Writing for the Shackleton Expanse

By Aaron M. Pollyea, STA Contributing Writer

One of the things that brings me a lot of joy in writing Star Trek Adventures is setting up a framework or ideas for players and gamemasters to tell their own stories. The Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide is one of the best chances I’ve had in quite some time to set up as many stories and possibilities as I did. One of the places I was able to do this was in the section on notable spatial phenomena.

The set up for the Ember Sector is one that I worked a while on. Here is a sector of over a hundred red dwarf stars, all born long before the Tilikaal came into the picture, and all have stayed together on their orbit around the galactic center for far longer than your normal stellar siblings. What’s kept them together for billions of years? Why are all of them of very similar mass and metallicity? Why are there so many habitable worlds that circle them? Do any have ruins or intelligent life currently on them? So many questions should be raised by the Ember Sector, and whole seasons of adventures could be set there.

Another region that many characters would see as merely an obstacle to their entry to the Expanse is the Endurance Divide, a molecular cloud that shrouds the Federation and Klingon Empire from seeing the Expanse with clarity. It’s here that there are worlds wandering through the void, starless and cold, but with possibilities for adventures and discoveries to be had. Here there are hundreds of separate species of space-dwelling life forms that feed on the complex chains of molecules that form and degrade in the solar winds of nearby stars and the turbulence of the Washboard. If you have a player who is fascinated by biology, or have an idea for an adventure centering around a space-based lifeform, here is a place that it can occur.

Another idea that I tend to make fair use of is making stories centered around the starship, which is the setting, at least partially, in most adventures. I wrote the descriptions of the hero starships (Venture, Bellerophon, Thunderchild, and Lexington) to be as open as possible for your stories to be told, but given them enough story to hang more on it if you so desire. The real story possibilities come from the other starships we were able to include in this book, but most importantly to me, the Cetacean Deep Space Explorer and the Aqua Shuttle. The Aqua Shuttle has been seen in The Animated Series, and it made sense to give it a new lease on life for the Expanse. The story possibilities are with the cetaceans. We’ve long heard about how a Galaxy-class had a cetacean operations area, and how whales and dolphins were self-aware in Star Trek, but we’ve never really had a ship where they were equal in numbers or importance to less aquatic members of the Federation (at least until just recently, on Lower Decks!).

I hope that you enjoy the story seeds we wrote into the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide and make them into adventures for your games. For me, it was a real pleasure to write for you. 

Get your copy of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide now from https://www.modiphius.net, https://modiphius.us, or digitally from DriveThruRPG. 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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