Continuing Mission is dedicated to bringing you the best and brightest stars in the STA gaming world. This week we have Patrick Goodman, longtime gamer and writer for Star Trek Adventures. I couldn’t wait to tap into his brain and hear about his illustrious career with Star Trek RPGs.
Michael: You seem to have a long history with Star Trek RPGs. Can you tell us about that?
Patrick: How far back do you want to go? I started playing Star Trek RPGs back in the Eighties, with the second edition of the classic FASA game (most of the materials for which I still have). I never got much of a chance to do anything with the game put out by Last Unicorn Games because I could never get a group together.
In the early 2000s, I picked up the Decipher edition of the game, and I discovered I really, really liked it. I liked it so much that, for a short time, I was actually the net representative for Decipher for the game. I even helped edit the e-book they put out for the Mirror Universe.
Of course, it was close to the end of the Decipher license (and all the unfortunate things that went into that). Once Decipher had gone under, I realized I had a lot of material for the game lying around, and I started putting it online. That grew into my CODA Trek support site, Beyond the Final Frontier (http://strpg.patrickgoodman.org).
Then along came Modiphius and Star Trek Adventures, where we find ourselves now. So yeah, a little north of 35 years of Star Trek RPG gaming.
Oh, man, it sounds brutal when you just say it like that, doesn’t it…?
With age, comes wisdom. You are very wise. What other RPGs besides Star Trek-related do you play?
Like a lot of people, I started with D&D lo these many years ago. Specifically, I started with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons before it had an edition number. That was…that was close to 40 years ago now.
Over the past several years, most of my gaming has been in Shadowrun, which I’ve played since it came out in 1989, and which is about 180 degrees from Star Trek in terms of tone and intent. Shadowrun, in fact, was how I got into writing for RPGs in the first place.
How did you get involved working on the Star Trek Adventures game?
When Chris Birch, the founder and fearless leader at Modiphius, announced that the game was going to be coming out, he included a link to the game’s page on their website. One of the entries on that page said, “We’re looking for writers!”
I’d been writing for Shadowrun, at that point, for something like 15 years, on and off, and by that time my BTFF website was a going concern and a very popular place for players of the old Decipher RPG. So I sent Modiphius my CV, some references, and a link to some of my Trek material on BTFF. I then sat beside my computer very nervously for several days. One day, I had a message from Chris and Sam Webb, who would go on to become the line developer for the game, saying essentially, “You want to come and play?”
As it happened, I did.
So, this was your first time working with them?
I am a humble freelance writer, working on the game on a case-by-case basis. This was my first time working with them (I’d scarcely heard of them before STA was announced), and it’s been a pleasant experience.
What, if any, connections did you find between the Star Trek RPGs of the past and Star Trek Adventures? Did the past help you or haunt you?
Beyond the common thread of Star Trek, you mean? I think they were all products of their times, but at the heart of all of them, I think there was a genuine love for Star Trek in its many forms. You can’t write a role-playing game and not love the subject, or it’s going to show. Some of them were more immersive than others; the FASA game and STA are both much more in-universe than, say, the Decipher game.
I didn’t have a lot of issues with the past helping or haunting me; I mostly wrote fluff material designed to give players a feel for the universe (specifically, in my case, the twenty-third century, since that’s where my greatest area of expertise lies).
The only real exception to that is when I was writing up the stats for the classic crew from the original series. Some of these characters hadn’t been written up in decades, if at all, so there was a little bit of pressure there. So I guess you could say that haunted me. Fortunately, those characters seem to have been well-received.
What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? Why?
Hope. I grew up during the Cold War, and the thing I loved about Star Trek as a kid was seeing that, at least in that timeline, we didn’t blow ourselves up. We matured, and you had all sorts of people from different countries, with different skin tones, working together. There was hope for the future.
But that’s the series itself. The canon? The ideals of the Federation, and specifically Starfleet. I’m an idealist at heart and seeing how other people also had ideals and tried, however imperfectly, to live up to them inspired me as a child. I wasn’t as impressed how those ideals got muddied in some of the later shows, but muddy or not, they were there.
Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
I could be glib and say Spock, because he was the outsider looking in, like I was as a kid, but I’m not going to. In the original series, my favorite turned out to be Sulu, because he had the coolest job: He got to actually drive the Enterprise, and how cool would that be
Uhura was my very first crush, and that honestly hasn’t changed much over the years.
Recently, I decided to give Discovery another chance, and this has led me to a couple of conclusions. One of them is that I’d follow Captain Christopher Pike, as portrayed by Anson Mount on DSC, straight into Hell. The canon records that he was a tremendous leader, and so far that is coming through in spades, and I’m loving it. “Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous.” Words to live by.
The other conclusion is that I’d probably set the galaxy on fire a world at a time for Sylvia Tilly’s smile. I adore Tilly, though not for all the same reasons many folks do. I love her enthusiasm and her optimism, like most people, but it’s not for the same reasons, I don’t think. See, my oldest son is autistic, and I see a lot of him in Tilly and how she interacts with the world. It hasn’t been stated outright that she’s on the spectrum, but I know that I (and a lot of other people who are on the spectrum or love someone who is) definitely see it.
And it’s beautiful, because once people see her for her, for Sylvia, they treat her just like one of the gang, more or less, and that gives those of us who live with autism some hope that our kids and siblings will be treated that way, as well.
What excites you the most about Star Trek Adventures?
I love how open it is. While the presentation is decidedly twenty-fourth century Starfleet, it’s actually remarkably open. You can by design run just about every era portrayed on screen (though you have to do some of the work yourself if you’re running, say, a twenty-ninth century Timefleet game or something like that). But you can also run any organization. Klingons? Sure, no problem. Civilians? Yeah, we can do that, too. You just have to look past the labels a little bit.
Are you working on anything STA related right now? Can you give us a sneak preview?
Nothing official at the moment. I turned in the crew for Star Trek: Enterprise a little while back, and it’s sitting in approvals at CBS. I don’t know when that’s due to see the light of day, but I hope it won’t be too much longer.
Strictly as a fan, I’ve been doing some character write-ups. I recently finished sheets for the aforementioned Captain Christopher Pike as he’s portrayed in Discovery; that’s already up here on Continuing Mission. I’m at work on a sheet for Tilly at the moment, as well. The other characters for DSC…well, we’ll see. I definitely want to write up LCdr Stamets and L’Rell at some point.
I’m also a fan of the non-canon, but wholly worth your time, fan series Star Trek Continues, which sees the completion of Kirk’s five-year mission. Exemplary stuff, with incredible production values and some really nice additional characters. Since I wrote the TOS characters, I felt like I should write up a couple of the new ones from STC. I started with Dr. Elise McKennah, and I’ll be adding a couple of the others soon.
What are we most likely going to find you doing if you aren’t working on Star Trek stuff?
Well, I’m a father of three, and we homeschool, so there’s that. I have my day job I have to think about. I like to cook the occasional meal; I find it relaxing.
A while back, I started a YouTube channel where I discussed science fiction and gaming. That kind of stalled out due to a lot of real-world pressures, but since some of those are easing up, I’m looking to reboot that and get back in the saddle.
Mostly, though, it’s just me spending time with my family.
Patrick, thank you so much for four decades of RPG contributions. We can’t wait to see more of your work in the years to come. You truly have lived long and prospered!