Super Fan Jim McClain Presents Star Trek: Challenger

I’m 58 years old, a retired teacher, and I’m married with one daughter who is a high school senior. I watched Star Trek in its original run in the 60s as a toddler but really got into it in the 1970s when it was in syndication. I was in elementary school, and the animated show debuted when I was in third grade. Perfect timing!

I ran the FASA Star Trek RPG in the 80s, set in the TOS era because that’s all we had, and then I ran a diceless RPG campaign in the 90s, sending a Galaxy-class ship called Challenger into the Delta Quadrant to gather intelligence on The Borg. It was crewed by a task force from the Alpha Quadrant, including the Federation’s adversaries. It was like Babylon Five on a starship.

I’ve been doing this for a while.

Make sure to check out the Welcome Aboard piece, s a cinematic way to establish the setting and one of the parameters (NPC captain) of the game.

Now that I’m retired, I have a lot of time on my hands. I spend my days substitute teaching, which really required little attention on my part. I stick to high school, where students always have projects to work on. One day, I ran across the starship designs of Bill Krause. I started following him on Twitter and Instagram, and eventually asked if he did commission work. I thought it would be cool to have my very own starship. He responded and we put our heads together using various previously published designs and that’s where Challenger came from. When he sent me the completed designs, they reminded me a lot of how the Enterprise came out in the animated series. And that got me thinking.

At first, I didn’t know how or if I was going to use Challenger for anything except decoration. Then I started thinking about writing a little fanfic. I made up a captain and drew a sketch of him, animated style. I placed him and the ship between TOS and TMP and modified the uniform to look like a transition between the two. Then I just started writing. When I found the Modiphius game, it came at just the right time. Since I had recently retired, I had time to run games again. I was intrigued and bought the tricorder edition. The character creation for my fictional captain fell together naturally. It felt like my backstory for him was built for the game!

When I wanted to do some interiors to support the Roll20 interface that my friends and I had been using for a while, Bill Krause recommended Craig Shoosmith (Tekknonerd from Twitter). He’d been doing STA game interiors for people for a while, and his work appears in Utopia Planitia. I asked for a bridge that would appear like a transition between TOS and TMP. I was so pleased with his work on the Challenger bridge, I asked him to do one set each month, as I received my monthly “fun money” from my pension check. So, Engineering, Sick Bay, the Conference Room, and the Transporter Room were monthly commissions as I prepared the game. 

After one abortive attempt at running for the guys I’ve known for 30 years, I joined ‘Nathan Smith’s game to get a better feel for how the 2D20 system was supposed to work as a player. I’ve since banded five players together that I’ve either never played with (or seldom played with) to give it another go. We’re using Discord to run our Session Zero, and I wrote the Welcome Aboard piece as a cinematic way to establish the setting and one of the parameters (NPC captain) of the game. I used some of the former players’ character art that I did to establish a couple of supporting characters. I also have overhead maps, but I’ll save those for another day.

TM & © 2023 CBS Studios Inc. © 2023 Paramount Pictures Corp. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.