How did the Star Trek Adventures The Ghost Writer module rate?
The crew of the USS Pioneer (my player group’s Intrepid-class starship) finished playing The Ghost Writer, a free mission included in Modiphia Issue #3 (Spring 2018). Writer Michael Duxbury created a fascinating story that had one of my players saying, “This adventure was definitely one that makes you think. I loved having to really dig in and see what makes for a person’s work [intellectual property] and who has the right to them.”
SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)
The away team receives a rescue broadcast from Marina Lazapolous, the daughter of famed philosopher George Lazapoulus, who claims to be held hostage by the artificial intelligence of her deceased father’s moon base. The AI is called the Ghost Writer. It seeks to publish one last work in the name of George Lazapoulos. Marina, still mourning about her father’s loss, disagrees. The away team must mediate the argument and try to come up with a good resolution.
The Ghost Writer module only two-and-a-half pages long and lives up to the term “short but sweet”. I had no idea that this would, insofar, be my favorite campaign so far. Here is why it earned my 5-Tribble rating:
Canonicity – Duxbury hit it out of the ballpark by referencing such great Star Trek episodes like The Measure of a Man (TNG S2 E9) and Family (TNG S4 E2). My players had to do research to determine legal precedent for deciding an AI’s sentience. This charged up some heated argument among the group. I handed out Determination to get the players to take opposite sides, which really helped charge up the tension in the moon base.
Relatability – Anytime a story takes my players back to old episodes of Star Trek™: The Next Generation is a welcome event. All of my players were heavily engaged the entire time and did well interacting with the NPCs.
Likability – If I could give a bonus Tribble to this module I would! What I liked about this module the most was how extremely unlikable Marina proved to be (except for one of the players who had a Kirk-level makeout session with her). The Ghost Writer sent chills up everyone’s spines too as he spouted out his master’s philosophy, which proved more threatening than a rabid Klingon much of the time.
Accessibility – The module is free. How much more accessible can you get?
Quality – This is my first time playing a module written by Michael Duxbury. I have one thing to say: Keep them coming, Mike! To be able to write such a succinct module that contains amazing drama and engages players in a riveting non-violent conflict takes great skill.
One of our teen players commented, “I liked how Echo [the crew’s Experimental Computer-generated Holographic Officer] was caught between a rock and a hard place. I had to figure out what choice to make.”
The commanding officer in the mission said, “I loved the tension that this adventure had. The paranoia, however, may have been self-induced. The debate and level of thought it induced made it for me, though.” (Here is his official After Action Report.)
If you want a drama-dribbling, hauntingly good module that explores the themes of loss and intellectual property rights, play The Ghost Writer.
(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 1, Episode 11: The Ghost Writer.)