Star Trek 1143: Star Trek Deep Space Nine Roleplaying Game

A Gaming Week begins with an RPGs That Time Forgot... / Star Trek Daily Reviews crossover!

1143. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Roleplaying Game
Tag line: The Frontiers of the Federation
Makers: Last Unicorn Games, 1999

What is it?
A full-color, hardcover self-contained RPG based on Star Trek DS9. Last Unicorn's original Star Trek game was based on TNG, but they also produced alternative core books based on TOS and DS9, repeating the rules, but introducing a different feel, graphics and example stats in each of them. In the DS9 version, though you probably have access to a support ship, your characters inhabit a station on the frontier (it doesn't have to be DS9).

Neat stuff
-Though the focus in on the Bajoran system, the game describes or suggests a number of interesting frontiers to set your game in. The Gamma Quadrant, the DMZ and the Neutral Zone are obvious, but what about the Federation's borders with the Tholians, Gorn or - eep! - Borg space? One of the nice things about Last Unicorn is that they weren't afraid to stray off canon and fill in the world's blanks. Consequently, there's also an original mining base described in the mix, as well as the 8 other Deep Space stations. Any of them could serves as a launching point for your series.
-This is a game that works with species templates and profession overlays. DS9 adds Bajorans, Cardassians, Ferengi, Klingons and Trill (with neat special rules about their different hosts' abilities), as well as professions like merchants, smugglers, pirates, spies, politicians, rebels and clergy. You can mix Starfleet in there, but the game allows you to play very much outside the usual Federation playground.
-Niners will find great joy in the stats for their favorite DS9 characters, hero ships like the Defiant, and enemy races from the Jem'Hadar and Changelings to the Prophets and Pah-Wraiths.
-Generally better looking and better organized than its older cousin, the TNG Core Book.

Bad stuff
-Though I appreciate that they rewrote most of the copy to match the tone of DS9, there's still an awful lot of redundancy between this Core Book and the TNG and TOS Core Books. May be annoying to those who were buying every Star Trek RPG product.
-When comparing the templates, it would seem the Starfleet characters have more points in their builds, which hardly seems fair. Though on paper, it may seem realistic (Starfleet is better trained), Star Trek series should be about the very best crews out there. Are Kira and Odo really less competent than Riker and Worf? No, I don't think so. You may want to adjust the values yourself.
-The included adventure by Robin Laws is a good one, but seems out of place. After going to all that effort to differentiate this game from the other lines, we get a Starfleet diplomacy mission that will be difficult to adapt to your Maquis or Ferengi pirate campaign.
-The shade of gold usec for paragraph titles is rather soft, which makes flipping through the book to look for something a difficult endeavor. Nothing jumps out at you. When the color is use in boxed text with the same color background, it makes things hard to read.

"Romance scenarios, from the faux Highland variety produced on the Caldos colony to the racier 'Vulcan Love Slave II' holonovel, fnid audiences among a broad spectrum of holosuite enthusiasts."

How I've used it
I haven't. By the time I bought it, our Star Trek campaign had collapsed. I guess I just like Deep Space Nine a lot. Were I to start things over, I would definitely use the DS9 core book over the TNG one. First, it's better organized. Second, I've learned a few things about SETTING since then, and a less homogeneous base is more interesting to me than a nomadic show. At the very least, the repetition of the core rules makes one of the books a serviceable "Player's Handbook" the group can look things up in.

In conclusion
Last Unicorn may have made a mistake in splitting their game into three separate lines. I wonder if a single core rule book and series-centric supplements, all coming out soon after, might not have been a better way to go, with a more unified identity on store shelves. Maybe we might have seen the really cool boxed sets that were announced but never released before the game collapsed. The Cardassian and Klingon sets were especially missed. And there was only really two other products specifically labeled for DS9 - a GM's Screen and a Raiders, Renegades & Rogues sourcebook. That's just too bad.

You can find additional material and previews for some of the books at the Memory Icon website.


F. Douglas Wall said...

Perhaps they saw the difficulty as well, so when they (it was much the same staff) designed the Decipher Trek RPG, they made it a bit more generic.

ThriceGreatMe said...

"By the time I bought it, our Star Trek campaign had collapsed."

Maybe you should just reboot the entire campaign by recasting the GM and players with younger and sexier versions of yourselves.

Siskoid said...

That would help with my real life as well.


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