Star Trek - A Campaign History

My original Trek campaign was set during the early movie series, between Star Trek, The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The ship was a refitted USS Excalibur NCC-1705. I posited that since the shots of the defeated Excalibur in The Ultimate Computer showed the ship pretty much intact while sensors indicated that the entire crew was dead, the major damage was to the life support systems - perhaps they'd been contaminated by a phaser coolant leak or massive radiation leaks or the like, since death was obviously pretty quick. My campaign backstory posited that the Excalibur had then been used as a test vehicle for the new warp drive systems later fitted to the Enterprise as part of its upgrade after the end of its five-year mission. After the V'Ger incident, the rest of the Constitution class ships were refitted, including the Excalibur, which was then returned to line service.

The early adventure sessions were pretty standard, and little stands out in my memory other than a Vulcan PC being judged insane and institutionalised after one session. The player had taken actions so out of character for that race that I decided not to allow him to have a Vulcan character any more. After a year, I moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Moncton, New Brunswick and the game was relegated to a series of stand-alone sessions with no real continuity. The campaign picked up briefly when I moved back to Halifax the following year, but a job-related move to Ottawa that fall cut it short.

After my move to Ottawa, Ontario (Canada's capital) in September 1985, the Excalibur campaign languished for a year and a half while I reestablished myself in a new city and job. I ran a few adventures, but most of my gaming time was spent playing Traveller and running my Glory Road fantasy campaign using highly modified The Fantasy Trip rules. In the spring of 1987, I restarted the campaign in earnest, setting it just after Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. It rapidly centred itself around two PCs, both Caitians, LCdrs. Myrrissaw and Tomaz "Tom Cat," played by Ken Goodfellow and Ron Fraser respectively. Myrrissaw was the ship's navigator and Tom Cat was the chief engineer. Most of the adventures had a fairly humourous tone, mostly set by the antics of Tom Cat, who once got drunk with Harcourt Fenton Mudd, much to his disadvantage...

Things turned a little darker when I began a multi session adventure centring around a series of gruesome murders of former shipmates of Tom Cat and Captain Toby Perrini, played by Trish Slater. They eventually determined that the killer was the son of an officer killed on a mission which then-LCdr Perrini had commanded, and which Tom Cat and the victims had been on. The setting for the final session was Star Base 21, which would become the Excalibur's home port. I used the diagrams of Starfleet Headquarters from the Franz Joseph Starfleet Technical Manual to detail out Star Base 21. All in all, a very successful campaign! As a sort of an epilogue to the sessions, the ship's security chief, Lt. J.G. Singh turned out to be an agent from the Mirror Universe and murdered the murderer as he was being taken to a rehabilitation colony.

While all this was going on, I was also running a Trek-based merchant campaign centred around V'Shandruu lines, and set in the Triangle, one of FASA's game settings. The owner of the starship line was an Andorian played by David Slater Trish's husband, while his XO, T'aala, was played by Trish. V'Shandruu was a shrewd businessman, but was absolutely paranoid about pirates, especially Orion pirates (and, of course, everyone knows that all Orions are pirates...). T'aala was a sociopathic Vulcan/Romulan hybrid who utterly despised pure-strain Romulans and Vulcans alike. Although their ships (based on FASA's King Richard starliner originally designed for Traveller) were of Federation registry, they tended to operate mostly outside the Federation, where their escort ships had freer rein dealing with suspected pirates bent on hijacking the ships. When they captured a Romulan Bird of Prey (the TOS Romulan ship, not the movie series Klingon ship). Starfleet Intelligence allowed them to keep it, enlisting them as privateers and giving them letters of marque to hunt Orion pirates preying on Federation shipping. If they were ever caught, the Federation would, of course, deny all knowledge of their actions...

Meanwhile, Ken had his own civilian character, an Orion pirate (maybe V'Shandruu was right!). A Human/Orion hybrid, Captain Callista didn't start out as a bloodthirsty sociopath (ever notice how many hybrid characters are so terribly maladjusted?), but she became possessed by a demon. OK, it wasn't really a demon, it was a non-corporeal alien entity like Redjac, but it said it was a demon! Soon after, Callista began losing body parts and having them replaced by bionics - those demons don't just settle for your soul, you know - and picked up the sobriquet Callista the Damned.

In the fall of 1988, Ron moved away, so I posted a notice in a local hobby store looking for players. Boy, did I get a response! Three Engineering students answered. They'd been playing in another campaign which had died, and were looking for a new one. They already had characters; Bruce Playfair played LCdr. Brad McCurrvey, a helm officer; Steve Schneckenberger played LCdr. Thelev, an Andorian engineer; and Dave Isaacs played Khendron Mercer, a science officer. Myrrissaw, now a Commander, was now XO of the ship.

The next major multi-session adventure involved a conspiracy between a right-wing group known as the Brotherhood of Federation Patriots and elements within Starfleet Intelligence to pull a political coup, assassinating the Federation President and framing the Klingon Empire. Along with the Enterprise under James T. Kirk, they foiled the attempt in a climactic session closely resembling the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - over two years before that movie would be released! Did Paramount have a bug in my living room?

The Excalibur was next refitted with Transwarp Drive. Shane Johnson's Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise had included the bridge graphics from STIV, indicating that the new Enterprise-A had Transwarp, so I decided that Starfleet was upgrading the entire fleet. Although credited to Mike Okuda, a senior member of the Star Trek art department, it is likely that Johnson altered the text on the Okudagrams. Gene Roddenberry would later decide that Transwarp was a failed technology - more on that later.

The next batch of adventures was somewhat eclectic. A solo adventure with Ken resulted in Myrrissaw being charged with murder and violation of the Prime Directive. The first charge was dropped, but she was found guilty of the second and cashiered. At the same time, Trish left the game to devote her time to returning to university. The ship was now without a Captain and an XO. Ken created a new character, Captain Sulik, and an NPC became XO temporarily. This was William Robert Riker, an ancestor of Cdr Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was played as a martinet, calculated to thoroughly annoy the PCs. When he'd run his course, McCurrvey was promoted to Commander and made XO.

The ship also gained another NPC, "Dr. John Smith" (yes, it was supposed to be that obvious a pseudonym), a civilian scientist assigned to the ship to oversee a Project Silver Ball. Smith was actually the android Questor from Gene Roddenberry's TV movie The Questor Tapes, a failed pilot for a TV series. Project Silver Ball was based on several comments in FASA adventure modules regarding the mysterious disappearance of several starships and an associated phenomenon resembling a ball of silver light. The Excalibur had previously encountered the phenomenon and thus was a natural for Starfleet to assign to the project.

When a battleship from David Slater's Havenic Imperial Federation campaign crossed over into my Trek game, the Excalibur used the Silver Ball (officially the Quantum Para-Dimensional Transport Device) to return it to its home universe. The Excalibur then embarked on an interdimensional exploration mission which took them to several different movie, TV and gaming universes, including Traveller's Third Imperium, the mining ship Red Dwarf from the show of the same name and the Star Wars universe, where they acquired a new NPC. This was an R-2 astromech droid, which the players dubbed Wesson, and who hung around with the android John Smith. You guessed it... Smith & Wesson. Eventually, they discovered a Mirror Universe fleet gathering to invade the Federation, Lt. Singh (remember him?) having returned home and convinced the Empire that the Federation was ripe for the plucking. The Excalibur managed to avert the invasion at the cost of burning out the Silver Ball and nearly destroying the ship.

About this time, Gene Roddenberry announced that Transwarp was not a continuing part of the Star Trek universe, and that it had been abandoned by the Federation. I'd now been using Transwarp in my game for some time, and I was reluctant to retroactively change my continuity, so I decided that the flaws in Transwarp had only been discovered after its adoption, and Starfleet was retrofitting with the older warp drive. Unfortunately, the Excalibur's spaceframe had been so badly damaged by the interaction between Transwarp fields and the Silver Ball, as well as combat and the general mayhem that any gaming group inflicts on its equipment, and it was scrapped.

While the PCs were between ships, a several of them accidentally stumbled into a situation where they were captured by smugglers who turned out to be involved with the Romulans. A series of questionable decisions and a long string of spectacularly bad die rolls eventually resulted in all of them being killed, or so it seemed at the time. Among the characters lost were Cdr Thelev and LCdr. Mercer. Only one session earlier, it had been revealed that Thelev's wife Thoma was pregnant. Smith, the android, was assigned to another project.

Ken was becoming bored and frustrated with playing Captain Sulik, having decided that a Vulcan character was too restrictive, so Brad McCurrvey was promoted and placed in command of the new USS Excalibur NCC-1705-A. Ken's new character was another Caitian, Lt. Peor, named after Dave and Trish's cat, a black half-Siamese. Peor was the navigator. Steve created Cdr Kevin Jones, the new XO, and Dave Isaacs created LCdr. Janos van Icer, the ship's engineer. A new player, Angus MacLennan was the new helmsman, Lt. Erik Griff, a caninoid.

The new ship had its share of adventures. Lt. Peor died in battle, and Ken created another in his string of Caitian characters. A mission to the time planet accidentally resulted in a changing history - a science team was studying the events during which Myrrissaw had violated the Prime Directive earlier, plotting out the causative factors in the contamination of a protected culture. A shootout with a spy who'd infiltrated the science team resulted in the negation of the original event. When the PCs returned to the Excalibur-A, they found subtle changes. When they got back to Star Base 21, they found Captain Myrrissaw in command of the USS Bonaventure. Capt. Perrini was now captain of the USS Magnificent. Both these ships were, by the way, named after famous Canadian warships.

I'd been kitbashing some of AMT/Ertl's Star Trek models and had come up with a ship I called the USS Kahless NX-K-100. Essentially, it was a Klingon K'T'Inga with a Starfleet bridge and warp engines. I thought it was a pretty nifty looking ship, so I came up with a background for it to incorporate it into the campaign. I had noted that Federation ships didn't use cloaking devices, and that all the ships which did had a flatter planform. I decided that the Federation couldn't get the captured cloaks (from The Enterprise Incident and Star Trek IV) to work on Federation starships (Scotty had only gotten one to work briefly on the Enterprise because, well, he's Scotty!) To ensure that they would work with Federation engines, they attached a pair to a captured K'T'Inga for testing. This, I reasoned, was before the Treaty of Algeron, so they could do it legally under Federation law. So far, so good. Now for a mission...

By this time, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had come out, and there was nominally peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It was the perfect time for a joint mission behind Romulan lines. A joint Starfleet/Klingon crew was put together on the Kahless, and sent through the Triangle to approach Romulan space from the other side. McCurrvey was in command and the other PCs formed the Starfleet half of the command crew. On a whim, I tossed in Wesson, the R-2 unit. After a long voyage, nearly a game year, they discovered that the Romulans were apparently waging a war with an unknown enemy who was conducting a scorched-earth (scorched-romulus?) campaign. The Kahless moved to a system which appeared to be next in line, where they discovered a Romulan science outpost. Slipping in undetected with their cloaking device, they beamed down to the outpost. There, they discovered cryosleep capsules containing a number of Federation, Klingon and other captives, including Thelev and Mercer. They beamed the capsules up to the Kahless.

Unfortunately, the Romulan's enemy showed up at that point and attacked the system. Their sensors were able to penetrate the Kahless' cloak and they targeted the ship. Just as the Kahless went into warp, a massive volley of photon torpedoes detonated near it, combining with the cloaking field and warp field to open a rip in the fabric of subspace (I used the event at Narenrda III in Yesterday's Enterprise as a rationale for this). The Kahless popped out in what they determined to be the Small Magellanic Cloud (and you think Voyager's far away from home), where the Klingons mutinied. As they were too dangerous to keep on board, the Klingons were settled on a planet with no intelligent lifeforms but which was capable of sustaining them. They were supplied with tools and enough food to allow them to get a head start on survival.

Repairing the communications system, which had been damaged by the mutineers, the PCs detected a Starfleet distress call using an obsolete frequency and code. Following it to a system a few parsecs away, they discovered the USS Shi-Kahr, an old Baton Rouge class starship from the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology by Stan and Fred Goldstein. The Shi-Kahr was shut down save for the beacon, and the crew had moved to the surface of the planet below. The Kahless was severely damaged, so McCurrvey transferred his command to the Shi-Kahr. After transferring all the Kahless' antimatter to the Shi-Kahr, the Kahless was destroyed by sending it spiralling into the sun.

With the Shi-Kahr refuelled, its surviving crew and their descendants decided to go along with McCurrvey's plan to return to Federation space. They revived Thelev from cryostasis, since he had worked most closely with Smith on Project Silver Ball, and Wesson had many of the operational details still in memory. They rebuilt the device as best they could, and by trial and error made their way through the multiverse back home. One of the universes they went through was the Star Wars universe, where Wesson left the ship. With a reasonably accurate fix on the Federation from there, they proceeded on. Upon arriving in Federation space, they found that although it had been a little over a year for them, their Silver Ball trips had placed them five years in the future. Thelev finally got to meet his daughter, now over six years old. By that time, the TNG episode Data's Day had aired, so we now knew that there were four partners in an Andorian marriage, so I also introduced Thelev and Thoma's other two spouses for the celebration, at which McCurrvey's fiancee proposed to him.

Now we had too many characters for one ship! Most players had two characters, so I split the two sets. McCurrvey took command of the Excalibur-A, with Thelev as his XO and Mercer as his science officer. Jones, van Icer and Griff joined Myrrissaw on her new command, the Miranda class USS St Roch, named after the RCMP ship which first traversed the Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean (yeah, those Canadian references just keep coming). After several sessions for a shakedown cruise, it was time for the next campaign segment.

Starfleet had detected what appeared to be a stable wormhole, through which was coming a transmission which, though garbled, indicated sapient, technologically advanced life on the other side. The St Roch was assigned to investigate and make first contact. Heading through the wormhole, they found themselves in what appeared to be the Star Wars universe, though when they entered into first contact protocols, the players started to notice a few things wrong... Two Death Stars - Emperor Obi-Wan Kenobi - Lord and Lady Vader, and Lady Vader's consort, Admiral Solo... The Rebellion was in full swing under Senator Palpatine and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, and the original General Ben Kenobi (of whom Obi-Wan, or 0-B-1, was a clone) was a hermit on Tatooine. The PCs were taken prisoner at a state dinner on Death Star I, but escaped with the help of Wesson, who it seems had not been returned to his correct universe but a Mirror version (oops!).

USS St. Roch escorted by four Star Destroyers and a Super Star Destroyer.
Wesson, in Starfleet Operations gold.

Stealing their shuttlecraft from the Death Star's landing bay, they tried to return to the St Roch, only to find that it had escaped an Imperial attempt to capture it. The PCs hooked up with the Rebels and spent several sessions chasing reports of a strange starship throughout the Empire. Along the way, they encountered a young lady named Leia, who actually turned out to be one of the Emperor's proteges, Lady Vader (Lord Vader was her brother, Luke), long lost daughter of Anakin Skywalker. They also gained a new PC, a young Jedi named Juran, played by Iain Twolan.

Eventually regaining the St Roch, the PCs then had to rescue Capt. Myrrissaw, who had been captured. During her rescue, they found that the Klingons had also detected the wormhole, and a trio of K'T'Inga class battlecruisers was operating in concert with Imperial forces. During the climactic battle, they destroyed two of the Klingon ships and lured the third back through the wormhole. The St Roch was badly damaged (what a surprise - I was beginning to feel like Q when James Bond signs out his latest toys!) , but they figured they could launch a photorp back into the wormhole, collapsing it and destroying the Klingon ship. Just as they exited, however, the Klingons fired a torp at them, and there was a brief spasm in the time/space matrix. Suddenly they were in normal space, but not where they were supposed to be. Their drives and weapons were down, and the Klingon ship was charging disruptors when a huge green ship de-cloaked and destroyed it. The ship contacted them just as they figured out their location - the Romulan Neutral Zone. The ship was Romulan, but of completely unfamiliar design. The Romulan commander ordered them to stand down all shields and weapons and escorted them out of the Neutral Zone where the players suddenly realised what type of ship it was! They were met by the USS Galaxy, which meant that the big green Romulan ship was a D'Deridex class Warbird and they were in the 24th century...

The characters, after being debriefed by Starfleet and undergoing technical upgrade courses (being 75 or so years out of date), were assigned to the Intrepid Class starship USS Challenger. Ken left the game, so his character Capt. Myrrissaw retired and Captain Kitara Sundown, a Bajoran/Human hybrid played by Ginger Bower assumed command. The Challenger worked out of Deep Space Nine, exploring the Gamma Quadrant. Eventually, of course, the Dominion took an interest in the Challenger and replaced Capt. Sundown with a Founder, also played by Ginger. When Ginger left the game, the ruse was discovered and the Founder was killed in the ensuing struggle. The Challenger began searching the Gamma Quadrant to find where the real Capt. Sundown was being held, but were called back to defend Earth against the Borg - see Star Trek: First Contact for details of the Borg attack. Ken was once again available, so Capt. Myrrissaw came out of retirement to command the ship. When the Borg Cube was defeated and the Enterprise-E pursued the Borg Time Sphere into the temporal rift, the Challenger was the only other ship to follow. However, several Borg had beamed into engineering and a pitched battle was in progress. At the same time that Data was informing Picard that the population of Earth was "Nine billion - all Borg," the Challenger lost all power due to damage to an EPS conduit in engineering, and the Challenger was trapped in an alternate Borg infested universe, with no Federation. In this universe, a Romulan/Klingon/Cardassian alliance was about to engage in an attack on Borg occupied space, and the Challenger joined the alliance.

Unfortunately, at that time the game broke up and the Challenger didn't get a chance to return home until the summer of 1999, when I managed to get a couple of the players together and finish the scenario.

In 1998, Last Unicorn Games acquired the Star Trek RPG license. I was in the beginning stages of designing my Star Trek: Relic campaign, so I took a look at these new rules and was impressed enough to switch to their system. The success of the Relic campaign inspired me to re-start the Star Trek: Challenger campaign and and led to an amalgamation of the various aspects on my Star Trek gaming efforts under the overall Star Trek: Universe metacampaign.

The Relic campaign ran again for a year, then faltered due to various personal and professional commitments, but the old Excalibur gaming group eventually got back together and created a fresh batch of characters who began exploring the mysteries of the Dyson Sphere.

Details of the latest adventures in my Star Trek: Universe campaign can be found in the Campaign Chronology section of this site. Over the past decade+, I've continuously updated and revised the site. The current iteration is the Cretok Nor campaign, which sees the same characters from the Relic campaign assigned to the Defiant class USS Rising Sun in the aftermath of the Dominion War, using the history from Star Trek Online's "The Path to 2409" as a continuing backgraound.

This page ©2000, 2001, 2012 Owen E. Oulton