Star Trek role-playing game (FASA)

Star Trek role-playing game (FASA)

infobox RPG
title= Star Trek
subtitle= The Role Playing Game

designer= Guy McLimore,Greg Poehlein, David Tepool
publisher= FASA
date= 1982 "(1st edition)"
1983 "(2nd edition)"
genre= Science fiction ("Star Trek")
system= Custom

"Star Trek: The Role Playing Game" is a role-playing game set in the fictional "Star Trek" universe published and edited by FASA Corporation from 1982 to 1989.


"Star Trek: The Role Playing Game" was principally set on board starships in the United Federation of Planets Star Fleet. Most player characters were assumed to be members of Star Fleet, engaged in space exploration missions. They typically held senior posts on a starship bridge, and visited alien planets as part of landing parties.

For the most part, the game's published supplements and modules were set in the "original crew" movie era (a.d 2280/90s), but a few were set in the original TV era (2260s) or a century later in the "Next Generation" era (a.d 2360/70s). See Official Supplements by era below.

Because of the simplicity of the game's structure, all of the supplements, regardless of their "era", could be easily re-set to suit a different era.

FASA "Trek" vs. "canon" "Trek"

FASA designed their "Star Trek" game universe nearly five years before "" ("TNG") (1987-1994) was first broadcast. The game's designers built their "game universe" when there was no official canon, and they borrowed heavily from ideas in the "Star Trek" original series, the "Star Trek" animated series, fan fiction, and the works of the late "Star Trek" novelist John M. Ford.

Game elements which either were never introduced into what later became canon "Star Trek", or which differ significantly from how canon "Star Trek" presents them, include:

;John M. Ford's KlingonsIn one of the game's most dramatic departures from what would become canon, Ford's interpretation of Klingons placed them in a paranoid society, split into "Imperial" Klingons, "human-fusion" Klingons and "Romulan-fusion" Klingons, the latter two groups created through genetic engineering. They had sophisticated nomenclatures, a Klingon Emperor, "thought admirals" and an afterlife known as the "Black Fleet." Their homeworld was "Klinzhai".

Ford's Klingons believed that the naked stars remember acts of courage performed under them, as this poem suggests:

:"And though I had slain a thousand foes less one,:"The thousandth knife found my liver;:"The thousandth enemy said to me,:" 'Now you shall die,:"Now none shall know.':"And the fool, looking down, believed this,:"Not seeing, above his shoulders, the naked stars,:"Each one remembering."

The post-FASA canonical Klingons on the other hand as depicted in later "Star Trek" TV series, have a culture and traditions based more on that of the Japanese Samurai (or, rather, Western imaginations of them). The canon "Klingon Empire" is governed by the High Council, led by a Chancellor. Their homeworld is Qo'noS.

FASA's interpretation of the Klingons was an early and popular attempt to offer an account for the differing appearances of Klingons from the original series to the first of the motion pictures, later joked about (but left unexplained) in an episode of ' and finally resolved in an episode of '. Still, the positive portrayal of Klingons as protagonists (such as Lt. Worf of ST:TNG) was arguably an influence of the "Star Trek" novels of John M. Ford. [ [ "Requiescat in Pace, John M. Ford"] , by Eric Burns]

;"The Triangle"

The game supplement "Trader Captains and Merchant Princes", first published in 1983, introduced "the Triangle", a lawless area wedged between the space occupied by the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire.

"The Triangle" supplement later introduced a set of excellent color maps, allowing players to know exactly how long it would take them (in game time) to travel between star systems.

This lawless area was popular with players as it allowed them to escape the strict parameters of a military campaign. Most campaigns with civilian or non-Star Fleet characters were based entirely or in part within the Triangle.

Perhaps as a tip of the hat to "The Triangle", Captain Picard mentions a group of Andorian pirates based in the "triangular system" in the 3rd season episode of "" "The Survivors."

;Ship classes

The game introduced a number of starship classes which were not based on those seen in the series, though many of them borrow heavily from the starship design standards set in the series; that is, the use of main "saucer" sections, outboard "warp" nacelles and so on.

They included, but were not limited to: the "Bader class scout", "Baker class destroyer", "Chandley class frigate", the "Enterprise class cruiser" (the refitted Constitution-class introduced in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"), "Derf class survey ship", "Larson class destroyer", "Loknar class frigate","Nelson class scout", "Northampton class frigate", the so-called "Reliant class cruiser" (the FASA name for the movie-era Miranda class cruiser), the "Mission class transport", "Royal Sovereign class battlecruiser", "M'benga class hospital ship" and the "Sagan class science ship" (an upgrade of the canon Oberth class starship). A few designs were made for ships mentioned in canon but not seen, most notable (non-canon) among these was FASA's conjecture of the Ambassador class starship, which somewhat resembles a modified Enterprise-class cruiser with Excelsior nacelles; in canon the "Ambassador" is a precursor to the Galaxy class starships.

The distinct design of several of those ships, notably the "Chandley class frigate" and the "Loknar class frigate", have made them popular in non-canon "Star Trek" folklore. The "Loknar" design bears a more than passing resemblance to the NX class starship featured in "".

It is worth noting the "Mission class transport", a shuttle-style, warp-capable ship designed for small crews and short missions, is similar to the small, long-range, shuttle-style runabouts introduced in later Star Trek series. The FASA "Mission class transport" predates it by more than a decade.

;Star Trek historical timeline

A number of key dates in the FASA "Star Trek" universe are approximately 60 years out of phase with their equivalent dates in the more official canon "Star Trek" universe.


Supplements to the basic game introduced players to the rudiments of the Romulan and Klingon languages. Neither language, as expressed in the game, is the same as later depictions in the "Star Trek" series.

The FASA version of the Klingon language is called Klingonaase.


FASA had previously written supplements for GDW's "Traveller", an association which influenced the early structure of the "Star Trek" game.

The game system was percentile based, meaning that for every action or test desired, players had to roll two ten-sided dice to generate a random number from 1 to 100. Success or failure was determined either by rolling against a set difficulty target, or a player's own skill, or a hybrid of both, adjusted by circumstances.

For example, assuming no modifiers, if a player had a skill of 45 and rolled 33, the character was assumed to have been successful in that action. If there were tools for the task available, the player might have a bonus of +25; if the task is made more difficult because of conditions (such as a space battle) the player might have a penalty of -25.

The rulebooks provided systems for governing personal combat, space and planetary exploration and combat between starships. Supplements provided additional rules for characters in the Klingon Empire and Romulan Star Empire, interplanetary trade and commerce, and campaigns focusing on other non-Starfleet players.

Each planet in the game's atlas had a code that - coupled with the character's merchant skill and some luck - allowed players to buy and trade across the galaxy. A ship's carrying capacity was not based on tonnage, but on volume (i.e. how much space a ship can hold). There were also rules on buying and selling stock on the Federation stock market.

Character generation

Like most role-playing games of its era, players had to roll dice to determine the opening attributes of their character. "Star Trek: The Role Playing Game" characters begin with seven basic abilities - "Strength", "Endurance", "Dexterity", "Intellect", "Luck", "Charisma" and "Psionic Potential". Though generated prior to the commencement of play of the first gaming session, these attributes are adjusted depending on the character's race. (Vulcans, for example, gained a natural bonus to their "Psionic Potential" score, a measure of their heightened psionic skill.)

Players had the option of playing virtually any humanoid character introduced in the original "Star Trek" TV series, the animated series or the first few 1980s movies. They included: Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, Andorians, Orions, Klingons, Romulans. Two other races introduced in the animated series - Caitians and Edoans - could also be played.

Players determined their character's background education and opening age by rolling dice, accumulating skill points based on their choice of assignment (helm operations, communications, medical etc.) or tours of duty in the military (usually the United Federation of Planets Star Fleet, but also the space navies of the Klingon Empire or Romulan Star Empire) or civilian life (merchant shipping).

Players also had the option of assuming the roles of the "Star Trek" characters, including Captain Kirk, Mr Spock, Lieutenant Uhura and Yeoman Janice Rand instead of creating their own character.

"Starship Tactical Combat Simulator" game

The game's basic rule system provided a simple system for moderating space battles, in which each player assumed a role in the battle, typically by manning a station on the ship's bridge.

The Captain determined the strategy, the Engineer was responsible for power management and allocation to different systems such as weapons and shields, the Helmsman for firing weapons, the Navigator for managing deflector shields, the Communications Officer for damage control and so on.

FASA later developed that system into a more complex standalone game, the "", similar to a tabletop wargame. During a role-playing session, if the adventure called for a space battle, role-players had the option of using this standalone game to determine the outcome of the battle.


FASA's depiction of the "Star Trek" universe was widely received in the mid-80s, even by people who did not play role-playing games, and for the most part it was assumed by many to be canon. Many players therefore were dismayed when "Star Trek: The Next Generation" began to air in 1987 with what they saw as "changes" to a pre-established universe.

In effect, what had been assumed to be canon was, in a short space of time, no longer.

Paramount Pictures, who owned the licence to "Star Trek", revoked FASA's license to publish the official role-playing game in 1989. The decision was sudden, and by some accounts provoked by what became the last two supplements produced by FASA - "The Next Generation Officer's Manual", published in 1988, and "The Next Generation First Year Sourcebook", published in 1989.

Both contained material which Paramount later said had been published without the correct clearances from within the studio. Given the rising success of the "Star Trek" franchise, it follows that Paramount now wanted to exert a greater degree of control over the game, to ensure it remained consistent with the TV series.

Many players blamed the studio for its abrupt dissolution of FASA's licence as well as "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry for retconning of what had been seen as established "Star Trek" lore. They sent letters of protest to the studio, and to contemporary science-fiction magazines such as "Starlog" and GDW's "Challenge" magazine, in vain.

Given the avalanche of canon material which has come since that time - the television series "Star Trek: The Next Generation", ', ' and "", several subsequent theatrical films and a library of novelisations - FASA's interpretation of "Star Trek" has largely been forgotten except by a handful of die-hard fans.

The rise of the internet, in particular, has given voice again to fans of the FASA version of the Klingons and Klingonaase, enthusiasm for "khomerex zha" and Klingon nomenclature ("epetai", "sutai") — a Klingon worldview and Klingon honorifics respectively, both created by John M. Ford — and references to "human-fusion" and "Imperial" Klingons.

Official publications


*"Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, 1st Ed." (1982)
*"Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, 2nd Ed." (1983)


et during the original series

*"Ship Construction Manual, 1st Ed." (supplement, 1983)
*"Ship Recognition Manual: Federation, 1st Ed." (supplement, 1983)
*"Ship Recognition Manual: The Klingon Empire, 1st Ed." (supplement, 1983)
*"Star Trek Gamemaster's Kit" (supplement, 1983)
*"Trader Captains and Merchant Princes, 1st Ed." (supplement, 1983)
*"The Four Years War" (supplement, 1986)

et in the movie era

*"The Klingons" (supplement, 1984)
*"The Romulans" (supplement, 1984)
*"Star Trek III Sourcebook Update" (supplement, 1984)
*"Federation Ship Recognition Manual" (supplement, 1985)
*"Klingon Ship Recognition Manual" (supplement, 1985)
*"Romulan Ship Recognition Manual" (supplement, 1985)
*"Ship Construction Manual, 2nd Ed." (supplement, 1985)
*"The Triangle" (supplement, 1985)
*"The Triangle Campaign" (supplement, 1985)
*"The Federation" (supplement, 1986)
*"Klingon Intelligence Briefing" (supplement, 1986)
*"The Romulan War" (supplement, 1986)
*"Star Trek IV Sourcebook Update" (supplement, 1986)
*"Klingons: Game Operations Manual" (supplement, 1987)
*"Klingons: Star Fleet Intelligence Manual" (supplement, 1987)
*"The Orions" (supplement, 1987)
*"Regula-1 Orbital Station Deckplans" (supplement, 1987)
*"Star Fleet Intelligence Manual" (supplement, 1987)
*"Trader Captains & Merchant Princes, 2nd Ed." (supplement, 1987)

et in the "TNG" era

*"Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual" (supplement, 1988)
*"Star Trek: The Next Generation First Year Sourcebook" (supplement, 1989)


*"Denial Of Destiny" (adventure, 1983)
*"The Vanished" (adventure, 1983)
*"Witness For The Defense" (adventure, 1983)
*"Demand of Honor" (adventure, 1984)
*"Margin of Profit" (adventure, 1984)
*"The Orion Ruse" (adventure, 1984)
*"Termination: 1456" (adventure, 1984)
*"Graduation Exercise" (adventure, 1985)
*"The Outcasts" (adventure, 1985)
*"Where Has All The Glory Gone?" (adventure, 1985)
*"A Doomsday Like Any Other" (adventure, 1986)
*"Conflict of Interests" (adventure, 1986)
*"Decision at Midnight" (adventure, 1986)
*"The Dixie Gambit" (adventure, 1986)
*"The Mines Of Selka" (adventure, 1986)
*"Old Soldiers Never Die" (adventure, 1986)
*"Return to Axanar" (adventure, 1986)
*"The Strider Incident" (adventure, 1987)

Related publications

*"Star Trek III: Starship Combat Game Box Set" (supplement, 1984)
*"The White Flame" (scenarios for the Combat Simulator, 1987)
*"Stardate" magazine, Vol. 1 (issue 1 - 8) and Vol. 2 (9-11) by FASA.

upplements advertised but never published

*"USS Reliant 7.5mm Deck Plans" (1983)
*'Space Lab Regula One 7.5mm Deckplans" - integrated into the Regula I deckplan booklet? (1983)
*"A Chance for Peace" - may have been eventually published as "Demand of Honor?" (1983)
*"Forward into the Past" (1983)
*"Spores of Hatred" (1983)
*"Enemy Contact: Bridge Alert" (c 1985)
*"Hostile Bivouac/Civilians" - bundled adventure and sourcebook (1983)
*"Star Trek Ground Forces Manual" (1986)
*"Star Fleet Marines" (1986)
*"Operation: Armageddon" - interstellar war simulator game (1986)
*"Scavenger's Run/Existence Zone" (1987)
*"Operation Buchman/Adventure" (1987)
*"Perish by the Sword/Galaxy Exploration Command" - bundled adventure and sourcebook
*"Ground Forces Manual" (1988)
*"Yachts Ship Recognition Ma'nual" (c 1990)
*"Orion Ship Recognition Manual" (c 1990)
*"Gorn Ship Recognition Manual" (c 1990)
*"Star Trek: The Final Frontier Sourcebook" (c 1990)
*USS Enterprise (Galaxy Class) miniature
*Ferengi Cruiser miniature

ee also

* Klingonaase
* John M. Ford
* Colonel Green


External links

* XON FASA "Star Trek" ( — the premier FASA "Star Trek" resource.
* [] — This forum discusses the FASA "Star Trek" game system.
* [ FASA "Star Trek" Library] — This website gives a good description of each FASA "Star Trek" publication.
* [ The Unofficial FASA "Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator Game" Homepage] — This page is dedicated to the fans and game players of the FASA "Star Trek" Starship Combat Game.
* [ FASA Trek Listing] — This website gives a brief description of all the supplements.
* [ Klingonaase Guide]
* [ The Unofficial FASA "Star Trek" Universe E-group Groups Page] — This forum is for fans and game players of the "FASA Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Game" to discuss but not be limited to, the rules, ships, and the games in which they are used.
* [ Morena Shipyards and Affiliated Partners] Yahoo! Egroups devoted to all things FASA "Star Trek", including the background universe, RPG and starship combat game.

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