Contributed by Stephen Near
In my previous post, I wrote about players leaving your game by having the Bridge Dropped on their characters. But it doesn’t have to be so grim. In fact, most character departures from TV don’t involve death. The character just simply leaves with the rest of the cast sometimes pointing it out and other times ignoring it altogether. A common trope for this is called being Put On A Bus. But let’s call it being Put On A Shuttle for Star Trek and see what those kinds of departures look like in Star Trek Adventures.
Put on a Shuttle
One of the strengths of STA is how it encourages players to think of the growth of their character in terms of episodic challenges. Nonetheless, there are always going to be times when a player decides they either want to ditch their character or try someone new. To look at how this dilemma can be handled in your game, I’ll focus on two founding members of the Next Generation cast: Beverly Crusher and her son, Wesley.
The esteemed Enterprise Medical Officer, Beverly Crusher, had a unique place on the ship and the series. First of all, she was a widow; her husband Jack had been Picard’s best friend on the U.S.S. Stargazer. This background tie was made more powerful because both Beverly and Jean-Luc shared an attraction for one another.
Beverly was also the first mainstream character shown as an active-duty officer and a working parent. Facilitated by the parameters of the new Galaxy-class cruiser, with many civilian families onboard, the inclusion of Beverly and her son immediately offered new storylines for the Trek universe. Come the second season, however, Beverly left the Enterprise after Gates McFadden abruptly exited the show.
From a story perspective, Crusher’s exit was handwaved by Picard who explained that she’d been assigned to Starfleet Medical. As abrupt as it may seem, the Beverly exit of reassignment makes sense from a gaming perspective.
If a player isn’t having fun with their character and wants to try something new, transferring the old character to another assignment ‘off-camera’ allows for someone new without the baggage of character death. It also leaves room for the character’s return, which was the case when Crusher returned to the Enterprise.
STA also gives players a handy way of depicting how a character changes after missing out on a whole season. Dr. Crusher might’ve gained a new Talent or Focus from her work with Starfleet Medical. More intriguingly, she could have gained a new Value or challenged and changed an existing one.
For example, one of Dr. Crusher’s Values is “My True Family and Those That Might Have Been”. Reflecting her bond to the Enterprise crew, perhaps this Value was something else in season one and was challenged upon her return in season three? The Beverly exit probably works better for players intending on a long-term or permanent hiatus from their character so if that’s the case in your game get them on the next shuttlecraft.
But some players may not want to take their characters out altogether. Maybe they’ve just got scheduling problems and want to play infrequently without relegating their main character to a supporting role. How do you handle that?
Wesley Crusher got a bad rap in the first season of TNG. Written as a scientific prodigy, and the embodiment of Roddenberry’s less militaristic Starfleet, first-season writers were often at odds with how to handle his character. That said, his inclusion as a young cast member opened doors to other iconic characters in Trek-like Jake Sisko and Nog. Indeed, Wesley became a more dynamic character after his mother left the Enterprise.
Taken under the wing of Commander Riker, Wesley’s growth during the second season is a great example of a character challenging and changing Values or Talents during a campaign. Wesley stayed with the show until the fourth season and, even after his exit, he remained an occasional guest star.
Crucially, these returns had major implications for his character development. Both “The First Duty” and “Journey’s End” are examples of an adventure that offers serious to challenges the Values of a character. In Wesley’s case, perhaps he was created with the Value “Loyal to Friends and Family”. Following the accident at Starfleet Academy, this might have changed to “First Duty to the Truth”. After reuniting with the Traveler, it could have changed again to “My Destiny Lies Elsewhere”.
For me, the way that character growth is explicitly tied to occasional guest star turns in The Wesley is tailor-made for Star Trek Adventures. It really demonstrates the strength of the system that it can so accurately emulate the storytelling style of the franchise.
With the Beverly and the Wesley, character exits can be handled in a less dramatic fashion while maintaining the flow of your campaign. Reassignment and transfers are commonplace in Starfleet thereby allowing your troupe to easily hand-wave the exit of the character.
As well, these exits also allow for the assignment of a new character in the same position, if need be. After all, Crusher’s replacement was Dr. Pulaski who instantly changed the tone of the series for the better. So, a similar replacement in your game might radically switch up the character dynamics and create a more compelling campaign that continues to boldly go.
For my next, and final post, I’ll be tackling Trexits that throw a curveball at your cast with surprising results.
Continuing Mission has done so much to support STA that Modiphius wants to give some love back, and so we are pleased to offer this discount code, CMISSION01, which is a 10% off coupon for the STA Starter Set and usable on both the Modiphius UK site and the Modiphius US site.