We’re undoubtedly living in exciting times. For all that has changed in the past few years, and all that we’ve endured, it is interesting that fans are living through a new golden age of Star Trek, and a resurgence of RPGs.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with that acronym, RPG stands for “role-playing games,” and for most of the world, that immediately conjures the Dungeons & Dragons franchise of dice and book adventures.
In some ways, this renaissance of RPGs and Star Trek are related, as many of the actors from Discovery — including Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, and Noah Averbach-Katz get together to play D&D over Zoom.
There are a few things that might be even cooler than crusading with wizards and archers. One of them is certainly exploring strange new worlds with your friends, who happen to be Vulcans and Androids. Yes, there is a world of Star Trek RPGs out there, and they are just as fun and consuming as their shield and sword cousins.
A company named Modiphius Entertainment is creating adventures that you and your friends can take up in the Star Trek Universe. There are a bunch of great ones, written by some incredibly talented folks.
We caught up with one of those writers, a gentleman by the name of Fred Love, who gave us a little background on himself, Trek RPGs and how he was able to write for this franchise that he’s loved and played for so many years.
TREK REPORT: Tell us a little bit about yourself:
FRED LOVE: I live in Ames, Iowa, where I work as a communications specialist for Iowa State University. In my day job, I write news articles about the tremendous amount of valuable scientific progress that gets made at Iowa State. My wife, Liz, works as a fourth-grade teacher at a local public elementary school. Liz and I have two children.
TREK REPORT: Give us the very basics of Role-Playing Games:
FRED LOVE: Tabletop RPGs are a way of making up an exciting story with a group of friends. These games have rules that provide a framework for how the story takes shape, but no one at the table knows exactly what’s going to happen until you sit down and play.
Whenever someone makes a decision where the outcome is uncertain — for instance swinging a sword at a goblin or firing a phaser at a Romulan — we usually roll dice to determine what happens. It’s an incredibly fun and rewarding hobby and a great excuse to spend time goofing off with friends.
TREK REPORT: How did you get into role playing games to begin with?
FRED LOVE: I think most people get into role playing games through Dungeons & Dragons, which is far and away the best-known tabletop RPG. But that’s not the path I took.
I got into RPGs specifically to play Star Trek, which has been my biggest pop culture devotion since I was a child. I bought a copy of the Star Trek RPG produced by Last Unicorn Games when I was in junior high, never having played an RPG before.
I just knew that if there was a way to experience my own adventures on the final frontier, this was a hobby I should pursue. In the years since, I’ve played a couple different editions of D&D and Call of Cthulhu and various other games. But Star Trek was what started it all for me.
TREK REPORT: How did your enjoyment of RPGs turn into creating them?
FRED LOVE: When Modiphius Entertainment announced they were going to playtest a new game called Star Trek Adventures, I was immediately desperate to write for the game.
I sent an e-mail to a generic contact form on the Modiphius website, not really expecting that I would hear back. But I got a response explaining they were looking for adventure scenarios and that I should send a pitch for their consideration.
To my astonishment, the editor accepted my pitch, and that became the scenario “Biological Clock,” which was published in the first adventure compendium for the game.
In addition to Star Trek Adventures, I’ve written for a couple forthcoming products in Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu and Pulp Cthulhu lines. And I’ve contributed to Tiny Supers for Gallant Knight Games and the new Talisman Adventures Fantasy Roleplaying Game from Pegasus.
- I’ve also written some self-released products on the Dungeon Masters Guild for D&D — Treasures of the High Forest and The Womford Bat
- And some self-released products on the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu
I’ve also been very fortunate to receive additional offers to write for Star Trek Adventures. To date, I’ve written for four books in the Star Trek Adventures line, with another on the way later this year. I also got to write a PDF adventure scenario for STA called “Back to Reality.”
TREK REPORT: When did you have your First Contact with Star Trek
FRED LOVE: I was in kindergarten in the early 1990s, just as The Next Generation was really taking off. I’d seen Star Wars and some other sci-fi films as a youngster and had a budding interest in weird-looking aliens and spaceships. TNG just absolutely blew me away and remains my favorite series to this day. I loved the characters and the stories, but also the verisimilitude of the universe.
I got the sense that this was a real place that existed completely independent of whether I tuned in to watch or not. My mom kept all the Playmates toys and action figures I collected back then, and I have them set up on display in my basement.
I remember our local ABC affiliate ran new episodes of TNG on Saturday evenings, but also did reruns of TOS on Friday nights. So, I was getting my first exposure to TNG and TOS simultaneously and just devouring everything I could find even remotely related to Star Trek. That passion for Star Trek continues right up to the present day.
TREK REPORT: How did you get into the Star Trek RPGs?
FRED LOVE: My first exposure was the TNG and DS9 core rulebooks from Last Unicorn Games during my junior high years. Probably around 1999 or 2000. I had to convince a few other friends to play with me, and I don’t think any of us had ever played an RPG before. We just had to figure it out as we went.
TREK REPORT: Can you give us a little background on the Trek RPGs that are out there?
FRED LOVE: There have been a bunch of Star Trek RPGs over the decades, and I haven’t played all of them. Many are familiar with the old Star Trek game published by FASA in the 1980s.
I’ve never actually played it, but I collect a lot of those books and boxed sets because I love the old-school art, and I like to harvest ideas from them. Several years ago, I interviewed Guy McLimore, one of the early designers of FASA Trek, for the RPG website Enworld
After FASA, the company called Last Unicorn games got the Trek license and produced a big range of rulebooks and supplements. This was the version that introduced me to the game, and I have nearly every product released in that game line.
The license then passed to a company called Decipher, which also made a Star Trek card game. This version of the game was pretty similar to Last Unicorn Games and involved many of the same people.
However, I think Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes D&D, bought Decipher and discontinued the Star Trek license. The Trek RPG scene stayed quiet for a number of years until Modiphius launched Star Trek Adventures, the current iteration, about four years ago.
That’s not a complete list of every Star Trek RPG ever produced, but those are the ones I’m most familiar with.
TREK REPORT: What kinds of projects are you working on?
FRED LOVE: Modiphius recently announced a forthcoming Star Trek sourcebook that focuses on the Shackleton Expanse, which is an uncharted region of the Beta Quadrant where the game’s living campaign takes place.
That book will release in 2021, and I got to write some content for that.
I’ve also got an unannounced Star Trek Adventures project in the works that I don’t think I can talk about yet.