Two days ago (hey it’s been a busy week for me) my late birthday gift of the Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook for the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game finally arrived. While I quickly snapped a picture of the book and shot it out for my social media followers, I knew that I was going to have to write a blog post detailing my first look at this book.
As a Treknologist and a big fan of the FASA entry into the Star Trek RPG market (especially using the Starship Construction Manual to homebrew several starships for the game) I was really looking forward to this book. I’ve seen several starship adaptations and homebrews on the Continuing Mission fan website for the Modiphus game and I was interested in trying my hand as well.
Now confession time, when the book was ordered a few months ago, Modiphius sent me a PDF copy of the book. Knowing that I wanted to blog about the book combined with the fact that I love the feel of a physical dead-tree version in my hands, I waited to read this book. Even when a fellow player was asking me questions from items he read on the PDF. Oh the temptation was seriously there for me to start reading previously.
So the book from Modiphius came shrink wrapped. Let’s rip this protective plastic off and dive into the book. There are 253 pages in this hardbound book. The ISBN number (for those of you looking for the dead-tree version) is 978-1-80281-032-5. The project manager was Jim Johnson, writing by Michael Dismuke, Jim Johnson, John Kennedy, Thomas Marrone, Aaron M. Pollyea and Al Spader. The book was edited by Jim Johnson (boy he must have been busy) and Keith Garrett.
OK, so the first opening shows this wonderful two page spread showing the top views of several classes of Starfleet vessels. Some of these are from Star Trek Online and they are all very beautiful in color. I was very pleased to see this.
There are five chapters, an introduction and an index. The chapters cover Starfleet’s Legacy (chapter 1), Starfleet Operations (chapter 2), Design Bureau (chapter 3), Federation Spaceframes (chapter 4) and Gamemastering (chapter 5). I’m glad that the text is black on white paper (with blue highlights). I was one of many people who found the odd colored text on black in the Core Rulebook very disjointing. Also as a fan of Star Trek quotes, I love how they utilized several quotes throughout the book. The motif used in the book gives it a LCARS feel from the original series movies. That was an excellent choice.
The first chapter covers the history of Starfleet from the pre-Federation days to the 25th century. The little ‘pop-up’ stories were also scaled back and not as numerous that I’ve seen in other Modiphius books. While these are good for adding some background and history, I have found that too many are very distracting. Especially when I’m trying to do a quick search for a rule.
The second chapter is an interesting concept in a role-playing resource book. It covers life on a starship while serving in Starfleet. What are your day-to-day events? Key locations of a starship are detailed. How would the characters interact with the computer? What do characters do during downtime? What happens during an evacuation? There are even sections on replication and salvages.
The Design Bureau in Chapter three is probably where I’m going to spend a lot of time in the future. There are sections for starships, small craft, space stations and more. This includes various starships talents that are used in the game. I liked seeing a guide to the different types of beam weapons (what is a Free Electron Laser vs an Antiproton Beam?) and torpedoes (example: photon vs photonic). There is even information on the Mark I Emergency Medical Hologram.
Chapter four brings us 70 Federation Spaceframes for starships, stations and small craft. This covers designs from the 22nd to 25th century. Just as I poured through the Federation, Klingon and Romulan Ship Recognition Manuals from FASA and the Starships book by Decipher, I could see myself returning to this chapter many times in the future. I knew that I couldn’t spend too much time in this chapter (I was on a time deadline to complete this blog post) but I loved the graphical and data setup (especially with the logo used for the various eras). I’ll try to model my homebrews similar to this setup (without exactly copying it). I was a little shocked to see the Hermes-class scout as seen in the Star Fleet Technical Manual. Possibly because it was mentioned in the background radio traffic in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and seen as “Okudagrams” in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Wait, they also gave us the stats for the NASA Space Shuttle that was used from 1981 to 2011? OK that deserves a chef’s kiss. (fingers to lips) *smack*
And finally chapter seven brings us to some additional game master rules which are optional. This includes a jury rig role and building specialty shuttles while out on missions (it’s got to have the fins and dials). There are also several starship centric mission briefs that GMs can use.
So am I happy with this book? Oh yea. I think it will go a long way in helping me homebrew various starships for the game. As a Treknologist, I am very impressed with the graphics and level of detail so far. There are not rows and rows of equipment charts as there were in the FASA construction manual, but it’s also a different game. There are plenty of samples of starships from a wide variety of eras so if I needed some inspiration for something, I’m sure that I could find it. I think that both players and GMs will find a lot of valuable information between these covers.