There have been a number of RPGs that have held the official Star Trek license over the years: Modiphius’ Star Trek Adventures (the current rights holder), the 1990s Last Unicorn Games series of books (one game for each TV series), the 1980s Star Trek RPG from FASA, and even the long-forgotten 1978 Heritage Models game Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier.
But much like the endless amount of Star Trek fan fiction stories, there exist a number of unofficial fan-created RPGs set in the Star Trek universe. These are all non-commercial fan works, and as such, are available for free.
There are a lot of homebrew adaptations of Star Trek for various systems all across the web, but this post is deliberately concentrating on completely self-contained games that don’t require any other rule books. If you know of any I missed, please let me know.
This one is a delightful comedic RPG by Jeff Call. The players are the officers of the USS Calamity. They are burdened with serving under Captain LeRoy F. Decker, the worst officer in Starfleet. Decker is an admiral’s son, so they need to keep him alive despite his constant bumbling and incompetence.
This is a light 3-page game that uses the OSR Black Hack system. Players roll under their stats on a D20 to accomplish things. There are also usage dies to keep track of tricorder use, phaser ammo, and Redshirt morale.
A while back, I posted a short scenario for this game.
Redshirt rules: Each player player can bring one or more Redshirts (disposable security officers) on a mission. They can be sacrificed to absorb hits, whenever a player fails a roll. There is however, a Redshirt usage die that is rolled whenever the Redshirts are put in danger. When the Redshirt die drops to zero, the Redshirts will mutiny!
Star Trek: Alpha Quadrant (ST: AQ) is a very professional-looking 160 page book, that uses the Cepheus Engine rules. The Cepheus Engine is an open-source version of the Traveller sci-fi RPG. I’m sure others have tried their hand at making Traveller adaptations of Star Trek, but this is the most extensive one I’ve ever seen.
The whole Cepheus/Traveller career system maps nicely to the idea that players have had long careers in Starfleet.
All the rules you need are here – no other Cepheus Engine books are needed. The book is well illustrated, clearly written, and properly bookmarked. It’s even got rules for converting the old FASA Star Trek materials to ST: AQ.
Star Trek lore: It’s got a clear, extensive history of the Star Trek universe, including a timeline. All of of the major civilizations are described, in just enough detail to be useful. Even if you aren’t interested in the rules, download it just for this.
The Uniforms: There’s a section detailing all of the different uniforms and rank insignia across the Trek timeline. Probably not super-useful for gaming, but interesting.
I was fond enough of this one to design my own fillable ST: AQ character sheet.
I’m talking about these together, since they’re practically the same game. They’re both trying to replicate the original 1960s series.
Where No Man Has Gone Before (WNMHGB), by Michael Berkey is the original version. It uses the Microlite 20 system (simplified old-school D&D). All tests use a d20 (plus stat and skill bonuses) to beat a Difficulty Class. Players are given Action Points, that can be spent to add +5 to attacks or defense, recover hit points, or resurrect dead characters between adventures.
Far Trek (FT), by C.R. Brandon, is a revised version of WNMHGB that uses its own 3d6 system. All tests are rolled with a 3d6 (plus stat and skill bonuses) to beat a Target Number or an opposed roll. Presumably this is less swingy than WNMHGB’s d20 rolls.
FT is a bit more pulpy and cinematic than WNMHGB. Characters don’t have hit points – if they get hit, they make a test with their Strength score to avoid unconsciousness. There is no character death, except when the GM decides it suits the plot. Players also have Fate Points that can be spent to recover from unconsciousness, or re-roll dice.
The differences, however, between the two games, are small compared to the similarities (a lot of the text in FT was pulled directly from WNMHGB). Here’s what they both have in common:
- Classes: Blue Shirts, Red Shirts, Gold Shirts.
- Talents: A long list of special abilities, some general, others class or species specific.
- Starship combat rules, with stats for various Starfleet and alien vessels
- Random generators for planets, creatures, alien devices, and episode plots.
I think I prefer the more streamlined Far Trek system, but they’re both worth looking at for the extra generators and background info.
Technobabble Rules: If a players explains what they’re going to do using complicated Trek-appropriate technobabble, they get a bonus to their next skill roll.
Ripped Shirt Talent: A player with this talent, whenever their clothing is torn, immediately gets a bonus to hand-to-hand combat, just like Kirk did.
TV Ratings: In WNMHGB, there’s an optional rule, that after each adventure, there’s a random roll to see how the ratings for that “episode” was. This can trigger a roll on a table that will change something about the game – i.e. add a sidekick, laugh track, celebrity guest star.
Railroad Bonuses: Also in WNMHGB, there’s a rule where the GM can bribe a player with Action Points, if they agree to just go along with whatever plot the GM has planned. As a GM, I’m not sure this is a good idea, but it’s certainly a tempting one.