For those of you who do not know, Modiphius has just put out their new playtest for their Star Trek RPG. Like so many others, I was excited about it. I mean Star Trek is America's Doctor Who: born in the 60s, still coming out with some new material, still awesome, and something that needs a good RPG.
Star Trek had so many different RPGs over the years, from the original Fasa, to Last Unicorn, to Decypher, and now to Modiphius. With the new movie franchise, it seems we've been without a good Trek RPG for a while...
My regular group playing Red Sands (Space 1889 using Savage Worlds) decided to give it a go. I was intrigued and looking forward to it very much.
Last week, I got the early version of the playtest. It included pregens, rules introduction, a mini setting supplement, and some cheat sheets. Let's look at each of these.
The Pregens provide a good spread of Star Trek characters. I'll be honest and say I would'be liked to see more Vulcans, but that's just a personal thing. I would've taken the Vulcan but someone already called him. I like the fact that they provide them with names as male or female.
One of my biggest peaves against LUG-Trek was that it was some involved and complex to create characters, but play was simple and quick. Looking over the character sheets, I expected a simple character creation and simple game flow. My excitement grew. I chose Doctor Madim Patel, a doctor of Indian descent who is impatient and who seeks to discover a variety of new and different species. Very basic but fully in-setting.
The mini-setting is the Shackleton Expanse. Simple, bare-bones stuff for now, a good place for exploration. Fine.
The rules read easy. I did not quite fully understand how momentum works, but I got the essentials, enough to start.
I won't go into the details of the adventure, but it quickly devolved into a series of endless dice rolls where my interest quickly waned. We were attacked by mooks, requiring two successes to hit them with out phasers. It took over 30 minutes of rolling to finally hit something. Now none of the three players had any security personel, but still we had to waste our pool of momentum to hit some mooks, and we generated so many complications (remember, we rolled an endless series of dice)...
Creativity quickly gave way to: arrow up, enter, repeat. After the first hour, I was already bored and turned off by the system. If our crew was to get and use our momentum, it should be towards the climax, when things became interesting.
Our second challenge was even more ridiculous, to force us to use our momentum and personal determination. I know this was to test out the rules, but when did Kirk ever had to look at a ravine at the start of the episode and go "wow, this is the toughest challenge I have to tackle, I will put in all my heart and focus on this."
Doctor Patel sure thought so.
Now after the two initial challenges, there was a bit of story, which I will admit, was both in-setting and with some interesting ramifications.
However, as soon as we began to seek a final remedy, it was again a series of dice rolls that ended up with more momentum spent, gathered, re-spent.
I was *SO* happy when my GM called it early.
So the basics: roll 2d20 and get below Attribute+Skill. Each roll under the TN gives you a success. Simple.
If you get a Natural '1', you get two. If you roll a natural '20' you generate a complication. You can offer to fail what would be automatic in return for some bonus and generate a complication.
Combat was fine, but damage just made no sense. A phaser deals 3d damage. Therefore, you roll 3d6. If you roll a 5-6 you get an "effect", a 3-4 is "ignore" and a 1-2 is "damage". WHAT? So when do I do something? Well I'm not sure.
Most crews have scores that gives them TNs between 10 and 12. For one success, you have 50% or 60%. But to get two successes, you have 25% chance of making it. And with a 12, you go up to 36%.
Oh and you can use your determination to get auto-successes too!
Meh you can read all that on your own. I'm sure their stuff is all over the internet.
During that first encounter, I quickly felt like I was playing a resource management board game where each player would add to the pool on their turn, then use it and generate more.
Creativity did not feel like it had any impact on some of these challenges. In the end, I just could not care if the people of the planet lived, died, or turned into purple ninjas. I just wanted to go an have an afternoon nap. It seemed more productive.
This was the alpha version of the game.
When I read it, I thought it would play like Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, but no... There are so many ways to ensure success and generate stuff that you begin to meta-play about how to get more momentum from useless/less important rolls for those you really want to make.
As is, my money is completely safe in my wallet and Modiphius will not see a penny of mine.
They have a few ideas that could be good. Lower the determination, don't make the game about momentum. In short, simplify and focus on a few things. Right now, this felt like a board game. And you know know what I say? There is the word bored in board game.
In the end, I told my GM, Mike, not to contact for the next game of this. Maybe when Beta comes out, but this is a piece of crap floating in space.
Pass until they come up with the Beta release.