Just finished GMing the 3 Starter Campaing Missions for my group and here are my thoughts and suggestions on running them. The Starter Campaing was written by Marco Rafalá. All my players are hardcore Star Trek fans, as we all actually met 10 years ago in the local Star Trek fan society. The group was 4 players with 3 Players per Mission due to obligations, one player is a Alpha Tester just as me, another a hardcore tabletop RPG player, one a casual RPG player and one a RPG novice, ages 25-40. We are playing in TNG era, 2371 (or 2370 actually for this starter Campaign)
MISSION I - THE ALCUBIERRE (PCs: Security Chief, Chief Engineer, Ship's Counselor)
The first Mission is fine. The big issue is that the Players are leaving the ship and do not return to it until the end of the Mission. It kinda feels a bit dungeon-crawling, in a bad way. To alleviate this, suggest to the Players to take a few Supporting Characters with them that they can leave on the Shuttle if not needed, but might be useful to have. This Mission also doesn't really have a moral dillema of any sorts. So fix this, at the start of the Missions when the PCs leave the shuttlebay and find a bunch of dead Starfleet Officers in the hallways, have them find one dying Romulan who needs first aid and then treatment in the Sickbay. Maybe he was shot by the Parasitic Romualans after he found out about them. This might be the first hint something is amiss. This can give the Players a short discussion should they leave the Romulan to die or carry him to the sickbay. Also, this Missions has way too many fights. This goes for the entire Starter Campaing. There are 2-3 combat encounters per Mission in the campaing. Way too much and I think it totally skews the feel of Star Trek to be shooting one another all the time. Add to that the Parasites with their 3 Stun Resistance and 2 Recovery, the fights last forever. Not good. I recommend ignoring the Parasite Recovery Talent unless your players all wanna have a 1-2 hour fight every Mission.
MISSION II - WE ARE NOT OURSELVES (PCs: Science Officer, Chief Engineer, Ship's Counselor)
The second Mission went by better. Also, why does every warp travel in this Campaing take a week to get somewhere? It kinda feels a lot, even for the edge of Klingon space. The first part was good, investigating the Klingon outpost. Kinda creepy as they found a bunch of dead Klingons and parasites. The way the backstory is all over the place it took a while to actually figure out what exactly happened and to be able to explain to my players in a non-linear way the entire story. Unless I missed a sidebar, it would be good to have a what actually happened in chronological order for the GM written out. My Players were curious who each of the dead Klingons was and so on. The description of the next Mining Station the Players realized immediately that it was a secret base definitely out of the way of everyone. In the mining station as the Players deactivated the jamming device, I added an overload booby trap. It was an Extended Task to fix it, but the Chief Engineer got 10 Work in a single Task and easily stopped the device from exploding. The players took a Security Team with them this time, so the two Romulan guards engaged the Security Team while the Players snuck around. Again, way to much unavoidable combat. In the final confrontation the combat was more engaging, as there was more space to move around. At this time we were at the 2.5 hour mark, so I was ok with this conflict lasting longer to fill up the time. It was ok and the Players engaged more interestingly with one another. So, I guess the biggest suggestion, note that you can make the fight last if you are running short.
MISSION III - THE PIERCED VEIL (PCs: Security Chief, Science Officer, Ship's Counselor)
The last part and probably the best of the 3. I mostly didn't change much here. The virus infected the ship and the Players went into the Computer Core and Main Engineering to reboot and fix the Computer, they ended up with 2 hours to spare. Another player actually suggested calling the incoming romulan ship after the Computer was fixed and explaing the situation. She succeeded at the Task to convince the Romulan Commander, so they Warbird showed up to help them in act 2. I suggest giving the playing a hint that they can try to contact the Romulans anyway even if they fix the ship on time. At Moana III the players actually created an advantage to search for Cloaked Warbird before the Warbird deacloked. They detected something and debated whether to raise shields or not to give away their hand. The Security Chief had the final say and decided to Raise Shields, at which point the Romulan appaered and fired upon the ship. Now, a complaint. In the Campaing it does not describe what the benefits or dangers of moving into the Asteroid field might be. I think there is some in the CRB, but I didn't have time to look it up as the players went into and the Romualans followed. The Allied Warbird showed up and helped the Players defeat them. The Players Excelsior took a lot of beating, eventually taking 4 Breaches on Structure, and a couple on Computers. (But most of the beating was from the fact that one Player decided to use the Tractor beam to catch an asteroid and sling it at the Romulans. They failed the Task and scored two Complications, yep they rolled two 20s on three d20s. I ruled that as the Astroid actually hitting the PC ship and scoring two breaches.) There was brief discussion on using Torpedoes to disable the enemy engines as the enemy started to flee. The players debated on using a Salvo or single warhead, but choose to be cautious not to destroy the ship. Also, for all the structure hit one PC was hit twice by an injury. (I rolled a d6 5-6 to see if anyone was hit and then again a d6 to randomly pick a PC to get hit) So the PC ended up in Sickbay, but having an Advanced Sickbay allowed the Players to heal the injured PC immediately to participate in the next scene. The players took a shuttle down to the Planet and actually beamed LeSalle up, at this point I used revealsal, since I had 10+ threat, to have to Romualn fire some anti-aircraft weapon to crash the PCs shuttle down. The rest of the Mission went as scripted, but I did skip a bunch of the translation Tasks, since we were already at the 4 hour mark. I just told the Players as we went along what was going on. The final battle thankfully only lasted for two rounds. I had the Commander Avoid Injuries all the time and the Scientists got shot instead. Also, there was a Security Team. I used them as following, essentially 6 men and every time the Enemy scored a hit I didn't roll damage, just had a Security member shot instead. The players even joked as that being their armor, and the Romulan Commander having the scientist as armor also. The end was a bit debate that I shared on reddit already. At the end there is the choice to kill, imprison or make a deal with the parasite queen. Everything was going fine until the players started to debate the choice. The ranking officer wanted to kill the queen while the other two wanted to hand off the decision to the higher ups. This ended up as a 10 minute real life discussion on the merits of all the decision. As the commander pulled out her phaser to kill the queen the master chief chief shot at the cmdr. This was an opposed Task. The security chief sided with the master chief and shot at the cmdr also. They had a security Team so they surrounded all of them unsure who to side with. The cmdr and the security chief ended up with another opposing Task to order the security team. The cmdr won the Task and the security team arrested the security chief and the master chief. Then the cmdr killed the queen. Now I have to decide what to do next, which Character to get punished and which rewarded, reputation gain and what next to happen.
Overall the Starter Campaing Missions are a good way to start a Campaing for sure, even if I do see overly critical of it. My suggestions for GMs and writers of future missions are not to put that much combat in. That is kinda old-school D&D mentallity but this is just plain stupid. You must fight and they do not negotiate, and you must shoot to kill the Parasites and if you suck they recover health every round. Maybe change into more normal Romulans where they can be negotiated with? Also, is there a point of having LaSalle come back for the 3rd Mission? He doesn't do anything at all, my players just arrested him and send him back to the ship. I get the, oh remember that guy, but there is no point in him being here. Also, to note, my players did not get imprisoned in Mission 2 nor did they take live captives to Scene 1 and Scene 3 of Act 1 of Mission 3 we had to skip.
Have any of you ran the Started Campaing? Do you plan on to? What do you think? Do you agree with my assesment? Do you have suggestion on how to improve stuff? Please chime in.