10 May 2016

FASA Trek 3rd Edition - What would I do? Part I: Skill Roll Musings

  Space... The final frontier.  This was one of the first games I ever owned, and one I loved so very much.  Star Trek, by FASA Corporation.  My Big Three game producers when I was first getting into the hobby were TSR, FASA and Palladium.  Not exclusive, but they were the big ones.  I mean, of course I played some West End, and Steve Jackson, and other games here and there.  But these were the BIG THREE.  And FASA Trek was one of my first RPG passions that wasn't D&D.  My Mammaw and Pappaw Webb bought this for me at a B. Dalton in the mall, and I devoured it while watching TOS on VHS that we'd rented from Chic Le Blanc, a furniture store named after its proprietor in Lake Charles, LA that had a back room full of video tapes and later NES cartridges.  It was an 80s thing, when everyone was trying to get in on the video rental craze.

  With the gargantuan tomes that we see cranked out today by game companies, it's often hard to see how a box with one to three small books almost never more than 64 pages and certainly never more than 96 could constitute a whole game.  Looking back, though, many of my favorite gaming experiences came out of these kinds of games.  D&D Basic, Star Trek, Star Frontiers, Gangbusters, Marvel Superheroes, Gamma World, Traveller...  They gave you the basics, and your imagination did the rest.

  FASA Trek was a great game, but had a few warts even in my tween mind.  The Action Point system was a bit clunky.  The skill roll system seemed pretty straightforward, but there was an extremely odd curve to the listed proficiency levels.  The character gen was almost a Traveller-esque lifepath, but not quite.  Plus there were a few quirks of starship combat that needed fixing to help with the Star Trek feel of the game.

  In a perfect world, FASA would still be publishing Star Trek material.  At least, in my perfect world.  That would require (at least) a 3rd Edition of the Star Trek RPG.  What would that 3rd Edition look like if I wrote it?  Well, I'm of two minds about this.  On one hand, I'd want to keep it very close to the FASA-isms that made the original RPG what it was.  On the other, I'd love to go further afield and do a few different things with the game to smooth over a couple of the rough spots.

  Off the top of my head, my very first thought is to shamelessly steal the Ability Score and Proficiency rules from D&D 5e or just do it in Savage Worlds... but neither of those would have a very FASA-esque feel to them.  I'd better stick with something that looks like a 1-100 scale for attributes and skills.

  So, something that always vexed me was how skills worked.  Take a look at the following:

Skill Rating
Proficiency In Field
Minimum Proficiency
Acknowledged Leader

  So, there are some interesting skill rules about when to roll, and what to roll, and when no roll is needed.  In many cases these are different for each skill, necessitating a little description of each skill highlighting the various needs of each one.

  What about streamlining this system?

Easy, everyday skill rolls use a D10 to roll against the skill.  If you have a 10 or more, you're golden.  Then work out a system where more challenging rolls are done with a D40, D60, D80, and then D100.  Heck, maybe even D120 for "impossible" tasks.  Hey, wait... here's a Star Trek idea...

Die Rolled
Standard CruisingD40
Yellow AlertD60
Red AlertD100

Heck, the "boxed set" could even include dice in the appropriate colors for the rolls.  Since the "10s" die is a standard polyhedral, there would be no need for custom dice such as those used by some modern games by FFG, or odd polyhedrals like Dungeon Crawl Classic's D7 and D14.

This would be an interesting way of handling the strange conceit that 40 is "Professional" in a game that uses D100 to check skills under pressure.  Making a helm maneuver 4 times out of 10 doesn't seem very professional, nor does failing to detect something on sensors 6 times in 10.  With varying difficulty skill rolls above and beyond the D10 and D100 explicitly called for in the FASA Trek rules, this might be able to standardize things a bit without adding too much complexity, and it might even add some Star Trek feel while we're at it.

No comments:

Post a Comment