Sunday, May 26, 2024

Star Trek Adventures: Sciences Division Supplement Is A Scientific Marvel

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If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I am a fan of Modiphius Entertainment’s Star Trek Adventures tabletop game. I follow the development, run a game, and create NPCs. And in celebration of First Contact Day (April 5th), Modiphius has provided me with a review copy of the new Star Trek Adventures: Sciences Division book. I tore into it right away, taking notes and experimenting with different systems in it. And I have to say, it’s one of the best supplemental books for Star Trek Adventures yet. There is a lot of new info, and a lot of really interesting new plot hooks and mechanics for players and (especially) GMs. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s first take a look at the book in general.

The Book Itself

Sciences Division is 128 pages with an index. The general aesthetic of the book is the LCARS computer screen from TNG that has been in every book so far; as a fan of Star Trek that always makes me happy to see. In addition to the aesthetics of the book, the chapters and information in those chapters is really well organized. This lack of organization was one of my main complaints about the core rulebook and I’m glad they cleaned it up.

Chapter one offers an introduction to the book and gives brief overview of the remaining chapters, as well as a sidebar on how to incorporate the book’s info with different eras of play.  Chapter two introduces the science and medical divisions in more detail. It gives some detail about the various scientific, medical, and exploration missions Starfleet undertakes. It also describes other scientific institutions in Federation, such as the Daystrom Institute. Chapter three goes over various new character options for science and medical such as new lifepath options and new talents. In addition, they also describe the most common focuses a scientist or medical officer might have. Chapter four discusses some of the mechanics of science and medicine in game and has rules for medical equipment. It then goes into some detail on how to create ‘strange’ alien races. It even has rules for introducing a member of the Q Continuum into the game. Chapter five is for GMs primarily and contains plot hooks that a GM can use to create science based missions. It also has a section on how to create stellar hazards. The sixth and final chapter includes stats for various NPCs. These range from Dr. Carol Marcus from the second Star Trek movie to Data’s creator, Doctor Noonian Soong.

The USS Sally Ride, exploring a pulsar.

A GM’s Perspective

Sciences Division, from the perspective of a GM, is a godsend. It fills the final hole left open by the Command and Engineering supplement books. And as I previously mentioned, the book is well organized, so flipping through the book trying to find a specific rule isn’t difficult.  The plot components section is also easy to understand, with examples from different episodes of Star Trek helping the GM get a sense of how these different plot ideas would actually work in practice.

The expanded rules for different stellar and planetary hazards were also wonderful additions. The universe of Star Trek is full of nebula, novas, and various other hazards that until now weren’t elaborated on. Now there are rules for these stellar hazards. Add to this interesting rules for creating unique aliens that can live in the vacuum of space or in the corona of stars and you have the building blocks for fun and challenging quests.

But perhaps the part I am most excited for as a GM is the extended section on how to introduce a member of the Q Continuum into the game. Q was one of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s most well known antagonist, and certainly one of the most fun ones. The section on Q in the book is shorter than I personally would like, but it touches on the most important aspects of bringing one of Star Trek’s  most famous races to your game.

A Player’s Perspective

The main downside of this book is that it is more for GMs, rather then players.  It contains a lot of new rules and a lot of new plot hooks, but not as many new options for players. There are new talents and new lifepath options for scientists and doctors, but there are no new playable races or ships. Mostly, it seems to be ways to expand on characters that already exist, but not make any new characters.

That’s not to say there are no new options for players in this book. There are a few that almost make up for the lack of new races. One in particular is very interesting: Genetically enhanced characters. In the lore of Star Trek, genetic enhancements are incredibly illegal. Starfleet bans anyone with genetic enhancements from joining, but that doesn’t stop some people.  Now you have actual stat boosts and mechanics to being genetically engineered. Another fun thing you can do with a new character is have them either be from the past, or from the Mirror Universe. Rules for both time travel and parallel universes are introduced and a GM might allow you to play as a refugee from the past. These rules aren’t quite on the level of an entire new species though. As I said before, it expands on options you already had, but doesn’t add new ones.

“I like science.”

Minor nitpicks aside, Sciences Division is a great addition to any Star Trek Adventures GM or player’s library. It provides a great background for various scientific characters, introduces fun new rules, and adds tons of new plot hooks. I recommend the book in the strongest possible terms.

You can purchase a copy of Star Trek Adventures: Science Division Supplement from Modiphius Entertainment‘s website or from DriveThruRPG. Modiphius is also currently running a promotion today (April 5th) for First Contact Day, where all Star Trek Adventures materials will be 50% off! And don’t forget to pick up your free download of the Tribbles playable race for ST:A Thanks again to Modiphius Entertainment for providing me with a review copy!

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Images and review copy of book provided by Modiphius Entertainment.

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