How did the Star Trek Adventures Forests of the Night module rate?
The crew of the USS Pioneer (my player group’s Intrepid-class starship) finished playing Forests of the Night, a stupendous story created by Darren Watts for the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game and included in the These are the Voyages mission compendium.
This was a creatively-written module that really showed of Watts’ spanning imagination. The conflicts were not run-of-the-mill nor predictable.
SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)
“Forests of the Night” is a scenario wherein the Players’ starship has been assigned to explore a new sector, which is filled with unusual numbers of ion storms. Eventually, they pick up a strange metallic object on their sensors and realize it is an alien ship. The Player’s must investigate mysterious life signs emanating from the ship and deal with ghostly lights, dangerous plants, and something moving in the shadows.
I gave this module 5 out of 5 Tribbles! Here is how it rated:
Canonicity – This story could have fit into any period and any show in the Star Trek Universe be it TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT, or DIS. It was one of the strongest standalone adventures in the These are the Voyages mission compendium, second only to Fred Love’s Biological Clock.
Forests of the Night enjoyed the standard plot of the crew coming up on a singular stellar phenomenon and deciding how best to explore the said phenomenon. Make sure not to allow the players to spend too much time planning their approach, be it transporters or shuttle. Push them onto the ship as soon as possible. That is where the true adventure lies.
As a Star Trek Adventures game for your crew, this module is a must-have. If you are trying to have an adventure where your players’ characters can have time to interact and add depth to their characters, this is it. Let them dig into some deep conversations as they push through the underbrush and trailblaze in this strange environment.
The module ends with enough action to make it a player favorite. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love man-eating plants?
Relatability – One of my players said about the mission, “Loved it! It was unique and really felt like an alien environment we were in.”
Gamemasters’ Guidance: Once aboard the ship, don’t rush the players rush through the forest. Get super descriptive. Have them roleplay the sense of awe and wonder and finding such a distinct discovery.
For instance, here is how I described a few of the scenes, using or enhancing Darren Watts’ own work. “The away team walked into a dim and enormous jungle forest that was being maintained inside the ship itself. Sounds inundated them as well—the buzzing of insects, the trills of small birds, the croaking and murmuring of a few unknown creatures—along with the ever-present pungent odor.”
One of my players picked up on the description and narrated, “Galven’s senses were sharp and alert as she kept her eyes and ears open to the dark and vast jungle forest. Alien sounds permeated the surroundings. Insects zipped by in little swirling swarms. Little, unseen creatures made the bushes and treetops rustle. Her mouth fell open in mute wonder. She had seen some of the natural beauty of Earth while at the Academy, but this was something more; it was as if a rain forest, untouched for millennia, was open before them with all of its splendor and beauty. She shook herself a moment later, refocusing on the task at hand, but still felt her heart touched by what she was experiencing. Some time in the holodeck when she returned to the Pioneer was in order. Exploring the Amazon, perhaps?”
Utilize some concept artwork from the web to give your layers a sense of their surroundings.
Likability – One of my players said, “Loved the forest in a spaceship [idea]. I liked how pretty much everyone kept it together when the plants started to mess with us. Sorry I almost got [the captain] killed and kept feeding threat [to the threat pool]. The dice really didn’t like me.”
I have to say, my crew had one hell of a time with this game. They gave me so much threat, I could have easily scattered their molecules around the quadrant. Instead, I used the threat to give them complications related to pheromones, making them lose equipment in the thick brush, or creating awkward mishaps to better enhance the uncanny nature of the forest in the ship.
As a GM, I really, really liked this story idea, game structure, variety of monster plants, and solid wrap-up. It did not drag on at all.
In addition, my players had some good laughs with one player being responsible for a huge last-minute save. Every character walked away with an injury, which gave them the opportunity to all gain a Normal Milestone.
Accessibility – Wrapped into the These are the Voyages mission compendium, I find that this mission alone makes the purchase worth it.
(At the time of this blog post, Modiphius was sold out of These Are the Voyages. However, for those interested in picking up a PDF copy, go to DriveThruRPG.com.)
Quality – Though I would have liked more art depicting the alien plant-life, I found the dangerous flora descriptions quite creative and sufficient; boa vines, dart throwers, tentacled monstrosity, flytrap, and brainflowers all made for great threats. The variety of creatures lends itself well to a creative GM.
I had a ball describing the tentacled monstrosity: “The captain was still walking ahead of the group. She was drawn by curiosity toward a number of small plants ringing a small pond that was filled with a sweet-smelling liquid. The blossoms and buds of this plant were masses of thick, overlapping blue leaves. The leaves were slowly unfurling as the captain walked closer, her eyes turned to observe the lush canopy above their heads. Dr. Ga noticed the plant’s movements. He was too far away to get to the captain but well within earshot. Doctor Ga called out to Torres before getting ready to sprint to her. “Captain! Watch out.” The moment Dr. Ga called out, Issus saw what was transpiring. The plant was attacking the captain. Torres turned around to look at Ga, not sure what direction the danger was coming from, just as a series of tentacles shot from under the leaves toward her position.”
Once again, a high-quality game stirs the imagination of the GM and players without railroading. And don’t even get me started on the robots…
If you want an adventure that takes your players into a new, strange environment and presents interesting challenges that are outside of the normal rock-’em, sock ’em type games, Biological Clock is a good adventure. It would even make a great first campaign for a new crew.
(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 2, Episode 7: Forests of the Night.)