How did the Star Trek Adventures Signals module rate?
The crew of the USS Pioneer (my player group’s Intrepid-class starship) just finished playing We Are The Stars The Sing With Our Life, a mission included in Modiphius’ Star Trek Adventures Living Campaign. Writer Aaron Pollyea wrote an interesting but noncommital module that forced the gamemaster to spend quite some time guessing the connection of this module to the rest of the Living Campaign. Anyone can take part in the free Living Campaign by signing up here.
SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)
Following the discoveries on Seku VI during the episode “Signals,” Starfleet has ordered all starships assigned to Narendra Station to the region around the Alpha Toryui star system. They are to assist in the recovery of a civilian archaeological team and in assisting a Starfleet Corps of Engineers Geospatial survey platoon from Alpha Toryui II after long-range sensors detected that the primary of the system was days from gravitational collapse and becoming a supernova.
Once in system, it quickly becomes apparent that the archaeologists have discovered an ancient civilization that had settled the second world and are recovering unique artifacts. This discovery complicates matters as the intense gravimetric ripples in space-time from the beginnings of the stellar collapse are making transporter systems unable to function properly.
The Players must first figure out the timetable at which the star will undergo collapse, determine that the recovery operations aren’t possible in the timeframe given, and improve the transporter systems enough that it is possible to use them for transport.
Honestly, I read the module about five times asking myself, what is it exactly that these artifacts do? How do they connect with all of the other technology we have run into in the Living Campaign?
This makes me have to break down my Tribble rating above:
Canonicity – This is where the module lost a point for me. I couldn’t quite see the connection to the other modules in the Living Campaign Series. This forced me to come up with the answer and hope it doesn’t conflict with any future modules. Did anyone else have this problem?
Relatability – Overall, the technology available for a large-scale evacuation was highlighted. My crew spent more time digging into what its like to be in the operations department and researching the artifacts than freaking out about getting everyone off of Toryui II in time. The module seemed to want to focus on this Lt. Hal Thompson person, but he fell into the background shortly after his first appearance since I feel the Living Campaign has more build up about the tech, not the people, of the Shackleton Expanse.
Likability – If it wasn’t for the fact that I interweaved some drama from a recurring plot device into our game, this module would have seemed disjointed. Players would have been left with a “Huh? Now what?” kind of feeling. As a GM, this was not my favorite module as I had to put all the puzzle pieces together in my head. As GM, I should know the answers so that I can make the players scratch their heads. I shouldn’t be scratching my head too.
Accessibility – The module is free. Can’t complain about that.
Quality – Aaron is a good writer. He understands the mechanics of Star Trek Adventures and does a good job describing task requirements. I really like how he delves into the science of astronomical physics. He did this in the Tug of War module too. That made this very interesting for my crew who had to employ the Scientific Method twice in the game.
I wish I knew a general direction the Living Campaign was going. I think each module should reveal a little bit more of the larger plot, at least to the gamemasters. I am not sure how much the writers’ hands are tied on this matter.
I am not the type to leave my players without tasty morsels of information to make them feel like they are making headway. So I had no choice but to commit to the purpose of the artifacts that appear in this module and their correlation with the other discoveries in the Expanse. Hope I didn’t stray too far away from the intention of the Living Campaign.
(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 1, Episode 6: We Are The Star, Part I.)