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Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook $20.00
Publisher: Modiphius
by Cynthia C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/15/2023 11:21:43

I'm just about positive there's a terrific game buried in here under all the ... stuff ... but I'm not used to having to put this much effort into finding it. Every part of this game is a confused mess.

I've been gaming for decades and at this point I can pick up a new action resolution system in a couple of minutes. Not this time. I kept finding myself having to flip back and forth across the same handful of pages, mentally juggling the game's different metacurrencies, constantly running into terms that were crucial to understanding what I was reading but which wouldn't be discussed at all until pages later. I had to search around to find tutorials, and then COMPARE those tutorials to each other, just to get a grasp of the basic system.

It's probably very easy to learn if someone teaches it to you instead of you having to learn it for yourself. The system doesn't actually seem that complicated! The problem here starts and ends with BAD WRITING: a jumble of concepts presented in the wrong order. I felt like I wasn't reading a published game system, but the scattered notes and post-its of a gamemaster's homebrew system, typed up in random order. Where was the editor!?

This isn't even getting into how much fluff there is. Now, under most circumstances fluff is a good thing, particularly when a game is designed for narrative play (which a competent Star Trek game would need to be). In-universe quotes and documents are also a good thing, and make fantastic sidebars. But the book goes way overboard here; entire chapters are devoted to nothing but those sidebars! No actual text! Even the chapter on the UFP is written from an in-universe perspective, and assumes that you're already familiar enough with the setting that you only need an orientation on where in the established timeline the game is set.

If you could actually learn about the Star Trek universe from these sidebars, then maybe it could be salvageable. Paranoia XP pulled it off. But I read these things, and they're largely incomprehensible unless you not only know Star Trek but recognize the specific episodes they're referring to. This is not a world background chapter. This is trivia night. If you're not already familiar with the universe -- and yes, that's entirely possible, I know a few people who'd be happy to play an RPG of interstellar diplomacy and scientific discovery but who've never seen a single hour of Star Trek -- it's absolutely no help.

On top of everything else, the only way to get an actually readable copy of this book is to buy it on DriveThruRPG as a print-on-demand. The generally available book is printed in white text on black because that "looks more like an LCARS screen." Puts me in mind of an RPG called ... was it Secrets of Zir'an? ... where the game was perfectly fine but they chose to use a page background of glyphic text. Printing text on top of text. It was flavorful, sure, but it made the book unreadable and the game unplayable. The retail Star Trek Adventures books aren't that bad, but there have been so many reports of eyestrain that it's very clear the publisher put form over function.

Finally, there's the elephant in the room. I don't care about the drama. What I care about is that the fandom insisted that a certain person not be involved in the book, and Modiphius not only still got that person involved but actively lied to its fans, listing that person under a pseudonym, and the person responsible showed absolutely no remorse. That's a level of contempt for your customers that's pretty much unforgivable, especially these days when there are people way worse than that guy still getting plenty of work in the RPG industry.

For all of these readability and usability issues, I'm awarding this book two stars. I want to be clear I'm not writing a negative review of the GAME SYSTEM. If you can find someone to teach it to you, so you only need to use the book for reference and browsing, you'll probably have a ball with it. But this book needs a new edition, pronto, with a new graphic designer, a new writer, and a new editor.

[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
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