not getting enough of any of them done. I could be writing my own original fiction, or working on Generations Geek (the podcast I do with my daughter), or trying to make my websites look only ten years out of date instead of twenty, or scrambling on various other freelance gigs, from copyediting a book on the history of beer brewing in northern Minnesota to writing an IMAX space documentary.
Michael: That is a buttload of projects. Where should your fans go if they want to keep up with your adventures?
Done deal! We will definitely keep up with your continuing missions, Scott. Thank you for your invaluable contribution to Star Trek Adventures and to the general Trek canon over the years. What a boon for us fans!