Previously, we’ve discussed the history of Star Wars TTRPGs – which ones are out there, and which ones are best for which players. Of course, Star Wars is far from the only beloved sci-fi franchise out there. For fans of military and futuristic-style science fiction, Star Trek is just as, if not more, adored. And there are even more options available for those who want their own Federation adventures.
Here’s our brief overview of Star Trek TTRPGs:
Note: This article uses common abbreviations for Star Trek series. You can find a complete list of these abbreviations here (list of abbreviations). I also use AOS, meaning Alternate Original Series (referring to the recent Hollywood movies, which rebooted the TOS). It also includes the series which directly tie into the AOS timeline, such as Discovery and Lower Decks).
Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier (Heritage Models)
Published in 1978 by Heritage Models, Star Trek Adventure Gaming was the first rpg set in the Star Trek universe. It takes place in the era of Star Trek TOS and The Animated Series (obviously, since nothing else was out yet), and features planetary exploration. No ships, space stations, or scientific rigor, here.
Beginners to the game could play as pre-generated characters (the TOS bridge crew), while advanced players could make their own characters, choosing from a variety of humanoid races. All you’ll need are a bunch of d6, and you, too, can get started!
You probably won’t want to actually play this one, aside from the nostalgia value. Modern players will probably find the table-style formatting a little confusing, and the adventuring options pretty limited. Still, you can find a full pdf of the game here: Star Trek Adventure Gaming PDF
Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game (FASA)
The next big release after Heritage Games let their trademark lapse was FASA’s Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game in 1982. This game released dozens of supplements, modules, and ship manuals, doing fairly well commercially. It focused on the TOS movies, and began to include TNG content, when its license was pulled (some of its content being contradictory to TNG television content, and somewhat more violent than the Federation was shaping up to be). It should be noted that the FASA setting for Star Trek is not considered canon
The system was a fairly straightforward percentile (d100) system, in which skill checks are made by rolling against a standard target number. Space battles were added by assigning each party member a ship’s console to control and having the captain-player direct combat. Overall, not too shabby!
Modern players don’t seem to rate this game terribly well, despite its overall positive reception at the time of its release. That’s just as well, though, since physical copies are rare and expensive, and I can’t seem to track down any pdfs from reliable sources.
Prime Directive (Task Force Games)
Task Force Games came out with Prime Directive in 1993 and adapted the game to various d20 systems all the way through to 2008. The game is fairly TOS-inspired, with players taking on the role of the “away team”. Instead of the captain and first officer taking a small team down to investigate anomalies, it’s a crack team of commandos! Very fun, although not necessarily in keeping with the tone of later Star Trek series.
The game initially played with a fairly d6 system but was adapted to d20 styles later on.
Fans of TOS and AOS will probably have some fun with this system. It can get as goofy or as militaristic as the DM wants! If you prefer the politics and sociology of DS9 or TNG, though, maybe give it a miss.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, TOS (Last Unicorn Games)
In 1998, Last Unicorn Games released Star Trek: TNG Roleplaying Game, followed by DS9 and TOS. This circumvented their lack of license for Star Trek as a whole. The games were more fitting to the tone of their respective series and allowed for more political and sociological discussion and gameplay.
These games use the ICON system, a d6 ruleset which adds a little bit of flair with its use of drama dice. It can get pretty crunchy and complicated, but plenty of reviewers have mentioned that the gameplay feels fairly authentic to the Star Trek universe.
If DS9 or TNG was your favorite, this is a pretty good game for you to start off with.
Star Trek Roleplaying Game (Decipher, Inc)
After Wizards of the Coast acquired Last Unicorn Games in 2002, many of the staff went on to develop TTRPGs under the company of Decipher, Inc. These games are extremely popular among fans – they cover almost the entirety of Star Trek lore (up to the time they finished publishing, of course). They’ve also got the stats for building ships, competent characters, and narrating in the feel of a true Trek episode.
The games run in a style similar to the d20 system, with classes and feats for each character. Actions, however, are resolved with 2d6 instead of d20. Still, the system will be easily workable for anyone familiar with Dungeons and Dragons.
You can find online resources, including PDFs, character generators, and guidelines for play here: StarTrekDecipher.info
Star Trek Adventures
The new AOS movies started coming out in 2009, the last (Star Trek Beyond) in 2016, and by 2017 the latest Star Trek RPG was released: Star Trek Adventures. It’s not so different, as far as I can tell, from previous games in terms of lore and content, but uses a slightly more modern/alternative gameplay that might be interesting for a current audience.
The game uses custom dice, which you’ll have to get separately. It runs on a 2d20 system, as well, in addition to these custom d6s. Reviews seem to split between it being highly combat focused and highly roleplay focused, so it seems possible to run an adventure in either vein.
Reviewers have commented that the game might be slightly difficult to grasp for players coming directly from a single system. But, if you’re used to moving between rulesets, I don’t think that it should be much of a problem for you or your group!
Are there any systems that we’ve missed? Which game is your favorite of those listed above? Let us know in the comments below!