Star Trek: Frontlines – Episode 5: Attack on DS9

A Star Trek: Adventures actual play account

Today’s Lesson: Don’t look like you’re enjoying killing the players too much. Really, I don’t think this was a huge problem, but I do feel like I was trying a bit to hard to cause actual damage, which may have been a bit discouraging. You want the players ot think that the task is difficult, but not impossible. They are the heroes, after all. How do you acheive this balance? I haven’t quite figured that out. I’m more of a lets make the story interesting and lead to the villains inevitable demise. Crunching numbers to make battles even are not so much my thing. So today’s report is a bit more just commentary about the system, since we really only had the one major battle in defense of Deep Space Nine.

deep space nine

Since I knew I wanted to throw all the Klingons at them, I gave the players another ship, a Nebula class called the Shiloh, as well as full use of their fighters, which we haven’t had a chance to use yet. Collins and Nos’grom moved to the Shiloh, Takis and Mooch stayed on the Kidd, and Shon took control of the fighters.

I had the players help me find the rules about how many actions each ship gets in combat. We decided rather than go back and forth after each action, each ship would be allowed to take its full range of actions before allowing the initiative to pass to the next player. Otherwise I think the battles would drag on far too much.

Also, for the purposes of this game, the fighters all acted on the same turn, but counted as four scale 2 ships. This may be giving them more credit than they should get, but the book does allow Federation fighters to be counted as a scale 2 ship. I think this gave a good feeling of the amount of firepower they had, but I’m not sure it gives credence to their manuevering. I may have to look into that a bit more. They are harder for large ships to hit, however. I will have to have a chance to fight back with some Cardassian fighters at some point.

It began with a K’vort and two B’rel class birds of prey up against the Kidd (Akira), Shiloh (Nebula) and the fighters. I fired some shots and cloaked a B’rel, waiting to see if they would do their now famous ‘fire torpedoes in the general area of the cloacked vessel’ maneuver. There was some discussion about who to name it after, since I had though it was Collins’ idea, but apparently I was mistaken. They didn’t go there this time however, and made quick work of the other B’rel. The K’vort took a little longer to take down, and I got a few good hits in against the Shiloh.

Once they had built up enough momentum, however, those ships and the two additional Klingons I brought in were shot down fairly easily. The fighters managed to bring down one of the B’rels.

I got started late, traffic and bad weather kept me from getting there on time. So we only had time for the battle. I am getting a bit more comfortable with the rules I think, though I still forget a lot of them, and have to look up stuff all the time. I need to make a custom cheat sheet for myself I think, so I don’t have to flip around in the books so much.

Join us next time, as the team gets sent off on an away mission that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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Star Trek: Frontlines – Episode 4: Refugees

A Star Trek: Adventures actual play

Today’s Lesson: Starship combat is complicated. And apparently I didn’t even use the full amount of actions I could have taken. Though I think I need to read more about that to be sure. One of the players claims that each ship has as many actions each round as their scale . . . but, well that would take an eternity. It took quite some time as it was. There was a new player that joined us as ship’s doctor, but who didn’t get a chance to do anything and left early because the others were so engrossed in the combat. well, half of the others. It seems I will never be able to engage all of this group with this game, though I have had more luck at conventions.

I started this episode in the middle of the action. The USS Kidd was assigned to help two transports full of Federation refugees fleeing from territory that the Klingons were now claiming as their own. Their warp engines had been damaged, and they were hiding in a nebula in the Lembatta cluster, hoping to make repairs before the Klingons could find them again. The Kidd arrived, headed into the Nebula – and the captain and XO began to argue about how to address the Klingons.

Commander Collins, having extensive experience with Klingons (ie. he has a Klingon girlfriend) strongly suggested a strong demand for the Klingons to leave Federation space. Several others on the bridge agreed, but the Captain, a Denublian who prefers to reason with his enemies (unless their female Romulans, then he just annoys them) instead led with a request to be allowed to rescue the transport ships. The Klingons answered with disrupter fire.

One of the K’Vort cruisers managed to find the Kidd in the nebula and fired at them, while the massive Negh’var began firing at the transports. They both missed, but Captain Takis was no longer amused. They began to concentrate fire on the K’Vort that had fired on them. There was another K’Vort somewhere in the nebula, but it was having trouble locating the Kidd.

K'Vort Class cruisers

To bolster their defenses, Takis order Nos’grom, the science officer, to fire two probes that would give off signals that would immitate other Federation ships, and hopefully distract one or more of the Klingon birds of prey. The Negh’var however, decided to come after the Kidd, and got several good hits in (disrupter cannons have 11 damage dice guys!). The Engineering crew, bolstered by the quick actions of the Doctor and the scans of the Nos’grom, managed to keep on top of repairs, and bring the shields back up quickly.

The Klingons did not have the same luck. One of the K’vorts was disabled quickly by the Kidd, and the Negh’var was distracted by the possibility of more than one Akira class ship arriving in defense of the transports. The transports managed to get their engines repaired and they and the Kidd hauled it out of the nebula and back into uncontested Federation space.

The Kidd took on some of the injured or dead passangers from the transports, and Captain Takis’s wife, the head counsellor for the ship did her best to help them calm down as they were patched up. She noticed right away that some of the crew was acting very strange. They were demanding back the body of one of their population, just known as Smith. Will, a Vulcan who was acting very un-Vulcan like, was getting in the face of any officer who came on board to demand Smith back. Lt. jg Mooch, probably destined to forever stay a jg, tried to get a bribe out of the refugees in exchange for the immediate return of the body, but since Nos’grom wasn’t playing along, Smith refused.

Nos’grom studied the body and discovered he had swallowed an isolinear rod. It was damaged, but she managed to pull of distorted recordings of the Klingon high council. Rather than allow Smith to have the information back, Takis denied all knowledge of the rod, and turned it in to Commader Sisko when they reached DS9. Collins managed to get to spar with Lt. Worf and held his own, Nos’grom hung out with Lt. Dax, and Shon played spring ball and beat Doctor Bashir.

Join us next week for the next episode, and enjoy momtoast.com which has other rpg goodies, art, and other geeky pursuits.

Star Trek: Frontlines – Episode 3: Marie Celestial

A Star Trek: Adventures actual play

Today’s Lesson: Give the players what they want. When you don’t, it’s torture. It’s torture for you, torture for them, and people can even start to get upset. Granted, I had a bad day yesterday when we played this mission. I was still bent on doing a string of intrigue stories leading them into the Dominion War. Really, though, it seems they really just wanted to start blowing things up. Sigh. I have a feeling this is going to be very boring for me. Especially since we don’t have stats yet for a lot of the Dominion stuff. Ah well, I will see if they are interested in taking part in the Klingon War that happened before. We have a LOT of stats for Klingons.

We begin with the crew of the USS Kidd on a mission to escort Partha, an Orion informant for Starfleet, back to Libertalia station, an independent, unaligned station between the borders. They are to see she arrives safely, and await the information she is gathering there. The Kidd has no trouble escorting her towards the station, but rather than roll in and scatter the slimy roaches Partha is there to meet, she takes the smuggler’s ship that the Kidd had impounded last time, and they part ways. The smuggling ship carried a tracking device encoded to send messages back to the Kidd.

As they continue along the border to wait from a safe distance, they pick up an uncloaked Romulan Warbird, floating just inside Federation space. As the Neutral Zone has been very quiet lately, this is an odd discovery. The Kidd comes along to investigate.

Romulan D'Deridex warbird

They find the ship is in perfect working order, but there are no life signs on board. Considering a warbird of this size can carry 2,000 people, this is a disturbing discovery. The crew beams over a tricorder to get some more readings at a safe distance. They find that there are plenty of bodies still there, but nothing in the air or wrong with the ship that would cause the deaths of so many. To prevent further trouble from arizing, the Kidd uses its tractor beam to start pushing the ship back into the Neutral Zone.

Just as they begin to do this, another Romulan ship decloaks, demanding to know what the Federation is doing with their ship, and why everyone is dead. Quick and open sharing of the information they had discovered disarms the Romulan Commander, Modex, who requests they be given a moment to assess the situation, if the Kidd is willing to stick around. The Captain agreed, and they allowed the Romulans to study their data as well as scan the ship of dead. In exchange for some more information about the possible desease that killed all the Romulans aboard, the Captain lets the Romulans know about the smuggling ship that it seems met with this derelict ship not long ago. The Kidd then moves away, leaving the Romulans to deal with their dead.

As they start moving off, the signal coming from the smuggling ship changes to the call for help. The Kidd makes an impresive entrance, dropping out of warp as close to the Libertalia Station as they dare, to find a furball of a fight happening around the smuggling vessel. Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi and other ships are buzzing around, trying to win the prize.

The Kidd target locks as many ships as it can, and broadcasts an announcement that it is claiming the ship as its own. Most of the ships scatter. The Romulans try to lay claim, but the Captain quickly shuts them down. Finally, after a discussion with the Klingons, who are fairly civil considering the current tension between the two governments, they let the Captain know that this ship was known to be smuggling weapons from the Romulans into Klingon space. Partha confirms this once they get her back on the ship, and they head back to Starbase 234 with the information.

Star Trek: Frontlines – Episode 2: Contraband

A Star Trek: Adventures actual play

Today’s lesson: chain of command is hard. Especially for RPGers, who are used to being part of a ragtag bunch of heroes who are allowed to do whatever they want, so long as they don’t get the party killed. My general feeling is that there is no wrong way to play an RPG, so long as you aren’t a jerk. But in Star Trek, there is the added layer of a command structure, and a very defnite set of rules that your character is meant to play by. Also, the missions tend to be not combat heavy. Sure, there are fights, and ship battles, but mostly its about solving problems. Our new player is having trouble adjusting. I hope he is still enjoying the game.

This week found our heros aboard the USS Kidd patrolling the Klingon/Federation/Romulan border in their impressive Akira class starship. They spotted no Romulans so far, but there were several Klingon ships the kept dropping in and out of cloak on their side of the border, just to remind the crew of the Kidd that they were there. With the Klingon Empire having pulled out of the Khitomer Accords, both sides seem to want to make a show of power along the borders.

After a time they caught a distress call from a freighter close to the border. A long range scan relvealed they were being attacked by Orion pirates. As soon as the Akira came within firing range, however, the Orions bolted into Klingon space. Where they were met by a decloaking Vor’cha class ship. The Klingons gave chase to the Orions, while the Kidd stopped to help the freighter.

Right away, Lt. Cmdr. Collins, the by the book XO, knew there was something fishy about Mick, the captain of the small freighter. He had questionable registration, and was less than enthusiastic about discussing his inventory. It was finally revealed that he had quite a bit of hard to get Romulan and Klingon items in the cargo hold. He explained that business used to be fine, there were few patrols in the area, and even a few Feds appreciated his wares. But now, with the war on, no one could get any work done.

An impressive job of scanning was done by Lt. Cmdr. Nos’Grum also revealed a secret compartment underneath the ship. Though Lt. Shawn, a fiesty Andorian security officer, wanted to break into the compartment, they convinced Mick to let them in. It was already empty.

As the crew of the Kidd examined the ship, and locked up Mick, the Klingon ship, one IKS Chal’kul captained by Karuk reappeared nearby, hauling what was left of the Orion ship behind it. Captain Takis hailed the Klingons and basically asked if they were willing to share any information about their prize. Karuk told him to get lost in typical Klingon fashion. So the Kidd began to scan the Orion ship. It still had lifesigns, though it was in bad shape. There was an odd flicker in the Klingon’s shields during the scan. Surprisingly, the Klingons let it go to drift near the Kidd and cloaked.

The Akira class, not necessarily according to the ST:A rule book, but according to this amazing website, has the ability to scan and tell some information about what cloaked ships are up to, particularly if they go to warp. Nos’Grum was able to tell that the Klingons had indeed warped away.

The Orion’s then opened a channel and panicked screaming ensued, and the crew realized that the Orion ship was about to explode. They beamed the Orion aboard and warped away as the ship blew to pieces.

Now, in addition to Mick in the brig, they had three Orion pirates, their captain, and one slave girl.

The Orion captain was angry, and paced most of the way, while the others poked fun at Mick. The slave girl stayed quiet. Even when Lt. jg Mooch arrived to try and talk to her some. He has had a bit of a past with Orion women, and thought he had a chance.

They were all taken to Starbase 234 to be tried for their crimes, and so the Kidd could start cataloging all the contraband they had collected, including Romulan Ale, Klingon Bloodwine, various Klingon weapons, and Romulan eyebrow wax and shoulder pads. Though the Admiral at the starbase was happy to have the criminals in custody, she told the crew that Partha, the Orion woman, was to be liberated, and escorted back to a station known as Libertalia, a nuetral station in an unclaimed part of space.

Join us next week for the next installment of Star Trek: Frontlines, and join us on Patreon for more gaming goodness, or story bites.

Star Trek: Frontlines – Preparation and Episode 1

A Star Trek: Adventures Actual Play

I have a very . . . ambitious playing group. So for this campaign, I am trying to be more prepared. Think I have enough books?

All the star trek resource books

Star Trek Adventures Books

Core Rulebook

These are the Voyages: Mission Companion, Vol 1

The Command Division: Supplemental Rulebook

Beta Quadrant: Sourcebook

Other Resources

The Star Trek Encycolpedia: A Reference Guide to the Future

The First Line: Starfleet Intelligence Handbook (ST:TNG RPG)

A Fragile Peace: The Romulan Nuetral Zone (ST:TNG RPG)

List basic plot structure, timeline choices

The Crew

Captain Takis (Denobulan) – The crew is his family. Lost a ship to Orion pirates, and then lost the Zephyr to Klingons

First Officer, Lt. Cmmdr. Jackson Collins (Human) – fast tracked lifer in Starfleet, very by the book

Security Chief, The New Guy (Andorian) – the newest crewmember, not afraid of a fight

Chief Science Officer, Lt. Cmmdr. Nos’Grum (Tellarite) – everyone around her is an idiot and she can prove it mathematically

CONN, Lt. jg Mooch (Joined Trill) – likes the thrills of flying and women

Episode 1 – Valhalla

This is the second campaign I have played with this crew. The last campaign ended with their Nova Class ship, the USS Zephyr, facing off against three Berel Class Klingon warbirds. It ended in a stale mate, with all the ships engines being blown to bits. The players had been begging me for an Akira class for ages, and I told them they would just cause trouble. This seemed to prove my point. But I could see they were itching for more action, so we began this season with an Akira.

Akira class starship

The crew is sent on a mission along the Romulan Nuetral Zone, where the Klingon border meets it, to make a show of Federation strength in this rough time. Almost as soon as the USS Kidd leaves Narendra Station, they receive a distress signal from Balduk, a small planet not very far away. They head to the planet, and find a Federation shuttle on the planet, giving off an automated distress signal. There are no life signs. The captain contacted a nearby science outpost, and confirmed that they were missing an officer who took a shuttle to survey nearbay planets. An away team heads down in a shuttle to investigate. Once they hit the atmosphere the shuttle rocked wildly, the engines began to lose energy, and thousands of life signs appeared on the planet.

Thanks to some quick work by the XO and the science officer, they managed to polarize the hull of the shuttle and stop the energy from draining. They then landed easily beside the stranded shuttle. The life signs on the planet were of all kinds of races, Klingons, Romulans, Human and more, all a short distance away and moving in battle line patterns. The security cheif and others made a sweep around the shuttle, and discovered a very frightened science officer, holding on to a type 1 phaser like his life depended on it.

They get Lt. Doleo back onto the shuttle and head back up to the ship. Once clear of the planet’s atmosphere, however, they notice that whatever was draining the shuttle was still there, like a cloud around the ship. After further investigation, they discovered part mechanical part biological microscopic creatures that were feeding on the engines of the shuttle. They were also busy repairing extensive injuries to Lt. Deleo. After looking more closely in sickbay they discovered he had suffered extensive injuries that already only appeared to be superficial because of the creatures.

To the Doctor, Lt. Deleo went on about how terrifying the planet is, and how the people there do nothing but kill each other, and that there were large winged women that carried off the dead. He also insisted on speaking to the captain alone, and there he revealed that he was in fact an intelligence agent, and that the crew was tasked to look for three known spies in the area. They are sent back down to the planet to retrieve the data from the stranded shuttle, managing to avoid a direct confrontation with either the people there who were now defending the shuttle, or the large winged being that came to retreive a dead Romulan from within the shuttle.

They beamed aboard a Viking long enough to retrieve the data chip, and sent him back quickly. They sent information back to command about the strange planet, and headed on their way.

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