Every Friday at 4:00 PM PT, a talented crew roleplays their way through the galaxy to fulfill a mission: to boldly go where no one has gone before. Follow the adventures of the USS Sally Ride on Shield of Tomorrow on Twitch and Alpha.
The best part of summer is on its way. Sure, sunlight and warm weather is nice, but we’re talking summer convention season, where geeks converge at Gen Con, Origins and dozens of other tabletop conventions to play games with new fans. It’s a golden opportunity for fans of Shield of Tomorrow to take command of the GM chair and run an adventure or two for fellow fans of the show using Star Trek Adventures. We’ve included some tips to make things easier for those who have never run this excellent game or any tabletop roleplaying game for that matter.
Use Pre-Generated Characters You Know
Explaining the dense relationships of a Starfleet crew on top of explaining how the rules work at the top of a demo slot can throw a lot of information at a new player. Make it easier by setting a game on a ship that everybody at the table is likely to know: the Enterprise! Modiphius has made it easy to do this by releasing official write-ups for both The Original Series and The Next Generation crews. Players will know how these characters are supposed to act and they can help anyone unfamiliar with the crew at the table to guide their portrayal too. Fans have been watching these characters for decades. They will have a blast making decisions in their shoes.
Show Off What You Love
There are several adventures available to use either in official books or as part of the Star Trek Adventures Living Campaign. GMs who want to write their own episodes to use should focus on the elements of the rules that really excite them. If they love a big starship battle, they should have a scene where that’s the focus. If they love the conflict rules around social scenes like a negotiation, put one in the adventure. The joy of using the part of the rules the GM loves is often infectious and makes the game feel easier to run for the GM.
Keep An Eye On The Clock
It can be hard to judge just how long a game can run. Demo slots vary from convention to convention, but many GMs forget to add in time to explain the rules and that the first few times the dice hit the table, things will go slowly as new players catch on.
It’s best to plan out three basic scenes in a three-act structure. Setting up the basic situation the crew is there to solve in Act I, revealing a twist or complication in Act II that makes the situation more difficult, and resolving the situation in Act III with whatever plan the crew puts together. It’s also okay to skip past some planned scenes or encounters if time is running low. Telling a story from beginning to end is far more satisfying than ending in a cliffhanger that will not likely ever be resolved.
Send Them Home Happy
The purpose of a demo game is to get people excited about the game and get them to think about picking it up. GMs should challenge their players, of course, but they could also be mindful of creating an experience where everyone has fun. Running a Kobayashi Maru where everyone ends up dead in the end isn’t how Star Trek usually ends and might leave a bad taste in player’s mouths. Err on the side of going easy on them and reward crazy plans over telling players no by citing a technical manual. Main characters break rules all the time in the shows, and an epic story is usually far more interesting than fidelity to Memory Alpha.
Where are you playing Star Trek Adventures? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to tune into our Star Trek RPG show, Shield of Tomorrow on Geek & Sundry Twitch and Alpha every Friday starting at 4 PM PT, followed by our aftershow on Alpha, Behind The Shield, where the crew discusses the episode and other Star Trek topics.
Want more Star Trek goodness?
- Try out the official browser-based character creator!
- Check out these Star Trek comics for adventure ideas.
- Look back at the original Star Trek tabletop RPGs.
Images Credits: Modiphius, CBS
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is here. You can watch him livestream RPGs here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.