How did the Star Trek Adventures Call Back Yesterday module rate?
For more on the Revised Tribble Rating System 2021, click here.
The crew of the USS Pioneer (my player group’s Intrepid-class starship) finished playing Call Back Yesterday, a stupendous story created by Christopher L. Bennett for the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game.
If you want a module that will enrichen the backgrounds and stories of your players’ characters, this is it! My players went overboard, calling this one of the best games we have ever played… and we have played dozens of modules!
SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)
“Call Back Yesterday” is a standalone 16 page PDF adventure by Christopher L. Bennett that has your Starfleet crew relive past memories, on a strange, abandoned planet. Can your crew overcome delusions and uncover what’s really going on?.
- Comprehensibility – 5 Tribbles. I found this adventure easy to absorb and even easier to run as a gamemaster. Why? This story involved drawing my players deep into their characters’ psyches, past traumas, and provocative moments. Once they started down that road, they took it from there, creating tales that highlighting why they have the Values they do.
The objective of the campaign, which was responding to a distress signal, was clear and carried throughout the module. Bennett’s writing style is easy to understand, with his directives on what rolls to make when well-defined. He provides direction on creating the memories for your players to help design the hallucinations that are part of the adventure. Bennett also did an excellent job providing a motive for the Major NPCs, so much so that one of them became a recurring character used in a future adventure. I love it when I get to play an antagonist with purpose.
- Originality – 4 Tribbles. Though the module borrows off of a piece of Ferengi technology first seen in The Next Generation, Bennett’s deployment of the thought maker was exceptional. The location of ancient alien ruins is a common setting, as are Romulans. But the challenge the characters had to overcome overshadowed the use of a routine setting and common species.
My players were not expecting the story to develop the way it did. One said, “It was a wonderful delve into our characters’ history and mindset. Really had me craving to know what was real or not.” And another commented, “A lot of great internal conflict all around. Lots of character development. Very good storytelling. What a great module!”
The fact that Bennett’s module had my players working to tell great stories contributes to the rating in this category.
- Sci-Fi Concepts – 3 Tribbles. It helped that I could refer to an old TNG episode, “The Battle”, as a frame of reference for the Ferengi thought maker. Still, Bennett does a good job explaining how it works and what it does. Manipulating memories is a common trope in Star Trek, so players had no problem accepting the science presented in this module. It was not an original sci-fi idea, but it was employed well.
- Social Conflict Potential – 5 Tribbles. This adventure was rife with social conflict as my players’ characters met people from their past that shaped their current state of being. Social conflict was rampant and emotions ran high as people battled their inner demons. My players tell it best.
“Good character development. This module really depends on already having established characters that everyone understands to really get the most out of,” one stated.
Another explained, “The tension and character development possibilities are fantastic and the nod to previous Star Trek history was really a great bonus for me. Throw the Romulans in there and this was easily my favorite episode that I’ve played in a series of really great ones. It takes a great GM to know his characters and really bring out the best in this episode, so there is a bit of a learning curve in that respect.”
Finally, another said, “putting character histories in the forefront is a great way to emphasize a part of character development that often gets forgotten after the first session. It’s up there with “The Pegasus” (TNG) and “Shakaar” (DS9), reminding you that these characters had entire lives before we met them.”
This is an outstanding module to flesh out the values and background of your players.
- Adaptability – 4 Tribbles This module can be adapted to drop into any era, though the technology might need to be tweaked since Ferengis first appear in TNG. Still, mind control devices are common tropes in Star Trek, no matter the era. You might be playing in a campaign far away from the borders of the Romulan Star Empire. This might mean you need to swap out the Romulans for another hostile species, perhaps a race of aliens desiring to learn more about Starfleet or Klingons using hostile means. Though minimal, I suspect that most GMs would need to put some work in before launching this story.
Other than that, the setting doesn’t need many changes and this serves as a good one-shot adventure that you can drop into your game or add to a longer story arc, perhaps as a way to learn more about your player characters’ motivations.
FINAL SCORE: 4.2
If you want an adventure that allows you to really highlight your player characters’ Values, flesh out their background, and encourage your players to tell their story, this is the one!
(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 2, Episode 10: Call Back Yesterday.)