Thursday, January 26, 2017

The RPG Character Library: Star Trek: The Next Generation (Last Unicorn Games)

As previously mentioned, I have multiple different versions of Star Trek roleplaying games. The one I'm covering in this installment of ye blog is the one produced by Last Unicorn Games. It is specifically set in the era of The Next Generation (it's right there in the title!), with show-appropriate species to choose from and whatnot.

Of the three Star Trek systems that I have, I liked this one the best. That's not to say it was easy--by no means, no--but in comparison, it turned out to be significantly less work than FASA's game and...I guess differently convoluted than the one I'll be reviewing next time. I will say that it covers everything that you would need to make a Starfleet character, and even has some hints on how to make a non-Starfleet character--if you want to make an ambassador, or merchant, or something.

It starts out simple enough: Pick a species template. Add a professional overlay. These snap together in a satisfying way with stats and skills already filled out.

It gets a bit more complicated when we move on to backgrounds. This is a life path system where you decide how your character grew up, where they studied, who they know, and so on. You get a different number of points to spend on each step of your background, and you may either use these points to pick and choose skill bonuses, advantages, and disadvantages. Or, if you're lazy, like I am, you can use your points to buy one of the pre-built packages. This is actually much faster, less fiddly, and still allows you to create an interesting character. I'd imagine I'd use the other method once I was familiar enough with the system to know how everything works.

And that's...pretty much it. Much less hideous when compared to the FASA system, though it does have rather large bits of kludge stuck to it. Do you want to see the biggest one? Okay! Here it is.

It is possible for you to get the same skill from two (or more) different sources during character creation. There is a half-page table that explains that this is something to be expected, that it's normal, and that you don't need to see a doctor, probably. It also tells you how to resolve it.

  • If both sources provide the same skill with different specializations, I know two specializations. So I'd get History (Tellar) 1 (2) and (Federation) (2).
  • If both sources provide the same skill with different specializations at different levels, I take the higher skill and know two specializations.
  • If both sources provide the same skill with the same specialization at the same level, I add one point to either the skill or the specialization.
  • If both sources provide the same skill with the same specialization at different levels, I take the higher skill level, then add one point to either my skill level or my specialization.
  • Skills without specializations (such as Dodge), simply add together.
For those following along, the skill number (what my skill currently is) is the first number. My specialization is in the parentheses. I'm still not 100% sure how that works, since I read the character creation rules and not the "how to do things" rules. That said, it only took me about 40 minutes to make a character that might a) be correct and b) be ready to play.

I find it interesting which species make it into which Star Trek games. This one, being set in the Next Gen era, allows Andorians, Betazoids, Bolians, Centaurans, Humans, Tellarites, and Vulcans. I guess, since Worf was the only Starfleet Klingon in canon in this era, I can't play a Klingon.

Don't worry, though. I'm going to scratch that time!

Lieutenant Bashlan Cov, Tellarite Engineer

Fitness 3 (6)
Strength +0
Vitality +1
Coordination 2 (5)
Dexterity +0
1 in Skill
Reaction +1
Intellect 3 (5)
Logic +0
Perception +0
Presence 2 (5)
Empathy -1
Wound Levels
Willpower +0
Psi 0 (5)
Focus +0

Range +0

Advantages: Alertness +2, Commendation +2 (Famous Incident), Infrared Vision +2, Promotion to Lieutenant +3
Disadvantages: Argumentative -1, Intolerant of Poor Maintenance Procedures -1, Slow Healing -2, Vengeful (Frigging Cardassians) -1

Early Life: Failed Colony
Academy Life: Advanced Research Engineering
Tour of Duty: Hostile Frontier Defense Mission

Athletics (Parrises Squares) 1 (2)
Dodge 2
Computer (Modeling) 1 (2)
Culture (Tellarite) 2 (3)
Energy Weapon (Phaser) 1 (2)
Engineering, Propulsion (Impulse) 2 (3), (Warp Drive) (3) (Ion) (3)
Engineering, Systems (Environmental) 2 (3), (Transporter/Replication) (3)
Engineering, Material (Mechanical) 1 (2) (Starship Design) (2)
Material Engineering (Starship Design) 1 (2)
History (Federation) 1 (2) (Tellarite) 1 (2)
Language (Federation Standard) 1 (2), Tellarite (2)
Law (Starfleet Regs) 1 (2)
Persuasion (Debate) 2 (3)
Personal Equipment (Communicator) 1 (2)
Science, Physical (Computer) 1 (2)
Planetside Survival (Arctic) 1 (2) (Mountain) (2)
Shipboard Systems (Envi) 2 (3) (Transporter) (3) (Tactical) (3) Sensors (3)
Starship Tactics (Cardassian) 1 (2)
Vehicle Operations (Shuttlecraft) 1 (2) Ground Vehicles (2)
World Knowledge (Tellar) 1 (2)


  1. This looks way less hideous than the FASA one--- but what the hell is an Inaction Save back there in FASA? I didn't notice it before.

    1. It actually took me a bit to find this. The section of the rule book that tells you how to calculate your Inaction Save just says this:

      "A character's INACT SAVE is 20. This number will not change for most characters; in rare cases when a character's END score changes significantly, this will change also."

      Not terribly helpful.

      20 pages later, there's a description of what it does. In essence, if my MAX END ever drops below my INACT SAVE, I'm badly injured. If I try to do anything, I have to roll under my INACT SAVE to see if I'm physically capable of taking the action. Depending on the action, I may need to make a subsequent roll to see if I've given myself further injuries.

      Also, if my CURR OP END drops below my INACT SAVE, I'm exhausted. Same deal as above, except if I fail the roll, I just fall unconscious.

      And yes, this system is many times less painful. I was actually looking forward to playing the game as opposed to just tossing it and my character into an atom smasher.