[STA] USS Excalibur

Neil Gow

Rune Priest
Starting a new Star Trek Adventures game with a new face-to-face group of theatrical stalwarts and old friends. Very exciting. I'll be chronicling the exploits of the ship and crew here, like I used to for my games on UK Roleplayers (remember that?!)

The Crew

Captain Gianluca Julien (Human)
Chief Engineer Commander Shran (Andorian) (@Guvnor)
Science Officer Commander T'kol (Half Vulcan/Human)
Helm Lieutenant JG Velik (Vulcan)
Master Chief Smirnova (Human)

The Ship
USS Excalibur - Galaxy Class, Multirole Explorer.
(Originally named after the sword, but subsequently discovered that the Excalibur was a submarine built by Vickers Armstrong on the Tyne and so is very relevant indeed, especially as the house we are playing in has strong ties to the engineers at Armstrongs. Isn't research wonderful?)

Everything went very smoothly at the table, as it usually does with STA, and we had some interesting discoveries. Three of the characters grew up on Vulcan, one has already discovered a Tilikaal artifact and another might be involved with [REDACTED]

Looking forward to getting this swinging, a lot!
 
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Sounds great - looking forward to reading this. Have only played twice and the second time we came up against the Planet-Killer (the original, which had somehow regenerated and learnt from having the Constellation flown into it.)
 
Session One

The USS Excalibur is diverted from her mission to Narendra Station to find the missing USS Alcubierre, a missing Oberth-class ship lost whilst testing new warp engines. Upon discovering the ship, amidst a sensor/transporter sapping subspace distortion field, they hopped on a shuttle and went to investigate.

They successfully discovered that the ship had been taken over by abandoned Romulans, with one survivor running interference for them from the one active computer terminal. After battling the Romulans, they secured the ship and saved the day, but not before a mysterious being of light appeared to Velik, who had previously encountered a Tilikaal artifact - a drift from the published scenario's use of the Neural Parasite as the 'villain'


Thoughts?
  • The system was easy enough for a new group to get, especially with the way the scenario hand holds them through certain concepts, like momentum.
  • I totally forgot about Determination until the end of the game, which was sort of appropriate.
  • The head of security almost died from a knife to the chest - I liked this as everyone is now very clear about how lethal the system might be!
  • The characters are all beginning to grow a little.
  • Switching the 'pilot being' to a Tilikaal using the subspace rift to try to communicate to the most junior member of the team tees the campaign up nicely and added a nice air of mystery.
  • I really enjoyed bringing the bling!

    WhatsApp Image 2023-10-30 at 23.28.39.jpeg
 
They are A6 menu standees (X6 on Express 365 were about a tenner). Then printed out an A5 template on Publisher - one half is the LCARS Frame with an image and the name, and then the other side has stats and foci. Fold it over, stick it in the standee. Face side helps the other players relate to the characters, flipside is a quick access guide that means you're not constantly staring at your character sheet.

Remi used them with even more panache but I'll leave that to him!
 
They are A6 menu standees (X6 on Express 365 were about a tenner). Then printed out an A5 template on Publisher - one half is the LCARS Frame with an image and the name, and then the other side has stats and foci. Fold it over, stick it in the standee. Face side helps the other players relate to the characters, flipside is a quick access guide that means you're not constantly staring at your character sheet.

Remi used them with even more panache but I'll leave that to him!

I am looking to upgrade to the Remi standard. 😀
 
I think @Vodkashok has them just perfect.
As do you and @negromaestro.
My view is that there is mutual congratulations all round and no need for worry.

To answer, I think I like portrait front, stats on back with mini portrait. I prefer secondary characters to have their own standee.
 
I think @Vodkashok has them just perfect.
As do you and @negromaestro.
My view is that there is mutual congratulations all round and no need for worry.

To answer, I think I like portrait front, stats on back with mini portrait. I prefer secondary characters to have their own standee.
Thank you, everyone for the discussion and feedback that sparks evolution. That is so Star Trek-y a theme.

I will upgrade based on your wise recommendations. I am thinking that for secondary characters, a smaller laminated landscape card to slot into primary standee when secondary character is active. Will trial that at Airecon.
 
Thank you, everyone for the discussion and feedback that sparks evolution. That is so Star Trek-y a theme.

I will upgrade based on your wise recommendations. I am thinking that for secondary characters, a smaller laminated landscape card to slot into primary standee when secondary character is active. Will trial that at Airecon.

Look forward to seeing it!
 
Session Two: We are the Stars that sing with our lives

(This session is based on one of the one-pager adventures in the Shackleton Expanse, of the same name.)

USS Excalibur arrives at Narendra Station for a restock and touch-up before heading to the Expanse. An all-officers meeting has been called for the following day by Admiral Herbert, which looms ominously in everyone's rear view mirror...

  • Captain Julien spends some time dining with Captain Truman of the USS Venture and is brought up to speed on some of the unique features of the Expanse and what Truman knows about their wider mission.
  • Master Chief Smirnova visits the Smirnov Corp offices at Narendra, meets with her cousin, Dimitri and becomes embroiled with Starfleet Intelligence in a slow scheme to out some Orion slavers
  • Science Officer T'Kol goes holo-suite dancing and is 'partnered' by K'var of House K'Voc, a Klingon officer determined to master 'human foot moving'
  • Shran enjoys some time at Django's Hot Jazz Lounge and gets into some hot water over his lack of appreciation of the beats of the Cardassian Refugee 5.
  • Telik tries to increase some of his high scores on the archaic old Earth video games he loves so much, at an arcade, and encounters Ensign Riley of the Intrepid, another Helm, who ribs him about his old Galaxy ship and his game skills.
The all officer meeting is interrupted by an emergency and the Excalibur is chosen to rescue archeologists from a planet suddenly threatened by a supernova.

And now, to spoilers!

They arrive at Toryui II and began the monitoring of the star, and the artifacts around it and the planet. Soon, evacuation began and all hell broke loose!
The star began emitting horrid grav waves, causing Telik to do some improvised flying to keep things intact
The star did a tsunami type ebb and explode version of a grav wave, which Shran accurately predicted, shutting down the power before the warp core was overwhelmed. Excellent play.
T'kol and Smirnova started the evacuation on the planet of the deepest archeologists, but were caught in a landslide, messed up their escape, found an even bigger artifact underground and were rescued by a very precise phaser blast
Shran decided he, and his engineers, would set up a gravemetric cage in the shuttle bay and tractor beamed on of the orbital artefacts into the ship
This triggered an early nova for the star, but it failed to fully explode and instead allowed a whisper message from another place to be sent to Velik, as the Tilikaal asked for help
Everyone escaped nicely.

My thoughts?
It takes a bit to wrangle those one-pagers into some sort of useful order, but it made for a good session. This week we introduced Determination as a mechanic, and next time it will be extended tasks. Slow and steady with the complexity. Characters are beginning to form and the initial pottering around the station has produced some NPCs and sets for the PCs to play around, and some extra subplots. Everyone was buzzing at the end, so mission accomplished.
 
Session Three: Convoy to Array 3-5

We continue the slow build for the campaign - this one was a little slower as our Captain was laid up ill. This was another 1-pager from the campaign, fluffed out to make it a viable session. I think we will be ready for the first TNG era adventure proper soon!

Arriving at Narendra, USS Excalibur unloads the captured alien artifact and delivers it to Dr Helena Unpronouncable Surname, the Betazoid head of science for the station. Velik and T'Kol convey the experiences of voices and pleading words, and Helena tries to read Velik, only to receive a massive surge of telepathic feedback and a power surge from the artifact!

Shran makes a friend with Lt Thompson from the Starfleet Corp of Engineers.

The Excalibur is turned around quickly to head off on a standard convoy escort run, alongside a Klingon ship, to Array 3-5 deep in the Expanse. It is pre-empted by a dinner onboard the IKS Mupwl', introducing the no-social-skills Captain Akul and resulting in Smirnova beating him in an arm wrestling contest! Much blood wine was consumed, and then the convoy began.

During part of the journey, the Klingon ship explodes, with multiple breaches across the ship, and two pirate raiders arriving to pick up the scraps. However, they faced a furious USS Excalibur with a slightly more hawkish XO Johannsen! We entered into the murky waters of STA ship combat and saw the Science Station carry out a wonderful scan for weaknesses, followed by a barrage of photon torpedos and phaser fire, an Attack Run from the Helm and more double attack action. The end.

However, as a complication, a lifepod of some sort escaped from the dying raider ship...

My thoughts? The story ticks along, but this was a training run in ship-to-ship systems, and it was grasped easily by the table. The Galaxy class is a tough old bird, especially with a decent Engineer and ordinary ships are not going to give it much trouble. However, that allowed the shakedown of the basics of ship combat to bed in. I'm trying to introduce new mechanics to the table in a drip-drip method. I also liked introducing some more Klingons. I know that aspect of the setting becomes far more important later in the campaign, so its good to establish the runners and riders now.

Next session, the Captain returns and we have an emergency on the IKS Mupwl' to deal with, before working out what to do next!
 
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