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In a recent conversation I had on Twitter I was told I didn’t ‘get’ the Star Trek Adventures RPG, my review of which is pretty negative. This did two things. Firstly it annoyed me, as I’d played the game for a good number of sessions before committing my thoughts to paper. Secondly it got me thinking about the idea that any game can be definitively ‘got’. Let’s dive into it.
“Getting it” means a few things. Mostly, it means coming to it with the right expectations and being open to the experience it offers. Being told that you don’t “get it” is a short hand way of saying you are not approaching it correctly, you are not looking for the right thing, you are trying to make it something it’s not, etc. It might also be another way of saying the game (or movie, or whatever) isn’t for you. I don’t think it’s rude, unless you add unspoken words (or, unless the person who said it explicitly is being rude and/or speaks certain words): if you take “you dit get it” as, you are too dumb to appreciate it, or you would like it if you just tried, Etc, then that might Not be the intention.
I used to play Catan with a player who was so conflict adverse she would put the robber in a place that affected the LEAST amount of players. She "didn't get it", or just had her own play style. She played the way she wanted (with in the rules) and the rest of us just accepted it or didn't play with her if a more cutthroat game was desired.
Star Trek seems like a tough RPG to play. So much of the show is either pure negotiation or elaborate technobabble, neither really translates well to dice rolling rules IMHO, while combat certainly does. Plus the naval command structure implies one player is "in charge" while everyone else is playing support to some extent.
Maybe I don't get it either
At which point we discovered she wasn't a Cylon at all. She was just pretending because she thought it'd be fun.
For a moment I was furious to have had the whole game subverted: the human never have had a chance if one of their own wasn't playing along. And then I remembered what an amazing, exciting game we'd had.
She definitely "got it". Just not in the way most players might be expecting.
I actually have a particularly relevant anecdote regarding the FASA Star Trek rpg of the early '80s. As Jason pointed out, some players might have a problem with the military rank structure that leaves a specific character in charge. Our GM decided to make the Captain an NPC (I suspect this was recommended in the rulebook), so he could keep adventure on track by having the Captain give orders to the player characters. The PCs in turn were all officers, so they could order around redshirt NPCs on missions. But the players resented the Captain and staged a successful mutiny. That didn't go over well with Starfleet, so they became a rogue pirate vessel. The GM scrambled to adapt, since this derailed all of his plans for the campaign, but we had fun for a while. One PC even got rid of his phaser and went out around killing people with his newly acquired Klingon disruptor pistol, which was about as powerful as a phaser but had no stun setting.
I think with Star Trek Adventures it places way too much weight on combat and doesn't even really attempt to address negotiation and scientific stuff. Well it does have research but the rules for that are so piss poor as to be useless.
I switched to a Fate Accelerated hack for a few sessions at the end of our campaign and that worked a lot better. Technobabble can become aspects players can tag, you can quickly create minor characters that players can inhabit for a scene or two, and the fate chip system allows them to get their minor characters into trouble only for the main cast to come and save them.
I ran it as written, with no deviation to try and get a feel for the intention as much as possible. I just didn't like what I found.