Political Actions

By Stephen Near, Star Trek Adventures Contributing Writer
Art by Carlos Cabrera


I’m a political junky.

When I watch Star Trek, no matter the era, I’m always captivated by stories that go beyond shipboard drama or bold exploration. Show me Starfleet struggling to keep the peace in a Galaxy full of warring cultures and I’m hooked. The wide diversity of factions in the Star Trek universe—the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians—is compelling enough. But when they clash over competing beliefs and agendas, you’ve got the ingredients for a crackerjack drama.

That’s why my very first pitch to Jim Johnson, project manager for Star Trek Adventures, was a series of mission briefs around political actions in the Star Trek universe. 

See, of every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the one I’ve seen the most is “The Defector.” Described by episode writer Ronald D. Moore as “the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Neutral Zone,” it’s a damn near perfect hour of Star Trek.

Opening on the holodeck with Data and Picard quoting Shakespeare’s Henry V, the episode unfolds as a political drama featuring a Romulan defector carrying classified intelligence in the hopes of averting a war. But the Romulan is far more than he appears, and he confronts Picard and the Enterprise with troubling questions on how to deal with the growing threat of the Romulan Star Empire. In many ways, this episode firmly set The Next Generation onto a path of daring political stories involving the great factions of the Alpha Quadrant.

For me, political adventures touch at the very heart of what makes Star Trek both epic and deeply personal. The stakes are always high. But the characters making decisions based on those stakes? They’re all individuals, imperfect and flawed. Add in the burden of limited time, scant information, and overwhelming agendas, and the stakes are even higher.

As Picard muses in the episode: “We have less than 48 hours to avert a war… or to start one.”

It doesn’t get much higher than that.

Political stories have the capacity to change direction very quickly. And that makes for great storytelling. What might start as a straightforward negotiation almost always turns into a dangerous confrontation that must be defused with diplomacy and quick thinking.

So, when I set to writing “Political Actions,” I always considered how to complicate the initial situation with a conflicting agenda. Invariably, this meant the introduction of a surprise faction or entity. Whether diffusing a civil war between two planetary factions or negotiating ownership of a powerful relic or potent resource, the idea of how to negotiate competing agendas made writing “Political Actions” a joy to write.

I also consciously mined the back catalogue of Star Trek lore as much as I could. Part of the reason, aside from admitted fans-service, was the fact that many of the political actions we see involves familiar factions. So, you’ll see the requisite Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians, of course. But I also involved the Son’a, the Maquis, the Talarians, and even our favorite parasitic invaders.

I hope these mission briefs can plant the seeds for much larger political stories in your Star Trek Adventures campaign and add even more drama to the tales being told by your gaming troupe.

Grab your copy of the “Political Actions” briefs pack now to start creating your own Star Trek stories!


Thanks for reading this article, and thank you for your interest and support of Star Trek Adventures! Keep frequencies open for news about other Star Trek Adventures product releases. Live long and prosper! 


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