As a devoted Star Wars fan, I used to believe you couldn’t like both Star Wars and Star Trek at the same time. You had to pick one, I thought. Now, however, I’ve seen the error of my ways and there is room in my heart for two great science fiction franchises. Eventually, it was through my love of Star Trek that I was first introduced to the world of role-playing games. Read today’s blog post to find out about this newbie’s first RPG!
I had never played any sort of RPG before in my life until my friend Mike gave me a surprise gift: the book for Captain’s Log, a solo version of the Star Trek Adventures role-playing game. He thought it would appeal to me, considering my background as a creative writer and my newfound identity as a Trekkie. Immediately, I wanted to create my character and start playing, but I didn’t know much—if anything—about how these sorts of games work.
I read through parts of the book and had Mike explain anything that wasn’t clicking with me. Eventually, I got the idea of what I was supposed to do, and he walked me through the character creation process. I decided to base my character on one I had originally created for a fanfiction story I never finished. Using her original backstory I came up with for my fanfiction as a starting point, I selected her character traits, her assignment on a starship, and her areas of expertise. For any curious readers out there, Trek fans or otherwise: my character, Lieutenant Hoffman, is a Next Generation-era Starfleet science officer with an interest in cybernetics.
Now, the fun part—gameplay! This was what I was really looking forward to. Since it’s a solo RPG, I write out the entire thing in a text format. I opened Google Docs and began composing Hoffman’s log entry to start the game. As the story unfolded, I used dice rolls to make decisions and move the plot along. This part took some getting used to, because as a creative writer, I’m accustomed to deciding every single plot twist and turn in my head, whereas in the RPG environment you have to let the dice make the decision for you.
Role-playing isn’t that different from creative writing—especially if your preferred method of creative writing is to make everything up as you go along. That’s not how I like to write. I’d rather have everything planned out ahead of time. Still, my strong point has always been dialogue, so my favorite part of the process so far has been coming up with what Lieutenant Hoffman and the supporting cast of characters say to one another. My current campaign has her visiting a cyberneticist, who was once her mentor, on the starbase where he is stationed. He wants her to see the sentient automatons he’s been tasked with refurbishing, but when the doctor is away the synthetics come out to play, and Hoffman is left to deal with a dangerous android fugitive.
Captain’s Log is intended to be a solo RPG, but it can also be played with others as Star Trek Adventures. When my friend Mike started getting me into the game, he envisioned a whole group of players coming together to expand upon our solo games, playing as our individual characters in a shared environment like your typical group campaign. We haven’t done this yet, but I’m looking forward to when it happens!
While my experience with RPGs is currently limited to Captain’s Log, I’m hoping to try out some more games in the future. It’s an area of geek culture I wasn’t exposed to growing up, but when it comes to trying new things, there’s no time like the present. There’s a whole universe of RPGs that await! To quote my favorite Starfleet captain, Jean-Luc Picard: “Let’s see what’s out there.”
Annie Coben is a writer, singer, cosplayer, and all-around geek girl from New Jersey. When she isn’t at a comic con, you can find her playing guitar, working on her manuscript, or watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her all-time favorite genre is sci-fi. As a self-described “part-time space princess,” she is a member of the Star Wars costuming group, the Rebel Legion, where she dresses up as Princess Leia. For more from Annie, check out her cosplay-themed Instagram account, @anniedroid_cosplay