Posted in Adventures, GM Prep, Role-playing Sessions, Star Trek Adventures

Unintended Side Effects: First Attempt at a Star Trek Adventures Adventure

A few people in my gaming group or huge Star Trek fans, my wife included, so with our Achtung! Cthulhu game wrapping up, they tasked me with running Modiphius’ new Star Trek Adventures.  Our group had playtested the system and liked it a lot.  To be honest I don’t think the rules mattered that much; any excuse for my players to act like they were in Star Fleet was enough.   Three seconds into the sessions and it was already like “Yes Captain” and “set phasers to stun.”  But alas this blog post isn’t actually about the game itself but my attempt at creating an adventure for it.  You see I while the available adventures are quite good I had a few of my own ideas.  What follows was the mission I used for the Maiden Voyage of the USS Schrödinger.

“Unintended Side Effects”

The Setup:

The new colony on Fenris IV hasn’t checked in in 10 months.  They never asked for their usual 6 months resupply.  Head out there and conduct a wellness check on the colony, render what aid you can.

(if you are someone playing in a Star Trek Adventures game you may want to stop reading this blog now, but instead, share a link to this blog with your GM so they can mine my adventure for ideas that they may want to use in their future adventures)

What has happened:

Six months ago an alien lifeform known as the Record Keeper crashed into the planet near the colony by accident.  It was injured by another race in a nearby system.  It tried to land on Fenris IV when it detected power and an advanced civilization.  It had trouble entering the atmosphere and crashed.

The being soon created an avatar for itself and observed the populous.  They caught glimpses of it and thought it was a monster.  The Record Keeper started creating a neural field around the colony so that he can penetrate their brain waves and make them think he was one of them.  Something he has done on hundreds of worlds.  Soon, however, the populous of the colony started getting sick.

The Record Keeper discovered that its own blood the runoff from the crash was poisoning the water and killing all in the area.  Unable to halt his lifeblood from flowing into the water and unable to move his vessel the Record Keeper did the only thing he knew.  He created synthetic vessels for the biological lifeforms.  He infiltrated the colony as a doctor and cured the sick by placing their heads inside a synthetic body.  Thus preserving their life.  The neural field, of course, made it so no one was the wiser.   Over the next 4 months, most of the colony was replaced.  However, supplies are scarce so the synthetic bodies were only what the Record Keeper had on hand or was able to replicate.

The Record Keeper

Is an anthropologist. It records species culture and knowledge and takes it back to its homeworld (The Core) every millennium.  It was on its way back when it got attacked.   It is dying it knows that and has resigned itself that fate.  In fact, it has cut off the colony’s communication with the outside universe in order to make sure no others get harmed unintentionally.   However, if a way out does present itself (like a starship with enough computer power to hold itself and all its knowledge) it will revert back to its original mission and do whatever it takes (without harming others) to get its knowledge back to The Core.

So that is the basis for the situation.  Here are my bullet points for prep:

Mission Briefing

  • Colony on Fenris IV hasn’t checked in 10 months
  • They never asked for their usual 6-month resupply
  • Please Deliver the usual supplies to the colony and do a wellness check on them

Initial Scans of Planet

  • A lot of life forms present on the planet.
  • A lot fewer lifeforms per area inside the colony area
  • Only 2 Human Lifeforms present


  • Flora around the area is wilting no animal noises
  • Small metal towers – non-federation standard around area
  • Entering area Requires a Daring + Command Check difficulty 2

Raving Lunatic (seen outside of town)- Kabel Belleros  18 years old.

  • “The forest Monster has infiltrated the community”
  • Claims they have all been taken over
  • Flash in the sky 6 months ago.  The earth shook.
  • “Don’t go! It will change you too.”
  • “My own mother’s a thing now” “It’s not her I swear it. It’s not her.”
  • Insight + Command to calm him down. (people started getting sick. But then the Doctor showed up.  And the sick got well overnight)

Hexiped Attack

  • Dog size feathered hexapeds growl at the group. They look gaunt and hungry, feathers wet smelly and carnivorous.
  • Fear and hunger dominate thoughts.
  • Xenobiology – they are sick desperate a significant show of aggression may scare them off.

The Colony

  • The crops are all wilted or dead.  The tree bark looks slimy and is falling off. (If failed test Daring Command upon entering everything looks great. Healthy plants a field full of crops normal happy people)
  • The Structures are all intact and you see people moving about.
  • People harvesting fields with dead crops
  • Insight + Security 1 (IF PASSED Daring Check) – the people have an odd shape they aren’t human.

The Colonist

  • Look like bulky cobbled together robots to those that passed the Daring + Command Check Otherwise they appear perfectly normal.
  • Colonists have metallic facsimiles of faces some have a bit of articulation while some do not.
  • They are all wearing poncho like clothing covering their bulk.
  • They are friendly to the crew.  Thanking them for checking up on them but no need.  They are self-sufficient now.  Though they should see if the doctor has need of medicine.  The doctor is such a great guy saved many of the colony members who got sick.
  • Doctor out collecting herbs and medicine’s should be back before nightfall.

Meanwhile on Ship

  • Once the time for gossip to spread has occurred.   Normal shipboard functions stop working correctly (replicators, holodeck transporters)
  • Reason + (Security or Engineering)
  • Ships computer becomes overwhelmed with incoming data.
  • Something is writing itself into the computers AI.
  • Data coming from the planet.
  • Data coming in through sensor arrays
  • Sensors cutoffs inoperable.
  • This overflow of incoming data makes communication with the away team rather difficult.  Checks required.

The Doctor

  • Herbert Hemingway (Record Keeper)
  • No thoughts you can read.
  • Looks like a well-designed robot. Arms legs notable socket in the back of the head.
  • Non-violent
  • Tries to bluff but if confronted admits truth… first 3 bullet points below

The Truth

  • The Hausairans* attacked him when he was leaving the system. Managed to get to warp. But was injured. It Located a power supply on Fenris IV but entry into the atmosphere was unstable. Crashed nearby.  Tried to observe colony before approach. Locals who saw him thought he was a monster.  Then he realized the waste leaking from the crash site was making the land and the people sick. He did what he had to do to save the souls of intelligent biological life.
  • Borrowed much of synthetic body design from the Botrex* design.
  • Waste killing people is his blood. He is the ship that crashed
  • He is uploading himself to the ship in order to commandeer it.  He must return his knowledge to The Core.
  • Plans on putting crew in suspended animation for the journey
  • Extended task to retain control of ship work 5 magnitude 3 resistance 1. (2 threat to increase resistance) (2 threat to release knockout gas on ship)

*The Hausairans and the Botrex are two alien races I intend to introduce in future voyages.


This idea; A colony replaced by a benevolent alien who accidentally was killing them, was originally the plot of a Numenera adventure I was working on (I still may write that up for a future CypherCaster) but the plot seemed to fit a Trek adventure quite well as well.  What was cool about this adventure is I didn’t have to write up an outcome.  I just had to present the problem.  I had no idea what the players would do.

So what did my player end up doing?  Well with the away team set to blow up their shuttle in order to destroy the rest of the Record Keepers body, and the Record Keeper close to taking over the USS Schrödinger, the Captain was able to convince it to stand down by offering to mind meld with It. Yes, the Vulcan Captain went all Star Trek 2/3 on the situation and melded with the Record Keeper transferring its katra into himself.   The doctor warned the captain that this could kill him.  The roll was very very difficult but with a few momentum spends and he was able to succeed with 6 successes.  So now a  millennia worth of information is locked away in the captain’s brain….. Ohh there will be consequences 🙂 (and a season long arc for the Captian has been established)

Posted in Gaming Advice, Set Piece

Set Piece: Fly You Fools

The castle is being over-run; the King has been Usurped and the town is crawling with the enemy; Imperial troops have entered the base, or the undead have broken through the walls.  It is time to use discretion, the better of Valor, and live to fight another day.  In an RPG getting players to flee overmatched fights is hard to do, but when presented with an overwhelming force they may decide it’s time to fall back.   In this Set Piece, I will discuss how to run a fun encounter where the heroes are on the back foot.


The Players are forced to flee overwhelming odds.  This kind of idea requires some setup.  As a GM you can spell out the scene.  The army arrives and your forces are falling there is no way you alone can stem the tide.  This scene could follow an epic Hold the Line type fight that failed or could just be the result of events the players had no hand in.   Try not to be rail-roady; if the players wish to fight to the end you should let them. Just don’t let up on them.  This should lead to a captured or imprisoned set-piece or maybe just player death.


The mood could be utter chaos and fear or it could be composure in the face of adversity it really depends on how the players play things.  Do they give orders? Do they calm the hysterical? Or do they find a shadow to sneak in towards a hidden way out of the city?  Take your cues from them.  Show the effect they are having on the people around them with their fearless demeanor, or show the chaos and death occurring as they run away.  If they choose the latter route you don’t have to punish them.  Maybe show others trying to lead and get swarmed by the fearful mob, or cut down by a defector or the enemy.   Sometimes making whatever decision they choose seems like the right decision after-the-fact makes for a more enjoyable role-playing experience. Continue reading “Set Piece: Fly You Fools”

Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 7: Stranded in Space

What was your most Impactful RPG Session?

This a tough questions because memories fade.  What was impactful for me years ago may not seem all that impactful anymore.  However, something that happened 3 sessions ago may still resinate with me.  Well with GenCon approaching this year I still remember the best session I had last year:

Last year at GenCon I played in my first LARP game.  It was sci-fi themed.  Basically a group of us, just over a dozen I think, ended up on a starship stranded in space.  Rescue was weeks out and life support wouldn’t last near that long.  A classic Sci-fi scenario.

I’d never LARPed before but going in I decided I was going to give it my all.  I embraced my character and played it full tilt. I was a guy with something to live for.  Not a heroic or brave guy, but someone who had a family back home I supported and a very sick kid who needed my help.

As tensions rose on the ship and the inevitable was discovered, (most of us had to die so at least 2 of us could live) I didn’t take things well.   As everyone resigned themselves to their fate I was the decerning voice.  I was not one of the ones chosen to live.  A couple people were more important, the fate of worlds rested in their hands.  What did I care for worlds though; my world, my family, rested in my hands.  Inevitably the decision was stolen from me by the actions of a few of the crew and I had to accept my fate.

It was an intense role-playing session but a hell of a lot of fun.  A few of us from the game gathered at a bar afterward and drank till the wee hours of the morning, decompressing and reveling in the shared experience.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 5: The Artistic Loop

Which RPG Cover best Captures the Spirit of the Game?


Well, I would have to say that has to be the cover for Tales from the Loop.  With the beautiful art from Simon Stålenhag.  This is kind of a cheat because Simon Stålenhag’s art is what inspired the RPG in the first place, his art IS the Spirit of the Game.

Regardless the cover is a beautiful piece that conveys the idea of wonder and adventure from the eyes of children, in a setting of futuristic past.  The art throughout the book is great and you can read more on my impressions of the actual game in my Fan Friday Post.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay Day 4: Of Gods and Androids

Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

This was actually a tough one; at first blush.  I have played Roughly the Same number of sessions of Gods of the Fall, Achtung: Cthulhu, and a Cypher System game set in FFG’s Android Universe.  Then I realized that Gods of the Fall just a setting for the Cypher System.


So the answer is Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System.  The rules are fun versatile and easily adaptable to whatever setting you want to create.  I have thought of many games I could easily run using this system.  Heck, last August I quickly threw together a Warhammer Fantasy Cypher game to run at GenCon with my old Warhammer buddies. We had Bright Wizards, Slayers, Witch Hunters, and Priests of Sigmar battling the Skaven horde in no time… And it was Glorious.

It will be interesting to see if Cypher maintains this place as most played next year as Modiphius is calling to me with their great offerings and I am discovering the joys of PbtA games.  Still, however, Predation just came out and I’d love to get into a game of it.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 3: Games in Action

How Do You Find Out About New RPGs?

Well, I usually find out about a lot of new RPGs through social media and browsing Kickstarter.  But lately, the place that has introduced me to new (to me) RPGs in the most meaningful way is a YouTube and Twitch program called RollPlay by @itmeJP.


This year alone in this Actual Play Program, GM extraordinaire Adam Koebel has Introduced me to Masks: A New Generation, a teen super hero RPG I recently started GMing.  Last week Adam introduced me World Wide Wrestling, and before that Dogs in the Vineyard. I learned a lot more about Fate Accelerated with the bonkers game he runs called Nebula Jazz, and I finally got to see the great Mouse Gaurd in Action.  But Adam’s not the only GM in on the action the Awesome John Harper got to introduce me to his great game Blades in the Dark as RollPlay Blades assassinated its way through Duskwall.

Rollplay makes my work day great and has introduced me a lot of cool games I want to play.


Posted in RPGaDay 2017

RPGaDay 2017 Day 2: Alien Concepts

What is an RPG you would like to see published? 

This is a hard question there are so many cool RPGs out there all genres are represented. I would have said one that combines tech and cool dinosaurs like a childhood favorite of mine Dino Riders, but along comes MCG’s Predation so I have that now.   What are we missing? A StarGate PRG?  No that exists.. a Narrative Pirate game, nope John Wick has us covered?  A teenage monster dating sim?  Monsterhearts 2 is already here.  It is hard to come up with a concept that isn’t already out there.

Well, there is one… The one I’ve been thinking about for some time.  In the mid 90’s I picked up a computer game at a local mom and pop software store that proceeded to suck away hours of my life.   In the game, I ran an organization and recruited named and controlled squads of soldiers as we desperately tried to thwart an oncoming Alien Invasion.  That game was X-Com UFO Defense.


Ever since playing that game I thought of how cool it would be to play an RPG game based off of it.  You played the soldiers but also took part in base building ala Mutant: Year Zero dealt with research and deciding what missions you wanted to go on.  The game doesn’t have to be about tactile combat like the video game, in fact, I would prefer it not to be. I instead envision a game with cinematic battles with aliens.  The game is about the soldiers the relationships they form, the sacrifices they make, the risks they take, and ones they leave behind.

Sure there are Alien invasion RPGs but none I’ve found that center on the members of an organization trying to fight back.

I’ve actually thought of trying to make this game myself.  Hacking the Cypher System and using rule structures stolen from Mutant: Year Zero, I even started writing a few outlines but I never got too far before I was pulled elsewhere.  But still, I’d love to see someone make a valiant try at an X-COM RPG.  If something like this already exists.  Please let me know.

Ohh Dear!