Review: Star Trek Adventures – Gamma Quadrant
The latest supplement to expand Star Trek Adventures’ galaxy of delights doesn’t bring quite the same selection of new options and gear as its predecessors, but it more than makes up for this with brand new ways to play the game. In the Gamma Quadrant supplement, the Federation goes to war.
If you’re already familiar with the TV series, this probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. The only show to have any real dealings with the region was Deep Space Nine, and about half its runtime was dominated by just one topic – the Dominion War.
This conflict dominates much of the book and even demands a slight leap forward in time so that everything can (more or less) align with canon. This tight focus is great for making things feel nicely cohesive, but it does come with a downside.
Put it this way. You could pick up the Alpha and Beta Quadrant supplements and easily find a way to drop most of their new rules, cultures and ideas into any Star Trek Adventures game going. If you want to make real use of the Gamma Quadrant supplement, however, you’re probably going to have to shape an entire campaign around it.
This might not be a bad thing, though.
War (Uh) What is it Good For?
In the tangled fiction of the Star Trek universe, the Dominion War represented a major shake-up to the established norms. It ripped up the status quo and forced crews from across the galaxy to confront horrible new realities and dive into situations undreamed of just a couple of years before.
Tragic? Yes. Useful? Also yes.
It’s not too hard to apply these same concepts to your own home games. With a bit of work the ideas sketched out in the Gamma Quadrant supplement can up-end an existing campaign, or allow you to kick off a new one that’s guaranteed to feel distinct from any you’ve run before.
Rather than the usual cycle of anomalies, diplomatic sparrings and rogue aliens, a crew might find themselves leading an attack on a Dominion shipyard, or sent to rescue survivors of a wrecked ship stuck behind enemy lines. There are even some rather well-written suggestions on sending the players through the wormhole that links known space to the Gamma Quadrant, whether they’re carrying out a spying mission or simply exploring.
This is all supported by a hefty slice of background information that makes up more than half of the book’s slim 120 pages. It’s detailed stuff and decently well-written, though it does fall into the same strangely contradictory ground where the people it appeals to the most – devoted Star Trek fans – probably have most of the details already memorised. Still, even if you know most of the bare bones and raw facts, the Gamma Quadrant supplement does a good job of flagging up potential roleplaying hooks.
The Rules of War
Of course, alongside the roleplaying comes a raft of mechanical options. The vast majority of fresh choices open to players come in the form of new species, most of which are thoroughly obscure but also solidly entertaining. Several of these should be approached with caution, as they’re a little tricky to integrate into a regular game without some minor bending of canon. However, there’s plenty on hand to gin up some weird, Gamma Quadrant-raised crewmates if you want to.
Beyond that, the remaining handful of new rules-relevant material is devoted to new ships and NPCs. It’s fine; nothing spectacular but also nothing obviously broken or pointless.
Honestly, the lack of anything too important in the new crunch you could probably throw together a campaign based around the Dominion War just fine with the core Star Trek Adventures rulebook and a trawl of wiki entries. If you did, though, you’d be missing out on an incredible useful little guide and countless little nuggets of inspiration.
The Gamma Quadrant supplement isn’t the most flexible book to have come out so far, but it’s arguably one of the most exciting. If you’ve been playing Star Trek Adventures for a couple of years now and want a way to spice up your game, this is just what you need.
If you’ve been looking to shake up your Star Trek Adventures campaign, look no further than this