When doing a discussion about rules I feel near every review is wrong. They nearly always treat the rulesets as a statement of fact, but this is only so in regards to the individual. If someone enjoys crunchy systems they will not enjoy narrative ones for the most part and vice versa. That is just personal preference but it can drastically drive the enjoyment of an individual's game experience. So for this I won’t try to focus on the rules as much as I do I think the rules work for a Star Trek game.
Star Trek is a difficult game. It requires something of players that is not always common. They have to believe in the setting and want to be there. Not from a mechanical rules perspective but from a setting one. A lot of GM’s ignore etiquette and setting in games. There are a lot of reasons for this. It hurts the games they are running too but it would make Trek impossible.
So the real question and the first question and seriously I think this should be asked and if the answer is not right don’t progress. The question is simply. Do they want to play Star Trek?
Now this isn’t a question of do they want to play a game of Trek. This is asking if they want to play Star Trek. Most fantasy games every character is equal. Not so in Trek. Every player is equal but within Starfleet there are ranks. These come with privileges and expectations. This also means there is a real emphasis on teamwork and the ranks are essential. In all likelihood someone will have rank over another character. The game needs good communicators.
It is also Star Trek. Combat is not always unavoidable but it is never meant to be a first choice option. Even when provoked Starfleet is not meant to respond with violence if there is any other option. So many other games the combat is the focus of the game and many times the only reason to play.
Trek relies on the RP first. Without combat being the focus the players have to really enjoy playing their character. They need to look at it more like a character on the show and enjoy RP’ing that individual.
So as a GM you can’t just have people that will play a Star Trek RPG, what you need is players who want to play that setting, be a character in it and follow the ideals of the setting. Anything less and the game won’t work and after a few sessions it won’t feel right, it won’t feel like Star Trek. GM’s be picky, you really do need the right players.
So do the rules help it feel like Star Trek. After playing the game for more than a year I think so. They fit a little more towards the crunchy side with the 2d20 system and my preference for a narrative game like Trek would be to have a more narrative system, but there are narrative elements in the rules. The base skill use is quick and focus on teamwork and helping the other players have a good time is in the rules.
Extended tasks are a bit mechanical in nature and I tend to not use them in order to keep the pace going. We have also simplified ship to ship combat as nearly every game struggles to make ship combat simple and to move at any pace other than a snail. Trek works best when its narrative, the more crunch the less narrative I have found things.
The books are beautiful and read really well. They are interesting, give you the correct feel for what the game is. A couple of companies have tried to do a Star Trek RPG in the past and I have played them all. But only the current one from first opening the book to having played it for a year feels like Trek. The Modiphius game has its faults but it gets it right in the core areas.
We are excited to be bring our Star Trek Adventures to you in 2021
It is always a tricky thing when you want to use one game but a ruleset from another. Often the conversation starts with "Do you think X ruleset is bad then?" But that isn't always the case and there are only a couple of rulesets that I really do not enjoy. The factors that go into these choices are a lot more nuanced. Game designers have to chose a ruleset that they think will match the setting. Its style and pace. That is not often an easy thing to do. The ruleset also has to be commercially successful. It will not matter if it is perfect for the setting but everyone doesn't enjoy it.
I think the Shadowrun rules are fine. That wasn't the issue. It stemmed very much from why I RP and what I look for in a game. As long as everyone at the table is having fun it doesn't matter what style or ruleset you do. But over the years I have found I have become far more disinterested in rules. I play with some friends whose eyes light up in a crunchy ruleset combat. They enjoy the tactics and resource management of those combats. They love to chose the right feat/spell at the right time. It is a totally valid way to play. It's just not me.
I am the 7 year old jumping from a tree limb as if it were a pirate ships mast. Have at thee ya muck rake! Its story, narration and the players characters that excite me. To pull me into a different world, to have unexpected things arise and to see how the players create a shared story. A improv play with rules is what fires me and Genesys (7th Sea is another) is the best narrative ruleset I have seen. The dice pulls the players into story, it helps them add good and bad elements into every skill roll they make. it encourages the players to be descriptive and to expand upon ideas. I love Genesys.
Now there was a very important distinction which I hope people noticed. I said I felt it was the best Narrative RPG not the BEST RPG. Everyone plays for different reasons and different rulesets provide for different players and their playstyles. The ruleset that works best for me might not for the next player. Find the game you love and play that with other people that want to play that way and you should always have a good evening at the table.