Wednesday, 12 June 2013

My history with the Star Trek RPG by FASA

My recent post about the Star Trek Deck Building Game combined with a post by +David Lowry over on Google Plus had me thinking about Star Trek The Role Playing Game by FASA. David's post in particular had me telling the story of how I wanted to play this game for years and finally got to last year. After completing my reply I thought it would make for a good post for the WGR. So here I am.

The history

Back when I first got into hobby gaming and roleplaying games, the Dragon Lady (woman who owned the FLGS: Dragon's Den), told me I should check out the local University club. I was only 12 at the time but they didn't have any requirement that you had to be a University member. It was called the Windsor Gaming Society and is probably the name I would have used for my own gaming organization if it weren't already taken.

So I went. I had never played a game with anyone but my cousin at that time and I fell in love with playing with new people and trying all manner of games. I tried D&D for the first time and hated it. I played Cyberpunk. I checked out Chill. I got to be the Computer in Paranoia, and more. But there was one game from those days that always stood out; the weekly Star Trek game.

The Star Trek game started at 6:00 Pm every Saturday. The GMs (yes there was more than one) started early though. See it was in a student lounge and they would re-arrange all the furniture. In the middle of the room they rolled out a giant chalk board. That was set up as the main view screen with all the lights and indicators drawn in before the game started. As the game was played the GMs would draw what the characters could see on this board.

 On one side of the board was The Away Team table: a board room table used by players on an away mission. On the bridge side they set up all the chairs so that it was in the same pattern as the bridge. With the biggest chair in the lounge going to the Captain. Every session started with a boom box playing the opening theme. There were always two GMs so that some players could beam down to whatever planet/station/ship was part of the story this week and the others could stay on the bridge and both groups could play without having to wait for the other. The GMs would meet up now and then and make sure everything stayed on the same page.

It was a pure joy to watch. I would sit there for 6 hours just watching these cats play Star Trek. I would try to split my attention between the two sides. I would try to follow the plot and imagine what I would do if I was playing. Sadly I wasn't playing though. Sadly they didn't want a kid playing with them. Something to this day I resent (and one of the main reasons most WGR events are all ages).

Fast forward to now

So years went by with me always thinking back to that awesome Star Trek game that those guys at The Club used to play. Growing up gaming I always kept my eyes open for FASA Star Trek but the local shops never had it. They've always been fairly small with a selection to match (we are truly blessed with shops like Hugin & Munin now that have shelves of rpgs). Years went by and while I didn't forget about FASA Star Trek it went to the back of my mind.

Last year I found a copy of the game on eBay for like $20 unpunched! so I jumped at it. After getting it I devoured the rules finishing them in one night. I found a very solid sounding D100 based Sci-Fi RPG. There was a lifepath system similar in ways to Traveler combined with a very skill heavy roll under percentile game and a action point based combat system that still to this day makes me wonder if the designers of X-Com played FASA Trek.

So now that I had the game I had to run it. I invited most of my old original gaming group to come try the game out as many of them were also 'those kids' back in the Windsor Gaming Society days and also missed out on the game as I did. In addition I invited a small group of gamers I've gotten to know through the WGR that I thought would dig this. One of my original group actually drove 4 hours to play in this game. 

It was fantastic. It was probably the most fun and memorable RPG experiences I've had in my adult life. Both new friends and old got right into it. See thing thing about a Star Trek RPG is that everyone knows Trek. We all know the tropes. We all know the Trekspeak. We all know the sounds and what to expect. It's got to be one of the easiest games to roleplay in that I own.

Now saying that, we did run into a few rules issues, so once done I jumped on The Geek and started reading. It seems that every problem we had was fixed in the 2nd edition. So I was back on eBay and ended up buying the Deluxe boxed set. The one with the Star Trek III Tactical Combat simulator included. I devoured that pretty much as quick as the first box. Sadly though I haven't been able to get the old group back together again for another game, but man did we have fun last time.

I still look forward to running a short campaign in FASA Star Trek, some day. I still can't believe it took me almost 30 years to try out this truly great and classic system.


  1. I only played the RPG once.
    But boy did we play the heck out of that Combat Simulator. Our books were falling apart from over-use. And I think it might have been the "Dragon Lady" that got me into it as well. Great memories

    1. Nice! You know I haven't even read the combat simulator. I flipped through it and decided that if I was going to run 2nd edition again I was going to stick to the original rules. Where each player gets their own console and chits to track things on it. Sure the comm officer only really tracks casualties but there's just something very bridge crew about it that I dug.

      Now Star Fleet Battles I've also gotten into recently and really dug though I think I could use someone who knows the game to teach me how to play ;)

  2. That's a great story of how they had the Star Trek game setup... too bad they didn't let kids playing. Having starting my gaming when I was a kid too, is also the reason I ensure I keep my site PG. bah, maybe we'll have to try that video game some time...

    1. It really was awesome. I wish I had somewhere to do the same set up. It worked so well for Star Trek.

      A lot of people at that club were like that sadly. There were lots of little cliques who only played with the same people every week. Basically all us young 'kids' ended up playing together and the grown ups did their thing. Thankfully most of us kids stuck with it and eventually took the place over and were much more welcoming to anyone and everyone. I was the president of that club for 3 years until it folded due to lack of interest (Magic the Gathering hit and almost everyone jumped to cards)

  3. Playing and immersing myself in the FASA trek universe for about 7 years in the mid-1980s onwards were some of the happiest memories I have to date. I sometimes reminisce about it on my blog..