From STA Super Fan Tony Bass
Our group had finished the TOS era
“prologue” chunk of the Shackleton Expanse campaign and it was time to jump my players 99 years into the future, to the year 2371. Their Intrepid Class Starship, the U.S.S. Leviathan, was to set out on its maiden voyage. Our group of three, plus Gamemaster, was very excited to craft new Starfleet Officers in new roles for the 24th century. Our Trill XO player from our TOS series took the bump up to a Klingon/Betazoid Captain, our Tellarite Engineer player switched to an Andorian Security Officer, and our Vulcan Helmsman switched to a Talaxian XB Science Officer.
I also created a host of NPCs to fill out the rest of the Senior Staff aboard the ship. I created a Human CMO, a Tellarite Security Officer (to serve under the Andorian for comedic purposes), a Ferengi Engineer, and a Soong-type Android Helmsman/Navigator. My favorites among these were the female Ferengi “Kazel”, and the female Soong-type android “Coda”. I took some time before our session and wrote some scenes with both of these characters, so I could introduce them to my group in a meaningful way in Episode 1.
We set out on Leviathan’s first mission, which was “Convoy-SE119”, a mission brief from the Shackleton Expanse Campaign guide, and one of the original STA Living Campaign missions (an absolute classic, in my opinion.). The crew was to escort a convoy of cargo transports to Array 3-5, deep within the Expanse. This journey to Array 3-5 could be as long, or as short, as the Gamemaster wants it to be. This was a perfect time to add one of the scenes I had planned to use.
I say to my group “The Leviathan will arrive at Array 3-5 in about 6 hours, so any Officers that are off-duty at the moment may feel free to roam the ship and get acquainted with the crew and with each other.”. My Captain player (Ke’Kah) was IMMEDIATELY interested in getting to know the Android on board. She used the computer to find Coda, who was on the Holodeck running a “Jurassic Park” holoprogram in order to study the Human emotion of fear. In our game canon, Coda is essentially the “sister” of Data, created alongside him and with the same motivation: to become more human. Unbeknownst to the players, Coda had asked our NPC Dr. Harris what holoprogram in the database would help her to understand the emotion of fear, and he suggested “Jurassic Park’. When Ke’Kah entered the holodeck, she entered into the iconic kitchen scene.
“The doors to the holodeck hiss open, and you enter a large dark kitchen. Everything in here, the floors, the chrome counters, the pots and pans hanging from the ceiling, has been polished to perfection. The room is silent, other than a labored panting, coming from behind one of the counters. As you walk around to the other side of the counter, you see Lieutenant Coda squatted behind it, along with a young boy and girl, covered in mud and filth, a stark contrast from the immaculate kitchen. (At this point, one of my players exclaimed ‘IT’S JURASSIC PARK. Proud GM moment.) The heavy panting is coming from Lieutenant Coda.
She is looking straight ahead, breathing heavily and in a steady rhythm. The two children are staring at Coda with a look of bewilderment and confusion. As they see you come around the children’s attention turns to you, and upon seeing you, let out a shrill scream (these children just saw a Klingon after all). Coda immediately stops her heavy breathing and turns to the children to shush them. Coda then turns around to you and shushes you as well. Just then, a velociraptor bursts through the swinging door that leads to the diner. It screeches upon seeing
you, and leaps toward you, mouth wide.”
“‘Computer, freeze program.’, says Coda. The velociraptor freezes in midair, inches
away from you. ‘Hello, Captain. I apologize for shushing you. It only seemed the appropriate
response given the circumstances of the program. I run these holoprograms in an attempt to
emulate human emotions in an appropriate setting. I can sometimes get lost in my character. I
am running the Jurassic Park holoprogram in an attempt to understand the emotion of fear. It is
an emotion that has led humanity into many conflicts, and yet they have still yet to completely
overcome it. Is fear somehow linked to the awareness of mortality? The inevitability of death,
and the uncertainty of how or when it will occur? As I am immortal, I am unable to process this.
How is this emotion useful?”
Wow. What a heavy question to ask your player Captain on a crew’s maiden voyage. But to me these heavy questions, and how diversely people can answer them, are the heart and soul of Trek. I was eager to hear Ke’Kah’s answer.
She went on to explain to Coda that, while she herself is not human, she is half Betazoid, and has a deep understanding of “human” emotions. She also explained that these emotions are not limited to humans, but that many species exhibit these emotions in one form or another. She said fear can be a dangerous emotion that can lead someone into paranoia and
irrational thinking, but it can also be a useful tool for survival (so very Klingon, I loved it). Without
fear, after all, how are we to sense the coming of danger? To which Coda replied “Sensor
readings, Captain.”, which got a good TOS style group-laugh, and I ended the scene with Coda
and Ke’Kah returning to the bridge to start the mission.
I say all of this to point out one of the things I love most about Star Trek Adventures,
which is that you have the opportunity (if you desire) to have some really deep conversations
with your group, and hold discussions that wouldn’t necessarily fit or be welcomed into other
RPGs. Obviously, it is important to discuss any uncomfortable topics with your group
beforehand, but I know my group personally, and I know that they WANT to confront
uncomfortable topics sometimes, because that’s what Starfleet Officers face almost daily.
I’m glad I have a group that is willing to go all-in on this Star Trek campaign (my first time
GMing EVER, btw!), and are willing to study the human condition through the lens of alien
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