Writing for the Gamemaster’s Guide

By Aaron M. Pollyea, STA Contributing Writer


I often feel like I’m in the minority when it comes to the writers of Star Trek Adventures. For the longest time, I’d never gotten to play the game outside of some very limited playtesting early on its development. It was only in the past year and a half that I became a player in a very dedicated online group. And even as a player, since I was one of the contributors for Star Trek Adventures, I often got a look behind the scenes to give advice on rules or adventures, or just to be a sounding board for ideas. 

When STA project manager Jim Johnson talked to us writers about the Gamemaster’s Guide, my first thought was “Do I really have the perspective to contribute anything?” But honestly, every player is a gamemaster in the making, and it turned out that my viewpoint as a writer seeing the rules issues or areas where the game could be expanded upon while playing it did give me quite a few ideas of where to go.

I concentrated on the same sections that I had for the Player’s Guide, eras of play, technology, Federation and Starfleet protocol, etc. In those sections I wanted to switch the focus from what a player needs to know to how the gamemaster can better incorporate all of these ideas into their game. What sorts of games are even possible in the decade following First Contact on Earth? What overall tone would work best in a specific era? Is it possible for a ship to tow a ship even larger than itself? What guidelines are there for tasks involving modification of a replicator? Is it all right to have a character repair something using Science rather than Engineering?

A ton of those ideas in the sections I covered stemmed from questions that were raised in our group online, or questions that I received on social media. One section wasn’t like that, and I was able to work with Al Spader on Societies, Governments, and Religions. I honestly think it was the section that was the most difficult to work on. The main problem was that while I do not have a degree in socio-political theory, any religious degree, or degree in economics, I tend to know enough to be dangerous. That means that while it may be very easy to lump all democracies together, it is clear to me that there is a distinct difference between representative democracies and direct democracies, as an example. How much is too much detail? How much can I over-simplify things I know could easily fill whole textbooks to try and get across? While I am sure that there will be people who disagree with something Al or I wrote in that section, I will say we did our best to be fair and represent some fairly complex ideas in a sentence or two.

It’s my hope that the Gamemaster’s Guide gives you and your players an amazing toolbox to use to further your exploration of the universe!

Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep frequencies open for news about additional STA products in the coming months. Live long and prosper!
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