Keith Garrett is a US-based freelance writer and editor. He has worked on tabletop roleplaying games such as Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, Savage Worlds, Vampire, Mutant Crawl Classics, John Carter of Mars, and Pathfinder Second Edition. In addition, he’s written articles for the gaming blog Gnome Stew, and contributed to community projects such as the Dungeon Crawl Classics Gongfarmer’s Almanac and the 200 Word RPG Challenge. He loves gaming (all types), computer tech, science fiction, running, animals, and, of course, Star Trek Adventures—which is why we had the distinct pleasure of nabbing him for an interview!
Michael: How did you get involved with working on the Star Trek Adventures game?
Keith: I reached out to publisher Chris Birch when the game was first announced to see if Modiphius needed additional writing contributions. I had a few freelancing credits at the time, and Chris passed my inquiry on to the creative team. When I got Jim Johnson’s ear, I pitched a standalone adventure that he liked, and that was my first writing for the game.
After that, he asked me to contribute some sidebars to help finish out the Alpha Quadrant sourcebook. Around this time I was starting to gain momentum (pardon me) as a freelance editor as well, and after editing some of Modiphius’s John Carter of Mars sourcebooks, Jim had me start editing for Star Trek Adventures. I’ve edited or proofread the Delta and Gamma Quadrant books, the Klingon core book, the upcoming Shackleton Expanse campaign book, and a bunch of standalone adventures.
Beyond all that editing, I’ve more recently contributed writing to the Klingon book (I wrote up some Klingon NPCs, which was great fun) and to two more unannounced upcoming books. The funny thing is, that first thing I wrote, my first adventure, hasn’t seen print yet! (We’ve got a backlog of adventures to get through the editorial pipeline.)
Well, put some lead in it, Keith. We are all dying for more standalone missions and mission briefs. How much creative freedom were you given when you were commissioned to work on the project?
It feels like I had nearly total freedom, but that’s probably because I didn’t write anything outlandish or outside the realm of Star Trek. Jim was good at giving me guidance on tweaking my adventure to fit the game better, and it didn’t take too much revision to satisfy him. The sidebars were even more open, he just gave us general guidelines and let us go. The Klingon characters were pretty straightforward as well.
What is your favorite thing about working on STA products?
The main thing is that it’s Star Trek! This is my favorite fictional world, without exception, and it’s amazing to be able to play in this sandbox in such an official way. For years I’ve written my own adventures to run for my players, so it’s great to be able to work for a larger audience and work alongside my dedicated fellow creators.
When did your passion for Star Trek first develop? What was your first exposure to Star Trek?
I had seen some original series episodes as a kid when it was first in syndication (I was born soon after the show’s cancellation), and even had some action figures and a View-Master toy with Star Trek reels, but it wasn’t until junior high that I really got the bug.
A girl I liked talked about Star Trek all the time in class, so I started reading the James Blish novelizations to better familiarize myself with the show (since this was before on-demand streaming!). We had great, nerdy discussions, and I’m thankful she got me interested in the show! Shortly after, when Star Trek 2 came along, I was REALLY hooked. That was when Star Trek seemed “real” to me.
Do you play STA on the regular? If so, what is your crew like?
I have an eclectic group, and we change games frequently. But STA is one of our main games, since my friend, Beth, is another major Star Trek fan. We are a silly, irreverent group of weirdos, so it’s sometimes hard to stick to an appropriate Star Trek mood; for example, our ship is the USS Grayskull.
But, having played in a game or two where the players were forbidden from joking around and had to take the game super-seriously, I greatly prefer our oddball style of play.
And this is not to say that we never take the game seriously. My gang gets things done and saves the galaxy on the regular. We’ve got a Xindi captain, a Betazoid first officer who is a little too comfortable with extreme interrogation measures, a half-Betazoid science officer who was raised on Vulcan, a Caitian security chief, and a plucky Trill junior conn officer.
To each their own. The game should match the players if everyone is going to have a stellar experience. What have you noticed about public reaction to the game? What about STA struck a different chord with the public do you think?
I think the fact that the game embraces all eras and all shows makes it appealing to players who are fans of the sort of niche corners of Star Trek fandom, like Enterprise and the animated series. And I think it’s helpful that the 2d20 system is easy to understand, and that it’s used by other popular games. So it can help Star Trek players find, say, John Carter, and vice versa.
Who is your favorite character in Star Trek? Why?
My choice of favorite character has changed a lot over the years (since the early 70s when I started watching TOS), but I keep coming back to Spock. I admire his self-control, his intelligence, his vast stores of knowledge, and his exotic presence. He is constantly fighting to reconcile two different realities, yet he keeps it together and excels at everything he attempts. Spock is endlessly fascinating.
What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? (TV, movies, book) Which series do you like the best?
The Next Generation is my favorite series. It’s the first one I watched as it aired live (recorded it on Betamax tapes!), and I was in my teens when it started, so it was formative for me.
I also have a special place in my heart for the original series, especially the movie era. That’s where I could really see a future like this existing, with people wearing uniforms instead of pajamas, and we saw phasers that chewed through-hull metal instead of just glowing and not leaving a mark. (That’s not intended as a dig, I still love TOS!) I’m a fan of all the other series as well, including the new wave of streaming shows.
What would our readers find you doing if it isn’t writing/playing RPGs?
I like long-distance running; I’ve run two marathons, though I won’t beat Picard’s time on Danula II. My wife and I play a lot of board games, at the moment mostly online with our friends. My son hasn’t been bit by the tabletop gaming bug, but I play a lot of video games with him, mostly on the PC. I’m also an animal lover, with two cats and two dogs.
If you were a component on a starship, what component would you be?
That’s a fun question! I think I’d be the holodeck. I like to entertain, and I encompass countless genres–though if you try to make me do it outside my comfortable boundaries, I’m likely to vanish. I also inexplicably break down from time to time.
Thanks for keeping us entertained, Keith. Keep editing and helping to pump put the quality content STA fans have come to expect!
Keith’s gaming-related website is The Adventures of Keith Garrett at https://adventuresofkeithgarrett.com.