Day 9: #RPGaDay 2018 – “Surprise”

Week 2: How…? Prompt: How has a game surprised you?

It has been a long time since a game has flat out surprised me by itself. Play is always full of surprises, but I don’t get too many eyebrow lifts from reading games anymore. Mostly reading games gets my curiosity buzzing and demanding satisfaction.

As I considered posing this question in RPGaDay for this year, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to answer it. Would I talk about great art, a clever setting twist, or something like a sudden reversal of opinion…? I just wasn’t sure.

Fortunately for Day 9 of #RPGaDay 2018, I started playing Modiphius’ Star Trek Adventures. It had a few surprises in store for me, but the one I want to type about was how it used an unusual way of portraying characters to significantly enhance the feel of Star Trek.

Jacket and Tie Required

As an old hand at employing troupe still play to add depth and fullness to a campaign, that aspect of Star Trek Adventures did not surprise me. What did was how the system represents competency and reinforces it through Difficulty, Improvement, and Promotion.

On television, the competency of Trek characters is clear. In RPGs, due to the tradition and expectation of advancement or improvement this has typically been lost as that is usually portrayed in a 0 to hero fashion. Not so in Star Trek Adventures. In this game, competency is portrayed more as areas of focus we are paying attention to for this “episode” and as the campaign progresses, that focus will vary.

Likewise, promotion has been coupled with reputation among the crew and with the brass rather than reaching a set of traits or buying an upgrade. It is capable of increasing and of being reduced – all independent of the characters’ skill competency. What you do and are seen to do is what matters. Think of all those threats to Kirk’s command!

Difficulty and how it is determined plays a strong role in this sense of competence as we note what each gradation means and how much is expected of an officer at even its lowest ratings.

All of these elements seemed interesting when read, but when they began to affect play immediately, and contribute to the positive feedback loop of fun play set in motion by the players’choices and willingness to employ their Tell lore the rest was… Fascinating~


We boldly go into double digits tomorrow with a daring question: How has gaming changed you?


This is the second week of the fifth iteration of the monthly roleplaying gaming celebration launched by Autocratik for all forms of social media. Share your responses however you prefer to share. If you want to get involved, grab and share the infographic with the prompts and jump right in!

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