Review of Piers Beckley’s “The Burning” Module

How did the Star Trek Adventures The Burning 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 The Burning, an action-packed and multifaceted exploration into the intricacies of First Contact by Piers Beckley for the Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game. It is available at Modiphius as a standalone module.

This module allows characters with focuses and talents related to first contact procedure, diplomacy, ship battle tactics, and engineering to shine. This module also introduces some new science concepts that will have your players talking.

COOL NEWS: This module is the second Star Trek Adventures standalone to include a mission brief that continues this adventure.

SYNOPSIS (spoiler alert)

When the player characters’ voyage of exploration brings their ship to an area of space claimed by the Kalakh Hegemony, the crew immediately comes under fire. Fortunately, their starship easily outclasses the Kalakh vessel – until they suddenly lose power and start taking heavy damage from the enemy onslaught!

Retreating, the player characters find that the power loss is due to a problem with their matter/antimatter reactor assembly, which can’t be diagnosed aboard ship. They head for nearby Starbase 14, where they find a wrecked facility, mysteries around every corridor, and a critical ethical dilemma. Can your crew put things to rights before the Kalakh arrive to finish them off?


  • Comprehensibility – 4 Tribbles. The premise was simple enough. Traveling through space. Run into a hostile and territorial species. A violent engagement ensues. Attempts to make peace and establish a positive First Contact are a big part of the mission.

    However, one thing boggled my group’s mind. SPOILER ALERT: Beckley introduces us to a nebula composed of anti-matter. Now, I am hardly the utmost science geek of our group. But a couple of my players are. So I spent quite a bit of time trying to make some psuedo-scientific sense of this anomoly. Fortunely, our crew is in a pretty wacky region of space currently. So finding a plausible excuse for how an antimatter nebula works was possible. GM Beware: You may need to do a little homework to explain how this phenomana works.
  • Originality 5 Tribbles. My players were really thrilled by the idea of sentient creatures that could exist in an antimatter nebula. (Hence, what cost a Tribble above gains it here.) They really had a good time with it. In addition, this module made for an exciting rescue operation. Watching the players plan out a rescue op was fun.

    In addition, the players in my game decided to make a tactical strike against the main protagonists, the Kalakh. This made for an amazing dogfight scene with three shuttles taking on the Kalakh ship to do a boarding action. Too cool!

  • Sci-Fi Concepts 3 Tribbles. The idea of an antimatter nebula and creatures that can exist there is the concept that stole the show in this module. Though it created a problem initially with my players as they tried to wrap their heads around it, I instructed them to not ask “IF” it could happen, but to spend their time researching “WHY” it was happening.

    That completely changed the tone of the game and allowed for some intriguing technobabble and pseudoscience.
  • Social Conflict Potential – 5 Tribbles. Even though our game took on a more violent tone leading to the death of two crew members, fifteen injured, and a destroyed Kalakh vessel, other gaming groups might find a more peaceful solution! The opportunity for Social Conflict is ripe for plucking in the main plot and the subplots involving the Musang and Cloudlings.

    I felt that the Kalakh were potrayed in the module as pretty stubborn, but that was my take on it. It led to a major ship-to-ship battle and a violent shoot out on the bridge of the Kalakh ship.
  • Adaptability – 5 Tribbles. I think this story could fit in any era and any location in the galaxy or beyond. Fortunately, there is enough space in space to place the Kalakh Hegemony on the borders of the Federation or even in new galaxies and dimensions. Another thing I like about this module is that it is the second Star Trek Adventures standalone to include a mission brief, just in case you want the Kalakh to become recurring characters. Hmm.


The Burning is one of the most action-packed (bordering on violent) standalone my group has ever played. Not saying it was not fun, but it sure had people edged up. I even had to check in with players who were getting irritated at the stubbornness of the Kalekh and remind them that not everyone cherishes peaceful resolutions like Federation members.

(To see our entire play report, see Star Trek Pioneer, Season 4, Episode 5: First Contact Day.)

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