Star Trek Adventures RPG fans were thrilled on October 24, 2019 with the release of Star Trek Adventures: Strange New Worlds. SNW is the second mission compendium for the STA franchise. It presents nine ready-to-play missions for Star Trek Adventures. Within this book Gamemasters will find the means to test their Starfleet officers while encountering a variety of strange new worlds and the lifeforms they contain.
I was piloting my runabout over the Artic circle when my sensors spotted a lone figure (and his cat) trudging through a blizzard headed for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the unofficial northern terminus of the Pan-American Highway.
Thinking the poor soul to be lost, I beamed the person aboard only to discover Jim Johnson, Star Trek Adventures Line Manager at Modiphius, bundled in thermal gear petting his feline friend.
Michael: Jim! What a surprise! What are you doing out here?
Jim: Visiting a strange new town. I think I got absorbed in the new release.
What a natural segue to what I wanted our next interview to be about. Got a moment?
Yeah. I guess you do. So Strange New Worlds released this week. Right off the bat, why should we buy this book?
You should buy this book because it has nine more standalone adventures for Star Trek Adventures, spanning the three eras of play (ENT, TOS, and TNG/DS9/VOY), all themed around the concept of ‘strange new worlds’. And because it looks so cool with the three different era design layouts incorporated into it.
How many writers worked on this project?
Ten writers in total, including myself. Nine writers wrote one adventure each, and I wrote the introduction and provided development and editing as well.
How long did it take to pull it all together?
The writing phase was fairly short, a few months from pitch to final draft, and then post-writing production and reviews took much longer, mostly because designer resources at Modiphius over the last year+ were kept very busy working on a lot of awesome game products, not just Star Trek Adventures.
I have to say. The production of gaming fodder for STA fans has been prolific in a rather short time. What sets this compendium apart from all of the other Star Trek Adventures material released by Modiphius so far?
It’s our second mission compendium, and unlike the first one, These are the Voyages, we designed this one from the start around the theme of presenting strange new worlds, right in line with the Star Trek ethos. Unlike most of the other STA supplements, which are divisional sourcebooks or quadrant sourcebooks, the adventure supplements provide ready-made adventures for gamemasters to use as one-shots, starting points for new campaigns, or as a drop-in to an existing campaign.
What did you learn while working on this compendium of adventures? What surprised you the most?
I learned that developing an adventure anthology is a lot like developing a fiction anthology—there are a lot of authors to contact and a lot of ‘herding tribbles’ around to get the right pieces of content together that work individually as well as together as a whole.
I was also reminded that a product such as a print RPG product has a ton of moving parts, and some parts of the development process not related to writing or editing take a long time and can be impacted by a lot of factors that have nothing to do with the project itself. A gigantic amount of work went into the book that most gamers and fans will have no idea about because they just see the final product. The hasperat-making is safely behind the scenes.
What does the title mean? (Yes. I know it’s obvious but I need to hear what you say.)
It means we’re exploring some strange new worlds, locations, places, and things not seen before in Star Trek episodes. I encouraged the writers to push at the boundaries and to show something we might not normally see on screen due to makeup, costume, CGI, or budget constraints.
How was the art inspired? Does the story come first or the art? Do you converse with the artists at all or does corporate manage all of that?
All the art was inspired by the adventures presented by the writers. Part of my job as line manager and book developer is to review the draft manuscripts and think about what art should accompany the text, to illustrate specific areas of the text or to complement the material. Some of the authors provided sketches or pictures to get at what they were looking for, and I adapted those into art briefs that were sent to our in-house art coordinator. The art coordinator works directly with the artists to develop concept sketches and final versions of the art, with my approval as well as consultation with writers as needed, to ensure the images are accurately presenting what the writers envisioned. It’s a pretty collaborative process. CBS Studios gets final approval on everything, of course, so there are no surprises in the content and nothing that would be seen as off-brand.
Now, I have to ask. There has been a lot of churning out there about this. When can fans expect Modiphius to produce a 3D map of the Milky Way Galaxy so that we understand the real spatial relation of the various galactic powers?
Hah, Star Trek fans have wanted something like that for decades. It’d be a big project, something bigger than Modiphius would be likely to tackle. It’s good to dream big, though!
In the meantime, I encourage folks to look for copies of Star Charts and Stellar Cartography—both are wonderful map resources I refer to constantly when developing Star Trek Adventures material.
Okay. Now the million-dollar question: If you were a specific component of a Federation starship, what part would you be? Why?
Probably turbolift control. As line manager, I’m in charge of a lot of moving parts, and in getting people and material to the right place at the right time so that the overall mission can move forward.
Love the analogy! And so true! Jim, thanks for another great interview and keep the great content coming for what is definitely my favorite RPG of all time!