Discovery Campaign Guide Review

The latest sourcebook for Star Trek Adventures brings the elements of Star Trek: Discovery into the official game. Specifically it covers the first two seasons (if you’ve seen the show you know why) and brings in materials that can easily translate into your original series era game or really any time. Let’s dive in and see what’s inside!

Setting Information

The campaign guide starts with a discussion of the State of the Galaxy in 2256-2258, the timeline for the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. It starts off, though, describing first contact between Earth and the Klingons as seen in the pilot of Star Trek: Enterprise. It then moves through the remainder of the 22nd century, including the Earth- and into the beginning of the 23rd century as the characters of Discovery enter the scene, including a young Michael Burnham arriving on Vulcan and Saru leaving Kaminar. This leads to the dramatic events of the Federation-Klingon War as seen in Star Trek: Discovery’s first season and there is information on the Terran Empire from this time as well. Finally, the Post-War period and the Red Angel are discussed in brief.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Outside of the Federation, the divided and directionless Klingon Empire is discussed in detail. As shown in Star Trek: Discovery, this is an Empire that has been hit by blow after blow and is struggling with its identity, not to mention a power vacuum that is preventing a united Klingon identity from taking charge. This changes, of course, with the call to arms by T’kuvma in the pilot episode of Discovery and the unification of the Klingon Great Houses in a common purpose. One interesting bit of lore that I haven’t seen before ties the events of Star Trek: Discovery to the Hur’q, the ancient alien oppressors of the Klingons. There has been a lot of speculation about the aesthetics of the various Klingon ships in Star Trek: Discovery and this book offers an explanation that a fair number are abandoned Hur’q vessels that were recovered in deep space and reverse engineered for the empire.

A number of Federation colonies get short write-ups including Corvan II and Pragine 63, with some hooks for including these in storylines. On the Klingon side are Great Houses, including some exiled Houses, and a few worlds including Qo’noS and Boreth. After this there’s also a section on the activities of the Romulan Star Empire which covers the aftermath of the Earth-Romulan War and their machinations with the Klingons. Mostly, though, this encourages me that there might be a Romulan campaign book in the future… Other factions get shorter sections of their current events including the Orion Syndicate, the Vulcan logic extremists, the Cardassian Union, the Tholians, and the Xaheans. Plenty to work with!

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Player Options

To go along with all this new information and this dramatic, historical moment in the galaxy there are some awesome New Lifepath Options. Five new species are presented: Barzans, Kelpiens, Osnullus, Xaheans, and Saurians. Another “species” option is Cybernetically Enhanced individuals like Lieutenant Detmer, folks with extensive replacements such as might be needed following the Federation-Klingon War. The Talents for Cybernetically Enhanced characters are neat but it’s really the expansion of mechanics that makes this option really interesting. Obviously this isn’t a species but it functions as one using the Mixed-Heritage rules: you pick another species and then Cybernetically Enhanced as a second species (either can be the “main” one) to make a enhanced Saurian or an enhanced Vulcan. Love it.

The next chapter is all about Science and Technology as seen in Discovery including the Mycelial Network, time suits, the Sphere, the duotronic developments that led to the nascent Control AI, and advancements in cybernetics and full-body prostheses (as seen with Commander Airiam). New transporter developments and the technological advancements of the Ba’ul are also briefly discussed. Back at the end of the lifepath options, though, there are rules for the Klingon choH’a’, genetically remade infiltrators for the Empire like Arne Darvin and Ash Tyler. This full-page spread is very helpful in making this work but also establishes a broader context for the procedure and how this procedure spread elsewhere in the galaxy.

Lastly, Gear and Weapons provides some mechanics and information on various items seen on the show. Section 31 equipment including blade mines and projection hoods (like Georgiou used on Qo’noS), Starfleet equipment including DOT-7s (with a new starship Talent) and various EV suits, Kelpien Vahar’ai daggers, and assorted others are all available.

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Starships and Vessels

More big options come with the chapters on new spaceframes where many new options are seen. Federation Starships changed dramatically after the Earth-Romulan War to unify Starfleet ships as part of Operation Next Step. This book includes spaceframe rules for the Walker-class multirole explorer, Shepard-class light cruiser, Magee-class science vessel, Cardenas-class fast cruiser, Hoover-class destroyer, Malachowski-class destroyer escort, Engle-class fast response, Nimitz-class command cruiser, Hiawatha-class medical frigate, and (of course) the Crossfield-class science cruiser. There are also station stats for K-class border outposts and Strongpoint-class fleet logistical strongpoints like the one that housed Control.

There are also two new Mission Profiles: Battlecruiser for a very combat-focused ship and Reserve Fleet for older vessels upgraded for support roles. The book also has an Independent Phaser Supply Talent (first seen in the Command Division Sourcebook) and Specialized Crew (actually a bit of a drawback which limits the use of Crew Support to particular divisions, only seen as inherent Talents).

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

The Klingon Starships section also gives more spaceframe options, again portrayed as refurbished Hur’q technology particular to the Houses that recovered them. These include the mid-23rd century Bird-of-Prey, Qugh-class destroyer, the DaSpu’-class escort of House Balar, the Qoj-class dreadnought, the Batlh-class escort of House D’Ghor, the Chargh-class battlecruiser which used stolen Federation duotronics and was further developed by the up-and-coming House K’t’inga, the dramatic Na’Qjej-class cleave ship, the rebellion-crushing ‘Etlh-class assault ship (the ones from the memorably-named “The Butcher Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry”), the stealth-equipped BortaS bIr-class battlecruiser, the innovative Sech-class fast frigate, and T’Kuvma’s own Sarcophagus Ship of the Dead. There are two Klingon starship Talents: Stealth Systems (the reverse-engineered Hur’q tech predating cloaking) and Monopole Warp Field (faster warp acceleration to throw off pursuers).

Lastly is a collect of Other Starships seen in Star Trek: Discovery. Section 31 has several ready to go including the stealth ships, the strike cruiser (divided into the Nimrod class of Starfleet Intelligence and the Hou Yi class that Section 31 made), Control’s Shiva-class command ships, and the uncrewed Control drone fighters (seen in “Such Sweet Sorrow”). There are also stats for the Ba’ul fighters, the I.S.S. Charon, as well as some guidelines for making Mirror Universe versions of existing spaceframes. Most of this small sidebar is actually dedicated to making Mirror Universe crews feel different and I love them.

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Gamemastering

There are quite a few pieces of excellent advice for Gamemasters in this era, including styles of play for both the Federation and Klingon crews which could really be extended to other eras easily. There are also some independent styles of play, building off what we first got in the Player’s Guide but also establishing the wider universe seen in figures like Harry Mudd or Queen Po of Xahea. I thought that the role of story arcs (a definite feature of modern Star Trek shows but also part of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise) were very helpful and useful.

There are also a dozen Mission Briefs featuring plot points from Star Trek: Discovery in all its themes. Some of these Mission Briefs focus understandably on the Federation-Klingon War such as Triumvirate Games (Olympics-style games during the war), Contaminant (attempting Prime Directive contact in wartime), Tardigrade Trip (searching out tardigrades “for some classified reason”), and Starbase Naught (a Klingon mission storming a Federation starbase), or else on post-war drama like Forming Glory (relocating refugees) or The Basest Bones (a Klingon celebration of a united Empire).

Other Mission Briefs focus on other aspects of the setting at the time such as What Follows (Logic Extremist terrorism), Gormagander Migration (self-evident), Mirrored Aspirations (confronting your Mirror doppelgangers), Muddied Waters (a border crisis with a surprise antagonist), Arena of Relics (a Klingon mission recovering a relic for a family wedding), or Worthy Prey (Klingons stumbling on an automated trap).

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Lastly, there are Allies and Adversaries for Gamemasters in need including Vice Admiral Katrina Cornwell, Ambassador Sarek, Amanda Grayson, the Section 31 commander Leland, stats for people replaced as avatars of Control, the resourceful Dr. Gabrielle Burnham, the prophet T’Kuvma, General Kol, the monk Tenavik, the con artist Harcourt Fenton Mudd (and his devious android duplicates), Queen Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po, and the Kelpien priestess Siranna. There are also typical members of some iconic species such as the Ba’ul the Pahvans, and stats for Gormaganders and Tardigrades.

Mini-Campaign

The book ends with an awesome mini-campaign called Yet, Wonders in the Jaws of Defeat with three linked missions meant for Federation crews (though possible for non-Starfleet crews too). I can’t talk about very much without risking spoilers for potential players in this mini-campaign but I’ll try and give a little context so you know what you might be getting into. In the first mission, A Bridge to Everywhere, the Player Characters are trying to find a solution for the Federation after the U.S.S. Discovery and its mysterious drive disappear. They are searching for solutions but stumble on something greater, which ties in about a month later in the second mission, Home and Hearth, when Klingon forces are threatening the core of Federation space. Finally, in the last mission of One Step Beyond the plot comes full circle as the Player Characters test out a new, experimental drive. No surprise, things get dicey.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Conclusion

This book covers everything you would want from Star Trek: Discovery, both the events and the themes. Spaceframes, NPCs, equipment, campaign styles, mechanical adjustments… There’s so much packed in here. I also loved all the interstitial information in the book, filling in some of the things that are not established directly onscreen because they don’t impact the Discovery story as much. Connecting the war to the Romulan Empire we know comes later, establishing the broader events of the conflict while the Discovery has disappeared, and detailing the complicated religious and political situation in the Klingon Empire both during the events of Star Trek: Discovery’s first two seasons and after are all additions to the Star Trek universe that I think are full of potential.

I highly recommend this book to anyone playing in the original era, as well as anyone who wants to connect their game in another era back to some of the things introduced by Star Trek: Discovery. It’s also great to see that the Star Trek Adventures team is still knocking it out of the park with these sourcebooks so we can keep expecting to see amazing work from them.

3 comments

  1. my biggest issue with these books was that it was too focused on the show as opposed to the era and thus I felt it felt a little…. small, at times

    1. I can see that. I think society in the era would be pretty focused on the war (like stories set in the 1940s) so it makes sense that’s the focus. If you want to tell another type of story at this time there’s more legwork to do.

      There is a lot on other parts of the galaxy, though, showing stuff that is way beyond what’s onscreen. Plus Strange New Worlds is currently providing some extra context.

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