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The Starfleet Way

posted Jun 14, 2018 03:42:31 by PatHenry
I am developing a playtest scenario that is a mashup of Star Trek and Aliens—in other words, the set up in Aliens as responded to by Starfleet officers. Obviously, there is one particular way to handle this situation (“Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”) that is not the Star Trek way (“No Kill I”). My question is, how might one best enforce the genre, so that a Starfleet solution is arrived at?

Additionally, in any campaign there are always several ways to do a thing, and sometimes very smart and efficient ways, but also the Starfleet way—the extra step, the extra precaution, the circumspect solution, the extra dose of compassion. That’s not always the smartest or most efficient solution, but it should be rewarded because it is the essence of Star Trek and what distinguishes it. Is that an “above and beyond the call of duty” milestone, or is there a more potent and direct way of enforcing the genre?
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18 replies
Deadmanwalking said Jun 14, 2018 04:42:07
Uh...I'm not at all convinced that mindless murdering monsters, especially ones designed as a bioweapon who wiped out their creators (which a Starfleet Crew will figure out), will provoke Starfleet to any different response than orbital bombardment.

I mean, you can change things so that's no longer the obvious solution (ie: make the aliens intelligent, or necessary to the local ecosystem rather than a bioweapon), but really most of those just result in a planet wide quarantine rather than anything super clever.
Elijah said Jun 14, 2018 09:45:53
You can add Directives and have an Admiral tell the players that the Planer must be saved, maybe there is something super valuable on the planet and cannot be nuked. Make it clear to the Players that they must come up with a different solution or they will all be court-martialed and lose Reputation. Maybe if they nuke the Planet, another planet will starve to death cause of an instability in the ecosystem. If they still do it, demote all the PCs and lower their Reputation.
PatHenry said Jun 14, 2018 15:18:28
Uh...I'm not at all convinced that mindless murdering monsters, especially ones designed as a bioweapon who wiped out their creators (which a Starfleet Crew will figure out), will provoke Starfleet to any different response than orbital bombardment.

Well, I think it is pretty clear that the creatures *were* intelligent, and remarkably resourceful and organized, and therefore something that can perhaps be bargained with. There was a moment where the mother creature was willing to consider a detente in order to protect her eggs... before they were roasted. So it's not a stretch to consider a less vengeful exit and solution than annihilation.

Thanks for the advice, Elijah.
PaulNewland said Jun 15, 2018 18:33:10
I did this very same thing but in comic form. If you want to check out my approach check out Angels of Acheron on YouTube and maybe the sequel story Shadow Puppets. You have throw in extra stuff in to account for Trek Tech but it has great potential as a concept.
[Last edited Jun 15, 2018 18:34:03]
TimKellogg said Jun 15, 2018 18:45:56
OK - so alter the bugs to have telepathic control by the Queen, and make the queen the one the crew has to deal with. Alter the shape/specifics of the bugs so that it doesn't appear to be a direct clone. How about a new queen just travelled through space (YOU get to figure that out) and just established a hive on a Federation colony, and the colonists call for help, or even more limited on a ship that picked up some samples (eggs) on a planet with a crashed ship dah dah dah. Remember the Aliens were built for their story, and so need to be altered to better fit a Star Trek universe, IMHO. To be honest, this is sounding more like the Borg. But, there is nothing saying you cannot use your creativity to alter the story enough to make it more like a Star Trek story. Perhaps, the queen does not realize the humans (Or whatever) are sentient. If you go with the bug needs host to hatch an egg thing, then it is a pretty big give away.
PatHenry said Jun 15, 2018 19:06:05
Yes; thanks for the comments. I’m mostly doing this because I think it will thrill the players. They’ll instantly recognize the situation and start responding to it—and I’d like their response to by a Trekky one. Ultimately, I’d like to run it at a con, because it would make a great one-off with minimal back story. I’d really like the setup to be a non-coercive one, so that they’re not under threat of court-martial or a hot-breathed admiral or anything but make their decisions because they’re committed to the goals of the Federation to find win-wins. I think a Directive that the station must be kept intact is a good one—that was a directive in the original, too, but that got cast aside :)

Starship needs to be called off for some reason, so there’s some sense of isolation and dread and limited resource. I don’t know that the Aliens themselves need to be altered that much—we really don’t know all that much about them aside from their tenacity and viciousness, but nothing about their breeding habits suggest _human_ hosts need to be part of it. So there’s that, perhaps. And who knows, perhaps there’s an ultimate butterfly at the end of all their nasty cocoons.

I was thinking about Kirk’s response to the Horta. And about Kirk’s response to the Salt Vampire. I think there was even less cause to kill the latter than the former—each were the last of their kinds—but both were Star Trek solutions, and were ultimately OK. But one solution shines.
PaulNewland said Jun 15, 2018 19:18:00
I went for a very traditional, missing science team on LV426, plot. The atmosphere of the planet makes transporters inoperable, like the Nostromo, a breach in any damage to the integrity of the outpost would be very dangerous. Plus the alien lair is outside somewhere, so throw in a kidnap.
jonrcrew said Jun 15, 2018 19:25:50
Personally, I think this is an idea with a lot of potential, and there is canon precedent: the Hirogen were a Trek version of the Predators...

I don't think you need to modify them that much and if you want to avoid the "nuke from orbit" scenario: a - remind them of Starfleet principles (even a non-sentient predatory species deserves to survive - the Borg were a subject of much debate), and b - make sure there's a threatened population on the world - it's never touched on in the show, but bombardment with antimatter weaponry will result in huge amounts of gamma radiation (much more than from a fission bomb) and a hefty nuclear winter. The planet would become uninhabitable.

Starship needs to be called off for some reason

You could always put them on a small vessel or a shuttlecraft. If you want the real Alien feel, put them in Transport Command/Merchant Marine and then they're the entire crew of a freighter - all the ingenuity and moral imperatives of Starfleet, with none of the equipment or weaponry!
PatHenry said Jun 15, 2018 19:30:48
Very cool. I'll check it out. I think it's important that the colonists or scientists are cocooned and still alive, so there are some stakes involved in going in too hot. And, obviously, some kind of ticking clock that keeps Starfleet from dithering and dawdling. I am thinking of sending along as a supporting character the only "expert" available on these critters—a certain PTSD-rattled Bajoran ensign, Ro Ripley.
PaulNewland said Jun 15, 2018 19:54:01
Yeah you need a Trek plot device to upskill the PCs to same level of knowledge as the players. But also bear in mind that the xenomorphs absorb DNA from their hosts. That opens up a lot of potential curveballs. Klingon aliens, Gorn aliens, Horta aliens?
PatHenry said Jun 15, 2018 20:05:31
Hadn't thought of that, Paul. Great stuff. You're right that it is the surprise curveballs and complications that will ignite too predictable of a scenario.
[Last edited Jun 15, 2018 20:06:31]
PaulNewland said Jun 15, 2018 22:29:41

PaulNewland said Jun 15, 2018 22:43:34

briandavion1982 said Jun 16, 2018 06:23:58
One thing to consider is just because they're intelligent doesn't mean they can be negotiated with. I mean not being an expert on Aliens the best I could find from their motives is the typicaly animal oens of "survive and propagate"

given HOW the species reproduces I can't imagine there being much room for negotiation "hey let us go and we'll send you 15 klingons to put face huggers on!" isn't exactly something star fleet'd do.

Now even without the Nuke the site from orbit, a less extreme and very star fleety solution would be just to put a bouy in the system putting it off limits to people, Ala Talos IV

Now my thought on the situation is that the easiest solution is not to have "just returning to their ship" be an option, have them not have the option, perhaps they where taking the shuttle somewhere and crashed. And the goal is to SURVIVE until their ship can retrive them.

Another idea is to put them on another ship where they need to retrive some important doo hicky "sure there is aliens out to kill us all but we need to retrive this ancestral batleth from the klingon ship to prove to an influential Klingon councelor whose a little leery of the Alliance that we're friends"

PaulNewland said Jun 16, 2018 13:48:53
Xenomorphs don't really have much in the way of ecology. With the exception of a queen, they would not need a long life span. You just want them to live long enough to decimate your enemies and then die off. They don't appear to feed as adults, usually kidnapping victims for the larval stage, although they may feed on chemical compounds produced by their acid or by their saliva breaking down matter.

It makes sense since you want the larvae to produce enough adults to kill the population and then die off, leaving the planet ripe for colonisation. You might even be able to prime the eggs to target a particular species.
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