How did the Star Trek Adventures Fadings Suns module rate?
The crew of the USS Pioneer (my player group’s Intrepid-class starship) finished playing Fading Suns, a free mission included at Modiphius’ site dedicated to the Living Campaign.
Written by Ian Lemke, author of another great module, Signals , worked on Fading Suns as part of the Living Playtest Adventure. Yes, my group got to it late in the game and I can tell the difference between Ian’s first stab at a Star Trek Adventures module and the much-matured Signals. Still, it was very fun to play.
SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)
The Player’s ship is delivering scientific equipment to Epsilon 19, a scientific research station in the Osarin system, deep in the Shackleton Expanse. The star of the Osarin system is collapsing at an unusual rate and is mysteriously emitting triolic waves of increasing strength. Epsilon 19 was constructed to monitor the star and determine the reason for its rapid decay, as well as find the source of the triolic radiation.
The ship drops off the PCs and then departs the station to conduct detailed scans of the Osarin star. The PCs are invited to dine with the commander of the station, Commander Erich Johansson. They may be surprised to see that an Orion captain, Paja Tajenko, is also present at dinner. Shortly after dinner, massive explosions rock Epsilon 19, and the station experiences system-wide difficulties. The PCs find it impossible to communicate with their ship and quickly learn that a massive power surge destroyed the station’s bridge and its command crew. This leaves the PCs as the highest-ranking officers left on the station.
Exploring the damaged station, the crew discovers that the station’s fusion reactor is rapidly losing power, and all electrical devices are functioning erratically. They only have a matter of hours to figure out what is draining the station’s power and keep everyone from suffocating in the icy vacuum of space.
After conducting some research, the players discover that the cause of the sun dying is that its energy is being consumed by a cluster of cosmozoan life-forms, quickly dubbed “energy vampires” by the station’s scientists, that are feeding on the energy of the star. The triolic radiation is a byproduct of the entities feeding on the star. The star’s imminent collapse has triggered the creatures to spawn, and the spawn are now capable of leaving the star to go out into space and find their own stars to feed upon. They were undetectable because they exist out of phase with other beings. It is only the spawning that has caused them to become visible for a short period of time. Several of the spawn have been drawn to the station’s fusion reactor, which they consider a viable food source.
Fading Suns was a straightforward adventure that gave my Players the chance to delve into some fun technobabble gaming. We utilized Star Trek Adventures Supporting Characters (p.132) rules to liven up the game and introduce some “Deck 15” characters.
Supporting Characters are the other type of characters created and controlled by the Players during a game of Star Trek Adventures. Supporting Characters are less detailed and are created in a less involved manner than Main Characters and they are not permanently owned by a single Player. Instead, Supporting Characters are created as and when circumstances require within the game.
Due to the richness of characters on the away team, we were able to have a lively game with great suspense toward the end. As one of my players (whos PC almost died this mission) put it, “It was tough. I thought it would be [an] engineering-based [adventure] (which it was) but it almost killed us… (laughing) possibly due to my bad rolls. A good adventure that tied into the Trek universe quite well.”
Here is why this module earned the Tribble rating it did.
Canonicity – If you want a game where your crew gets to have it out with Orions and Nausicaans, this is the module for you. The space pirates and their bodyguards add an interesting element to the game, as amidst the radiation problems the crew must stop greedy (and in the case of our game, murderous) NPCs from taking advantage of the dire situation. Other than that, the gamemaster can add in more canonicity if they so desire.
Relatability – For lovers of Star Trek, the premise is recognizable. Stranded in a location without contact with the mothership. A life-threatening situation that spells impending doom. Characters eager to harm the away team causing more complications. Scientific prowess needed to create a solution to a one-of-a-kind problem. The Extended Tasks (p. 90) designed into the game were well-suited to the module and practically gave our PCs a heart attack.
Likability – My Players really enjoyed this module, which, of course, affects how I view it.
One said, “I liked it. Out of the few games I have been a part of, this one was my favorite. I liked how we had to think like about a solution for the solar leeches [that’s what they named the life forms] and other tasks. I just wished I could have rolled better.”
Accessibility – Yet another free module. Can’t complain.
Quality – Even though the plot was well-constructed, I did not like the way the module was organized. Unlike other modules, the NPCs and stats were scattered throughout the PDF. I was wondering why all stats weren’t just placed at the end of the document like other modules? It makes it much easier (in my opinion) to refer to stats.
Also, the Epsilon 19 station did not have any stats. This forced me to make up attributes and characteristics, though, in the end, I just dumped the idea and centered the adventure around complications happening on the station. But stats with station talents would have been a nice touch. In summation, having to jog back and forth through the module was frustrating.
Also, the name of the module was Fading Suns, but I only counted one sun involved in the adventure. Did I miss something?
Of course, I like letting my Players give their personal reviews too.
One said, “[The game] was a fun one. The rolls nearly killed a good portion of the crew, but [it] still was fun.”
(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 2, Episode 2: Fading Suns.)