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 masterminds at Modiphius only want to deliver the best of the best to its players. Anyone who has picked up any of the Star Trek Adventure supplements has been wowed by the great setups that lead to wonderful storytelling. I was able to corner author Marco Rafalà as he was offloading a Vulcan schooner at Deep Space Nine and plow him with some questions about his work with Modiphius.
Michael: How did you get involved working on the Star Trek Adventures game?
Marco: I’m a freelance game writer. My first freelance gig in the tabletop games industry was for The One Ring Roleplaying Game from Cubicle 7. I co-wrote an adventure with Richard Harrison, a good friend of mine, called What Lies Beneath in the scenario book, Ruins of the North. That led to more freelance work for The One Ring.
I had such a wonderful experience that I started looking at other games for more work. That’s when I saw the announcement that Modiphius was developing Star Trek Adventures. I checked out their website for more information and saw a call for freelance writers. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to be able to work on two of my favorite childhood properties? Tolkien’s Middle-earth and Roddenberry’s Star Trek. So I contacted Modiphius right away and made my pitch. That pitch turned into A World With A Bluer Sun, a standalone adventure set during The Original Series era for These Are the Voyages.
Do you have any other work going on we should know about?
As a freelance writer, I’ve written several standalone adventures that are in various pipelines for release. I also wrote the introductory campaign, A Star Beyond the Stars, included in the Star Trek Adventures Starter Set, which is available for pre-order. But if you don’t want the box set, the campaign is available now on its own as a standalone PDF at the Modiphius online store and at DriveThruRPG.
Wow. You are just pumping it out. What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? Why?
I don’t know that I have an absolute favorite part of the canon. I grew up watching reruns of The Original Series with my older brother, so it’s always fun to revisit that series. Balance of Terror, The Doomsday Machine, and City on the Edge of Forever are some of my favorite episodes.
By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation aired, I was in high school. Who Watches the Watchers, Yesterday’s Enterprise, and Darmok are standouts for me from that series.
But if I had to pick a favorite part of Star Trek from its long history, I’d have to say the classic movie era and DS9. I love the visual aesthetic of those early films, from the uniforms to the ship designs, and props. But on television, it was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that broke the mold. It was more character-driven, less black and white, more complicated. It fought against the constraints of TV at the time, eschewing the episodic formula. In The Pale Moonlight and Far Beyond the Stars might be the best episodes of any Star Trek series.
So, I gotta’ ask: Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
Some children play Cops and Robbers. My older brother and I played Captain Kirk and Mister Spock. We explored alien planets in our backyard and derelict spaceships in our dusty attic.
In those games, I was always Spock. As the son of an American mother and a Sicilian immigrant father, Spock resonated with me. Here was a character born of mixed parentages, like me. And like me, he struggled with these two sides of himself. His Human mother’s side and his Vulcan father’s side were always at odds with one another. I recognized this in myself, and in my parent’s relationship, in the arguments they would have.
I was an alien to my father, a strange scrawny thing, a nerd and a bookworm, someone who played Dungeons & Dragons. As a young boy, I felt that my American half somehow disappointed him. These feelings of alienation extended to my relationships outside the home as well. Even when I made friends, I never felt like I belonged. I didn’t know where or how I fit in. I wasn’t a Sicilian. But I wasn’t really an American either. So what was I? What did it mean to be Sicilian-American? Nimoy’s portrayal of the half-Human, half-Vulcan Spock helped me navigate those two cultures and find my own answers.
That is deep to a new level. Now we all have the chance to play our favorite characters if we choose to do so. What excites you the most about Star Trek Adventures?
I love narrative tabletop roleplaying games so any chance to get to write for one is a joy. But if you had told my ten-year-old self that someday I’d write for Star Trek Adventures, I would have squealed.
You can still squeal now.
(Marco squealing at the top of his lungs.)
(Holding hands over ears.) Okay, you can stop now. Back to the interview. What are we most likely going to find you doing if you aren’t absorbed in Star Trek Adventures?
I’m a novelist, freelance game writer, and tabletop gamer. Playing games has taken a backseat lately to the demands of the novel and my writing for games. I do hope to have free time again soon to sit around a table with friends for some imaginative play with paper and dice. In the meantime, I’m hard at work preparing for the release of my debut literary novel, How Fires End. The novel is out next year from Little A.
You can learn more about my forthcoming novel, the next one after that, and the games I write and design from my newsletter (see link below this interview).
Well, can we get a bit of a preview? What’s the novel about?
Set in post-World War II Sicily and late-eighties America, How Fires End tells the story of three men bound together across generations by an act of violence in a war-ravaged Sicilian village. When Salvatore’s twin brothers are killed playing with an unexploded shell in Sicily, the force of the explosion ricochets throughout his life as he struggles to understand this tragedy and fights to escape its legacy. But the wound of Salvatore’s violent past threatens the future of his American-born son, David, who looks into the dark secret at the heart of his family and glimpses hints of something darker.
Anyone who reads, plays, or watched Star Trek knows that great literature is a big part of the show. Who knows, maybe one of my characters will mention your book in an upcoming gaming session as, in the future, you will have no doubt joined the list of great American novelists.
Marco, I am sure the fans of Star Trek Adventures are thrilled to have your creative genius on deck. Please keep us updated on how the novel is coming along.
If you want to see more of Marco’s work check out the links below!