Book Review: Star Trek Adventures: The Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook

Star Trek Adventures:  The Roleplaying Game:  Core Rulebook, by various authors

If you have read a lot of core rulebooks for various roleplaying games as I have, this book will be very familiar to you.  As I said, it was a very familiar one to me.  This particular game was organized in order to encourage people to play tabletop roleplaying games based on the Star Trek universe during various periods, and this book seeks to encourage the reader to engage in such games.  Admittedly, compared to some core rulebooks, this one benefits from having a lot of material out there already but the book itself is not particularly interesting or entertaining compared to others of its kind.  This is somewhat regrettable, because compared to many intellectual properties Star Trek has a lot to offer as far as gameplay is concerned.  Some readers may have written their own episodes or come up with their own stories about the universe in which Star Trek is a part and that sort of creative and imaginative effort will help one to better understand and appreciate this game, although admittedly the authors seem to have leaned on the general appeal of the series themselves and not done a lot of work to make the specific book as entertaining and enjoyable as it could have been, and that is somewhat regrettable, sadly.

This book is a long one at more than 350 pages and it is divided into twelve chapters.  The first chapter introduces the game and the Star Trek universe (1).  After that the author discusses the history of the United Federation of Planets, which it presumes the players will be a part of (2), and also discusses the mission and purpose as well as the infrastructure and duties of the game (3).  After that the author discusses basic operations (4) and reporting for duty (5), including the aspects of talents and character creation.  The author discusses the final frontier (6), looking at new worlds, alien encounters, and scientific discoveries and how they affect gameplay.  There is a chapter about social conflict and combat (7) as well as a discussion of the technology and equipment that can be found in the game based on what timeline one chooses to be in (8).  There is a focus on starships, bases, colonies, and rules as well as alien vessels (9) and a discussion of the tasks involved with gamemastering as well (10).  Finally, the book ends with a look at aliens and adversaries (11), a sample rescue mission at Xerxes for readers to follow (12) and then credits and an index.

I could see myself playing this game, and that is enough to give the book some praise, at least.  In reading the book I thought of what it would be like, for example, to be on a supply run to a particular place and to find some notable artifacts that in turn led to a tense diplomatic encounter with another government that allowed for some high-stakes action without violence being involved.  This game, though, appears to short-change that sort of effort given that it privileges a lot of fighting efforts and does not appear to want to think through what a campaign would be like in a more mundane world.  As someone who thinks of logistics as being one of the more fundamental and frequently enjoyable aspects of space travel, and certainly among the most important to the survival of the universe and its people as a whole, I tend to think that it gifts too much of a short shift in many games, which privilege tactics and diplomacy to a lesser extent in particular at the expense of strategy and especially logistics.  Still, at least this game universe allows for the creativity of the people playing and serving as gamemaster and that is perhaps enough to overcome some of the flaws in the approach of the book’s authors.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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