Tribute to Jeffrey Cook—How Star Trek Adventures Helps a Friend Power Through Loss

Submitted by Gavin Downing

I picked it up mostly on a whim.

I’ve always loved Star Trek.  I grew up on TOS and the movies, and I was just about Wesley’s age as TNG was coming out.  I drifted away from it during DS9 and some of the later series, But Trek, especially TOS and TNG, always held a place in my heart.  Despite that, and despite being a tabletop RPGer since the age of 6, I never got into any of the various Trek RPGs that came out over the decades. 

My wife is also a gamer, and also big into Trek (especially Tasha Yar), but while we’d looked at some of the sourcebooks over the years, we’d never actually sat down to play a game.

The other day, about a month ago, I was in my FLGS, and I was looking at the new Star Trek Adventures.  And it looked… interesting.  Promising.  Then I noticed it mentioned something about Narenda, and, with my wife big on Tasha Yar, I knew that was something she’d want to see.  I grabbed the book, almost as much for me as I got it for her.  I flipped through the book and thought the character creation system was particularly compelling.

It was the last few days of summer break. I’m a middle school teacher-librarian, and for the past 18 months, I’d been working at home, But that would change in just a few days.  I reached out to my best friend, Jeff, who I knew also loved Trek. 

“Check this out,” I told him. 

“This looks really interesting,” he agreed, and we sat down to make a character together, a young security officer.

Two days later, Jeff died unexpectedly.

Author Jeffrey Cook

I was absolutely gutted. 

He’d been one of my closest friends for about 25 years, a central player in almost every game I ran, and I was a central player in most of the games he ran.  Jeff was a storyteller extraordinaire, and he was a master at helping other characters find a place and time to shine, too.  He was the breath and heart and soul of so many games over the years.

And the next day, I was returning to work, preparing the library for students, in the midst of a global pandemic. It was stressful. I needed that escape of a good RPG. But I couldn’t get one.  Because we had several games running, but for almost every game I was in, everything had to pause. 

Sessions were not for gaming; they were for us to figure out what we’re doing next.  Should this game continue?  If so, what form would it take?  What are we going to do about this sudden void in the group?  So instead of getting that escape, it was an emotional dissection of the situation. 

Absolutely needed, but difficult, and often painful.

“Appreciate the people you have in your life while you have them.”

But there was the Star Trek Adventures book.  And the character creation was different, providing a sort of petit four of roleplaying, as you take your character through their life.  So one by one, I helped the other players make characters, not to run a game, but just to have something to do that was at least a little game-related.  But sure enough, people wanted to do something with their character.  And different people were taking different sorts of roles.

So, a chronicle formed. And we had our first session last Friday night.  And we had a blast, and we all loved it and are looking forward to more.

There’s a big part of me that knows Jeff would have loved this game, and he would have added so much to the campaign.  But he also knew how important stories are.  And he wouldn’t have ever wanted us to stop telling them.

Thanks, Jeff.  You have been, and always will be, my friend.

And for the rest of those reading, let this be a reminder that life is short, and we never know how much time we have left.  Appreciate the people in your life while you have them. 

Jeff’s stories weren’t limited to RPGs; he was also a very talented writer.  If you’d like to see some of his work, it can be found here:

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