Review

Should You Buy the Star Trek Starter Set from Modiphius

Are you a fan of Star Trek? While I will admit that my knowledge of the lore and history of the Star Trek universe is woefully inadequate compared with many out there, I enjoy it immensely and have seen most of the shows – still need to go through Enterprise and Discovery. I started the latter but didn’t quite get hooked yet. I want to give it a full shot, though. So, when Modiphius released Star Trek Adventures using their 2d20 system a couple of years ago, I picked up a copy of the Collector’s Edition. I read through it, enjoyed what the book offered, and watched a number of live plays, such as Shield of Tomorrow.

I wanted to play or run a game but didn’t have anyone I knew that was into the idea. So, it sat on my shelf with a lot of other games I own. Still, I liked the game and when I found the Star Trek Adventures Starter Set for a good price, I decided to pick that up as well. I was hoping that it might be laid out in a way that would make it easy to help me teach others how to play the game.

I’m happy to say that it does this job remarkably well. In fact, it’s one of the best starter sets that I’ve ever had, and other companies would do well to follow this model.

What Does the Starter Set Include?

The Starter Rules booklet contains all of the basic rules you are going to need, including starship combat. Everything is laid out in a logical manner that will make it easy for people to pick up the gist of the 2d20 system quickly and easily. If you have ever played any of the other 2d20 systems from Modiphius, you will feel right at home here. The rules are written clearly, too, which is nice. There are some RPGs that have language that seems purposefully obtuse, but Star Trek Adventures doesn’t suffer from that problem. The concisely and clearly present the rules in about 20 pages.

In addition to the Starter Rules booklet, you will also find 5 premade PC sheets, as well as a sheet that describes the abilities and stats of the PC’s ship, the USS Magellan. “A Star Beyond the Stars” is the starter campaign, which is split into three adventures that should be run one after the other. The Starter Campaign booklet is about 50 pages.

One of the best things about this set is the campaign. It is laid out in a very easy to read and understand manner that slowly guides the GM, introducing different rolls and aspects of gameplay slowly, so they and the players can get used to them. By the time you finish with the campaign (and likely well before you finish), you will be able to run a session easily.

The adventures also provide a lot of the lingo and tech-speak, which is nice. Like I said, when it comes to Star Trek, I’m not the most knowledgeable. The way it’s written can make me seem far more competent than I am. The way the adventures in this campaign (and others I have) are written makes them sound and feel like a real episode of the show, which is great.

Do You Need Special Dice for the Game?

The Starter Set also comes with a set of special Star Trek dice, but special dice aren’t needed in order to play. The d20 rolls don’t need any conversions (they are just d20s), and the d6 conversion is very simple. Literally, just remember that 3 and 4 on a d6 mean no damage and 5 and 6 mean a point of damage with an effect. It’s easy. Also, the price of the special sets of Star Trek dice online is very overpriced if you ask me. The dice are cool, but you are paying for the licensing.

Do I Recommend the Star Trek Adventures Starter Set?

If you love Star Trek and roleplaying games, and you want to start playing a great game that does a good job at capturing the feel and flavor of the setting, this is it. The starter set is a perfect introduction, and I highly recommend it. In fact, I enjoyed the starter set enough that I’ve dusted off my core book, bought the GM screen, and the Star Trek Adventures Beta Quadrant Sourcebook, not to mention a bunch of PDF adventures.

Go ahead and check it out. I have a feeling you might like it.

On a side note, I swear, if I don’t find some people near me that want to play, this might end up being one of the online games that I plan to start running toward the end of this year.

5 Things I Love About Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

I’ve finally had some time to go through the latest offering from Dungeons & Dragons, Ghosts of Saltmarsh and thought I would let folks know about a few of the things that I really enjoyed and found useful from the book. I imagine that some others will find these to be useful, as well, and it might help them in their buying decisions. So, let’s take a look at five things that I love about this supplement.

Thing the First: The Town of Saltmarsh

All seven of the adventures in the book take place in and around the area of Saltmarsh, which really could be placed in just about any campaign world with very little tweaking. The town itself has quite a bit of background information provided, and it might be fun to have characters from the town or a nearby settlement. There are even some new backgrounds, along with tips on how to use backgrounds from the Player’s Handbook in the setting. New backgrounds include Fisher, Marine, Shipwright, and Smuggler.

The town and the region are well-detailed with plenty of places to go, factions, NPCs to interact with, locales for adventure, and more. Geographic features of interested include The Dreadwood, Drowned Forest, and Hool Marshes.

There is plenty to mine from in the book even if you don’t use the adventures as they are written. I usually pick and choose with these sorts of books, and there is a lot here, as you will see. Actually, this is one that I might try to run some of the adventures closer to how they are written rather than just mining from them.

Thing the Second: The Ships, Crew, and Upgrades

There are several stat blocks and maps for different types of ships including:

  • Galleys

  • Keelboats

  • Longships

  • Rowboats

  • Sailing ships

  • Warships

There’s some brief information on crew members and officers that a ship would need, there are hull and movement upgrades that can be added to ships, weapon upgrades, figurehead upgrades, and more. One of my favorites, because it is weird, is the Death Vessel hull upgrade, which uses materials harvested from the Shadowfell to provide the ship with an aura of dread… that just sounds neato.

Thing the Third: Combat, Travel, and Hazards on the Seas

The rules for ship combat and travel on the seas are straightforward and simple, which I like. Everything is streamlined in combat and the travel portions. DMs can learn how to add various types of hazards to the travel, and to the combat, such as having a fire erupt on a ship while it is in combat. There are simple tables to help deal with a range of issues that could crop up, and best of all, it really helps to ignite my imagination.

Thing the Fourth: Ocean Environs and Ship Encounters

This section of the book deals with all of the strangeness and awesomeness of the sea. You will find information on blue holes, sandbars, coral reefs, learn how currents can affect travel, and learn more about the dangers of the depths. Some of the other fun environs detailed include kelp forests, Kraken graves, eldritch mist, magical storms, and… you get the idea. There is a lot, and they all have DCs or tables with them to make them easy to use.

The Ship Encounters section is great too, making it easy to come up with random encounters quickly. The ship name generator is a lot of fun, as is the crew name generator.

Thing the Fifth: Mysterious Islands

This is a great feature and a simple way to set up some wild and fun encounters for your players. You roll to determine the theme of the island, the leader of the island, and story hooks. Very simple, but great for getting the imagination going. Let’s take a look at a random result that I will roll right now (mainly because I want to roll some dice). And for the fun of it, I rolled up a crew member name.

So…

Our crew member, Drizzly Mast (I swear that’s a possible combo in the book), finds a mysterious island that is about two miles long and five miles wide. Since good ol’ Drizzly has been in the tropics, he will come across a tropical island. It has an “alien” theme and the island leader is a beholder. Some of the inhabitants on the island are cult fanatics who refuse to interact with the characters, seeing them as lesser beings. The story hook rolled for the island is that the leader has a spell scroll of true resurrection in its belongings.

It is a quick and easy encounter that could be a lot of fun and quite a challenge.

These are just five of the things that I love about the book. There are more, but I am already getting dangerously close to 1,000 words.

Do You Need to Buy Ghosts of Saltmarsh?

As with most of the Dungeons & Dragons books that are not a part of the core three (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual), you don’t need them. However, there are some fun adventures in the book, along with the other elements that I discussed above.

It has a lot going for it in my opinion, and if you like nautical adventures and you plan to have some seafaring in your campaign, this is a great way to get some new backgrounds, additional rules, and new creatures that you can use. If you are on the fence and you have the money for it, I’d say go for it. For me, it was well worth the money.

A Quick Review of Festivals, Feasts and Fairs by Ashley May

An easy to use and affordable resource for Dungeon Masters.

An easy to use and affordable resource for Dungeon Masters.

I do a lot of homebrewing and I often have to come up with ideas on the fly… which can sometimes be more taxing than I really like. This is especially true after a long week of writing for my day job. That’s why I really appreciate products like Festivals, Feasts and Fairs by Ashley May. This book is fun and filled to the brim with useful information.

Available on the DM’s Guild, this .pdf is filled with easy to use, fun activities/ideas that you can throw into your Dungeons & Dragons games for when the characters have a little bit of downtime. There will be plenty of fun interactive activities, which you can incorporate into more than just fairs and festivals.

Although the book is only about 40 pages, it is full of great information that makes it easy to create holiday celebrations for a town or city, to create a carnival or circus, to create festivals, feasts, fairs, and to round them out with a wealth of activities.

You will even find rules for archery contests, arm wrestling, drinking contests, eating contests, jousting, milking cows, pig calling, carnival games, and… so much more. It gets even better. The book has information about vendors of different types, fortune telling, different types of items that can be found around a carnival or fair, six new magic items, two new backgrounds – carnie and mummer.

Lots of content that will be easy to integrate into just about any campaign.

Lots of content that will be easy to integrate into just about any campaign.

The book gives you plenty of information to put a festival or event (or even an entire traveling carnival) together relatively quickly and easily, which is a huge benefit to me. You will even find sample festivals that can be quickly re-skinned and slipped right into your campaign.

I’ve already used information from the book a couple of times, and I will be doing so in the future, as well. It’s one of my favorite purchases from the DM’s Guild thus far.

For less than $4, I highly recommend this for any overworked DMs who might want to have a simple way to put together some fast, fun things for the players to do. And like I said, it’s likely to ignite your imagination and provide you with some interesting story ideas. Check it out.

New RPG Content on the Way

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

We aren’t gone, but there has been a bit of a hiatus that will – hopefully – be over for a while. I have a lot of article ideas to get up, along with a host of reviews that I am slowly working on for games like:

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: A Brief Review

So, as an RPG addict and unrepentant diceaholic, it was only natural that I pick up a copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything… not to mention a load of other stuff to play and review on here eventually. Now that I’ve read through a large portion of the guide, I thought I would do a brief review, letting you know a bit about what’s in it, what I think about it, and whether it might be right for your gaming table or not.

Quick Review: Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated

Normally, I don’t use a DM’s screen. While I certainly do not have all the rules memorized (not by a long shot), the players that I usually have are knowledgeable enough about the rules that I hadn’t found it necessary, and looking through books for the few things I needed was easy enough. The screen was something I had thought about getting but figured I would wait.

So, when I decided that I was going to put a second gaming group together – of people who have never played – I figured it might be time to revisit the idea of the Dungeon Master’s screen to see whether it might be helpful or not. Here’s what the Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated includes: