Klingon Empire Review, Part 2

Back again with more Klingon action! I covered the first half of the book in Part 1, then a deep dive into Klingon Houses in a second post. We’re going to finish up the review today with a look at the equipment of Klingon characters, the GM’s side of things, and then some of the adventures in the book.

This post originally appeared on my site Mephit James’ Blog.

Weapons and Equipment

For Federation crews, equipment isn’t a huge part of the gameplay of Star Trek Adventures and that remains the case with Klingon crews. You obtain info by just declaring it, paying an Opportunity cost in Momentum, or paying an Escalation cost in Threat. This book has a more Klingon tone in its examples but these rules will be familiar to STA fans. There’s a short section about Klingon technology through the game’s different eras, similar to the Federation discussion in the original core rulebook but more helpful since we don’t see Klingon sets as often.

The section on weapons has all the same rules as well and a similar weapons table. There are some new options like the painstik or the modular disruptor pistol, but I was expecting more in the way of Klingon weaponry at this point. We don’t need tons of new rules (although I added a couple in my equipment document in a previous post), and the examples of daggers, blades, and heavy blades is expanded to include Klingon items like the mevak and the gin’tak. Still, these examples are just names in this book and without a weapons spread (a la Dungeons and Dragons) the players are let to look up the weapon descriptions themselves. Considering the emphasis placed on bladed weaponry in Klingon culture, there could be a lot more here.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Light and heavy body armor, environmental suits, Klingon tricorders, engineering and medical devices, and more are given brief descriptions (most of which you could extrapolate from the Federation book), and then we’re on to the Conflict chapter. There’s a ton here but most of it isn’t surprising to STA veterans. Klingons have both Social and Personal Conflict and while the examples given are thoroughly Klingon the rules are repeat. However, there are a lot more examples in this book including a full-page sidebar with an example melee combat (the trickier kind of combat, and a hallmark of Klingon stories) which is excellent. Not only does this example run through a full round of combat, and not only does it use a lot of tactical play with fancy options, but it uses the final fight scene from the DS9 episode “Blood Oath” as a template meaning that players can watch that and read this to really see how the game emulates the series. There might not be new rules in this section but the streamlined presentation really is an improvement.

Klingon Ships

Making a ship for your Klingon crew is just like making one for your Federation crew, though there are cultural differences to life on board (and another description of the roles and how to kill to advance) that also gets some attention. You start with a spaceframe that gives you the base stats and default Talents, and potentially add some refits if its an older design for the era you’re playing in. Ship Systems and Departments are the same (though they’re given in both English and Klingon) and the station actions as well, but there’s a succinct sidebar adding options for boarding parties.

In a nutshell, the Internal Systems station handles transportation to and from the enemy ship while the Security Oversight position can cause breaches with boarding parties or create Complications with sabotage. This is an awesome expansion to the rules, small and manageable but deepening part of the game in a concrete way. There’s a long example of starship combat as well, again using a scene from DS9 (the Rotarran‘s rescue of the I.K.S. B’Moth in “Soldiers of the Empire“).

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

There are a lot of spaceframes in here, more than I was expecting. Some of them we’ve seen before as NPC ships: the D7 battle cruiser, B’rel-class bird-of-prey, K’Vort-class bird-of-prey, and Vor’cha-class destroyer from the original core rulebook and the D5 battle cruisers, Raptor-class scouts, and Negh’Var-class warship from the Beta Quadrant Sourcebook. I’m pleased to see that the authors here took the same approach that I and others have with these ships, using the NPC stats as a starting point but balancing the spaceframes with the Federation options.

There are also many new options for combat ships including the Vo’N’Talk-class bird-of-prey (the 22nd century one), the K’Toch scout (the crashed ship from “Broken Bow“), Qo’toch-class heavy fighter (pure invention from what I can tell), and the D12 bird-of-prey (Klaa’s ship). The authors also have tried hard to give non-combat ship designs as well including the Tu’YuQ exploratory ship, Pach’Nom-class multirole explorer, Iw’Cha’Par-class heavy explorer, Klingon civilian transport, Par’tok-class transport, and the Toron-class shuttlepod.

All of these (except the shuttlepod) are invented for this book I believe. All of these spaceframes have some fun common rules including the cloaking device, but also a targ pit (a Trait that gives a food and morale source). On the negative side, nearly all of the ships that haven’t been in previous books lack images from on the screen and there aren’t any spaceframe illustrations here. That means players are left to imagine the ship on their own and they won’t picture the same thing. Since the ship is supposed to be a major part of the show (arguably its own character) that is a big stumbling block to immersing your players.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Mission Profiles are the same in execution but there are plenty of changes for Klingon ships. The Scientific and Survey Operations and the Strategic and Diplomatic Operations profiles are almost identical with a few tweaks (mostly more combat). The Crisis Response and Interception, the Multirole Battlecruiser, and the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Operations profiles are a little more adjusted from their Federation counterparts (which should be easy to match up) but familiar. The Warship profile is the equivalent of Tactical Operations and is all-out combat. Lastly, the House Guard profile is a really cool option that makes for a very defensive ship, the type of older design maintained by a House to defend their holdings and demonstrate strength.

I don’t see any new Talents (although Quantum Torpedoes has a later date requirement), Traits are the same (Bird-of-Prey is a common Trait which matches what Takeshi and I have made), and then we get a brief overview of Klingon starbases and colonies. I’m happy to see that they’re approach to colonies is similar to my own but also worried that I’ll get scooped!

Allies and Adversaries

There are some NPC stats for alien vessels as well, most of which are repeats from other sources (though with Klingon intros). On the other hand, there are statblocks for NPC versions of many of the Federation’s classes from the original core rulebook: the Akira, Constellation, Constitution (and refit), Defiant, Excelsior, Galaxy, Intrepid, and Miranda classes. After this the Romulans’, Cardassians’, Dominion’s, Borg Collective’s, and Ferengi’s ships from the original core rulebook appear here.

Gamemaster rules are similar to above, the same mechanically but with some helpful clarifications, and there are guidelines for creating Notable and Major NPCs as well as NPC special rules. In terms of provided NPCs, then, there are the Starfleet, Romulan, Cardassian, Ferengi, Dominion, and Borg statblocks from the original core rulebook are there as well as some new beasts such as the Denevan neural parasite, glommer, Talarian hook spiders, Tribbles (!), mugatos, sehlat, Berengarian dragons, and (of course) targs.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Klingons, understandably, have a ton of new NPC blocks for your campaign needs. The Klingon warrior and Klingon veteran from the original core rulebook are here but also a science analyst, corpsman (medics), engineer, pilot, border agent, ship’s cook, and infiltrator (spy). These should give you plenty of supporting character templates as well as agents of rival Houses and allies in the KDF. Then we get into the named canon characters and hoo boy are there plenty of these…

For Enterprise era games there are Klaang and Antaak (the only named Klingons in Enterprise from what I can tell). In original series era games we have Mara, “Arne Darvin,” Commander Kruge, Maltz, Commander Klaa, Vixis, General Chang, General Korrd, Valkris, Ambassador Kamarag, Chancellor Gorkon, and Chancellor Azetbur. The trio of warriors Kang, Koloth, and Kor (maybe my favorite Klingon) could be 23rd century characters but also extend into the 24th century. Specifically for the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager eras, we get Lieutenant Klag, Captain Korris, Chancellor K’mpec, Gowron, Duras, Lursa, B’Etor, K’ehleyr, Alexander Rozhenko, Kurn, Worf (different all around from his appearance in the Next Generation crew set), Kahless II, and Grilka.

If you can’t tie your Klingon campaign into the canon with these, you aren’t trying.

Included Adventures

This review is going to end with a look at the adventures included in the book, that’s right adventures. As in plural. There’s a full introductory mission here but also a bunch of what the book calls “mission briefs.” These short summaries cover suggestions for eras of play, spotlight roles, synopses, major and minor beats, key NPCs and advice on adding the mission. They’re nearly everything you need to flesh out a full mission write up and if you like winging it a little as a GM (I do) then it’s everything you need. TonyPi gave the first fan mission brief (that I’ve seen) called “The Order of the Amber Pendant,” so check that out if you want.

I’m only going to give a bare description of each of these, but obviously they are spoilers. Your favorite bug-eyed Klingon Gowron is here to block your entry so that you don’t blunder into spoilers. If you don’t want to hear about these missions, just scroll ahead until you see his scowling face again.

Image Modified from © CBS
  • Strength of Belief is an exploration of Klingon culture, featuring a dark cult of Klingons on the fringe clashing with the Empire at large.
  • The Honored Undead features a medical crisis with dying Klingons who don’t stay dead like they should.
  • Disruptors at Dawn is a combat-heavy scenario on a remote outpost that channels Seven Samurais.
  • Move and Counter-Move is more of an intrigue mission with the crew headed to a world with Federation, Klingon, and Romulan intelligence forces.
  • The Great Gorn Gaffe is a clash between some of Star Trek‘s greatest warriors when your Klingon crew has to confront Gorn troublemakers.
  • Dinner for Two is a thoroughly Klingon scenario that might involve no fighting at all! Instead it features Social Conflict situations with a famous opera composer.
  • Gale Force is a space-focused scenario involving stopping Romulan ships from encroaching on Klingon space.
  • Subversion is a science-based mission investigating strange influences on the crew before they tear the ship apart.
  • My Ally Or My Enemy takes place at the end of Chancellor K’mpec’s rule, featuring a political story as the High Council maneuvers and squabbles.
  • Broken Promises is a KDF story of dishonorable actions and sabotage. The culprits need to be uncovered before the situation turns serious.
  • Who Holds Dominion Here? takes place as the Klingon Empire enters the Dominion War. Launch an attack against a Dominion outpost and potentially capture a key defector in the process.
  • Where’s the Gagh? is another Dominion War story with ships caught behind enemy lines as their supplies dwindle.
  • The Oracle of Bar’koth Reach is the full-scale introductory adventure in the book, a group of warriors seeking a traditional blessing and the honor that comes with it. The Reach is more than it seems, though, and receiving the blessing (not to mention coming out alive) means as much discovery as fighting.
Modified Image from © CBS

Conclusion

Let me start by saying that this is a great product that has made me more than ready to run a Klingon campaign. It’s an awesome, brilliant adaptation of the original game that both captures the feel of Klingon storylines while maintaining the integrity of the Star Trek Adventures systems. It’s great.

The question, though, is whether it’s worth the price. There’s a lot of repeat material here that people probably already have with the original core rulebook. On the other hand, this book doesn’t cost that much in the grand scheme but when you buy something that’s 40% stuff you already have I can see how that would rub you the wrong way. Even with the repeat, though, there is a lot of updating and streamlining of materials. There might not be any new mechanics here but the explanations make it a lot easier

If you love Klingons, this is a no-brainer. If you are planning to mostly run Starfleet crews, I think it’s maybe less of a priority. Don’t put it too far down your list, though, since this book is pretty incredible. It’s not just a Klingon vanity project, this book really does advance the game a lot. If any of it seems appealing, my recommendation is to gather your courage and go for it.

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