Star Trek: The Role Playing Game is, as the name indicates, a role-playing game set in the fictional Star Trek universe published and edited by FASA Corporation from 1982 to 1989. (FASA's involvement is the reason for the inclusion of this article on BTW.)
Star Trek: The Role Playing Game was principally set on board starships in the United Federation of Planets' Star Fleet. Most player characters were assumed to be members of Star Fleet, engaged in space exploration missions. They typically held senior posts on a starship bridge, and visited alien planets as part of landing parties.
For the most part, the game's published supplements and modules were set in the "original crew" movie era (a.d 2280/90s), but a few were set in the original TV era (2260s) or a century later in the Next Generation era (a.d 2360/70s).
Because of the simplicity of the game's structure, all of the supplements, regardless of their "era", could be easily re-set to suit a different era.
FASA Trek vs "canon" Trek
FASA designed their Star Trek game universe nearly five years before Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) (1987-1994) first aired. The game's designers built their "game universe" when there was no official canon, and they borrowed heavily from ideas in the Star Trek original series, the Star Trek animated series, fan fiction and the works of the late Star Trek novelist John M. Ford.
FASA had previously written supplements for GDW's Traveller, an association which influenced the early structure of the Star Trek game.
The game system was percentile based, meaning that for every action or test desired, players had to roll two ten-sided dice to generate a random number from 1 to 100. Success or failure was determined either by rolling against a set difficulty target, or a player's own skill, or a hybrid of both, adjusted by circumstances.
For example, assuming no modifiers, if a player had a skill of 45 and rolled 33, the character was assumed to have been successful in that action. If there were tools for the task available, the player might have a bonus of +25; if the task is made more difficult because of conditions (such as a space battle) the player might have a penalty of -25.
The rulebooks provided systems for governing personal combat, space and planetary exploration and combat between starships. Supplements provided additional rules for characters in the Klingon Empire and Romulan Star Empire, interplanetary trade and commerce, and campaigns focusing on other non-Star Fleet players.
Each planet in the game's atlas had a code that - coupled with the character's merchant skill and some luck - allowed players to buy and trade across the galaxy. A ship's carrying capacity was not based on tonnage, but on volume (i.e. how much space a ship can hold). There were also rules on buying and selling stock on the Federation stock market.
Like most role-playing games of its era, players had to roll dice to determine the opening attributes of their character. Star Trek: The Role Playing Game characters begin with seven basic abilities - Strength, Endurance, Dexterity, Intellect, Luck, Charisma and Psionic Potential. Though generated prior to the commencement of play of the first gaming session, these attributes are adjusted depending on the character's race. (Vulcans, for example, gained a natural bonus to their Psionic Potential score, a measure of their heightened psionic skill.)
Players had the option of playing virtually any humanoid character introduced in the original Star Trek TV series, the animated series or the first few 1980s movies. They included: Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, Andorians, Orions, Klingons, Romulans. Two other races introduced in the animated series - Caitians and Edoans - could also be played.
Players determined their character's background education and opening age by rolling dice, accumulating skill points based on their choice of assignment (helm operations, communications, medical etc.) or tours of duty in the military (usually the United Federation of Planets Star Fleet, but also the space navies of the Klingon Empire or Romulan Star Empire) or civilian life (merchant shipping).
Players also had the option of assuming the roles of the Star Trek characters, including Captain Kirk, Mr Spock, Lieutenant Uhura and Yeoman Janice Rand instead of creating their own character.
Starship Tactical Combat Simulator game
The game's basic rule system provided a simple system for moderating space battles, in which each player assumed a role in the battle, typically by manning a station on the ship's bridge.
The Captain determined the strategy, the Engineer was responsible for power management and allocation to different systems such as weapons and shields, the Helmsman for firing weapons, the Navigator for managing deflector shields, the Communications Officer for damage control and so on.
FASA later developed that system into a more complex standalone game, the Starship Tactical Combat Simulator, similar to a tabletop wargame. During a role-playing session, if the adventure called for a space battle, role-players had the option of using this standalone game to determine the outcome of the battle.
FASA's depiction of the Star Trek universe was widely received in the mid-80s, even by people who did not play role-playing games, and for the most part it was assumed by many to be canon. Many players were dismayed when Star Trek: The Next Generation began to air in 1987 with what many saw as "changes" to a pre-established universe.
In effect, what had been assumed to be canon was, in a short space of time, no longer.
Paramount Pictures, who owned the licence to Star Trek, revoked FASA's licence to publish the official role-playing game in 1989. The decision was sudden, and by some accounts provoked by what became the last two supplements produced by FASA - The Next Generation Officer's Manual, published in 1988, and The Next Generation First Year Sourcebook, published in 1989.
Both contained material which Paramount later said had been published without the correct clearances from within the studio. Given the rising success of the Star Trek franchise, it follows that Paramount now wanted to exert a greater degree of control over the game, to ensure it remained consistent with the TV series.
Many players blamed the studio for its abrupt disolution of FASA's licence as well as Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry for retconning of what had been seen as established Star Trek lore. They sent letters of protest to the studio, and to contemporary science-fiction magazines such as Starlog and GDW's Challenge magazine, in vain.
Given the avalanche of canon material which has come since that time - the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise, several subsequent theatrical films and a library of novelisations - FASA's interpretation of Star Trek has largely been forgotten except by a handful of die-hard fans.
The rise of the internet, in particular, has given voice again to fans of the FASA version of the Klingons and Klingonaase, enthusiasm for "khomerex zha" and Klingon nomenclature (epetai, zutai; a Klingon worldview and Klingon honorifics respectively, both created by John M. Ford) and references to "human-fusion" and "Imperial" Klingons.
- Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, 1st Ed. (1982)
- Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, 2nd Ed. (1983)
Set in the 2260s
- Ship Construction Manual, 1st Ed. (supplement, 1983)
- Ship Recognition Manual: Federation, 1st Ed. (supplement, 1983)
- Ship Recognition Manual: The Klingon Empire, 1st Ed. (supplement, 1983)
- Star Trek Gamemaster's Kit (supplement, 1983)
- Trader Captains and Merchant Princes, 1st Ed. (supplement, 1983)
- The Four Years War (supplement, 1986)
Set in the 2280/2290s
- The Klingons (supplement, 1984)
- The Romulans (supplement, 1984)
- Star Trek III Sourcebook Update (supplement, 1984)
- Star Trek III: Starship Combat Game Box Set (supplement, 1984)
- Federation Ship Recognition Manual (supplement, 1985)
- Klingon Ship Recognition Manual (supplement, 1985)
- Romulan Ship Recognition Manual (supplement, 1985)
- Ship Construction Manual, 2nd Ed. (supplement, 1985)
- The Triangle (supplement, 1985)
- The Triangle Campaign (supplement, 1985)
- The Federation (supplement, 1986)
- Klingon Intelligence Briefing (supplement, 1986)
- The Romulan War (supplement, 1986)
- Star Trek IV Sourcebook Update (supplement, 1986)
- Klingons: Game Operations Manual (supplement, 1987)
- Klingons: Star Fleet Intelligence Manual (supplement, 1987)
- The Orions (supplement, 1987)
- Regula-1 Orbital Station Deckplans (supplement, 1987)
- Star Fleet Intelligence Manual (supplement, 1987)
- Trader Captains & Merchant Princes, 2nd Ed. (supplement, 1987)
Set in the 2360s
- Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual (supplement, 1988)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation First Year Sourcebook (supplement, 1989)
- Denial Of Destiny (adventure, 1983)
- The Vanished (adventure, 1983)
- Witness For The Defense (adventure, 1983)
- Demand of Honor (adventure, 1984)
- Margin of Profit (adventure, 1984)
- Orion Ruse, The (adventure, 1984)
- Termination: 1456 (adventure, 1984)
- Graduation Exercise (adventure, 1985)
- The Outcasts (adventure, 1985)
- Where Has All The Glory Gone? (adventure, 1985)
- A Doomsday Like Any Other (adventure, 1986)
- Conflict of Interests (adventure, 1986)
- Decision at Midnight (adventure, 1986)
- The Dixie Gambit (adventure, 1986)
- The Mines Of Selka (adventure, 1986)
- Old Soldiers Never Die (adventure, 1986)
- Return to Axanar (adventure, 1986)
- The Strider Incident (adventure, 1987)
- The White Flame (scenarios for the Combat Simulator, 1987)
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