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New GM, Looking for advice/recommendations

Hi, brand new GM here, and I’m very much looking forward to running a Star Trek Adventures game for my friends. I think I’ve got some good seeds for ideas, but I’d love some advice.

I think I’m going to have my players be the crew of a small listening post station instead of a ship. I’ll give them a runabout or something, since obviously not all the action can happen aboard a tiny station, but all the players seem keen on the idea.

Since I do want to use elements of the living campaign so I don’t have to write everything myself, I’m putting this listening post in orbit of the planet Balduk. It’s Klingon territory, but I figure that like Narendra Station, the station would be a joint operation, and since it is a small station and would answer directly to Narendra Station. That puts them close enough to the Shackleton to play around in that sandbox, but also gives them freedom to do their own thing. I do have some questions, though.

First, is there a way to make a stats sheet for a station like you do for a ship? Obviously it won’t be flying anywhere, but I was hoping to give them a badass sensor suite, perhaps rivaling an Intrepid-class, since after all, that’s what a listening post does. I want to give the station character, make it feel like both a home and a friend the way you usually do with starships. Any advice on how to draw up the station?

Second, my idea for why a Federation station is allowed to orbit a Klingon planet is that that whole eastern end of Klingon space is perhaps poorly charted, and the Federation has committed to helping the Klingons find more habitable or resource-rich worlds in the area. (And, you know, if the Federation happens to spot any Romulans for the Klingons to go scrap with, so much the better, right?) Still very much an exploration type mission, and yet has all the political complexity I could ask for. Also, it’s in orbit around Balduk because from what I can tell, Balduk is not actually a Klingon world, but rather home to a client race called the Balduk. But other than Worf considering the Balduk formidable warriors, I can’t find out much else. Has anyone else worked with the planet in their games? I know I can make up my own stuff, but I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts.

Finally, I think I’d like to use a pre-written adventure to start with while my players and I are learning the system. But I don’t want to put them on a ship just for one thing, and then be like “psych! you’re all getting reassigned to this backwater station,” I’d rather them start with the station to give them better opportunity to develop Feels for it. Which of the current published adventures seem most adaptable to using a station+runabout instead of a ship?

Thanks so much, everyone. Very excited to get started.

Edit: on the advice of one of my players, I started a World Anvil where I can sort out my ideas.

Why not have them start on the ship on it’s way to drop off the new relief crew (them ) at the station?

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That’s an idea. Still, which of the published adventures would be best for an in-transit, not-actually-commanding-the-ship situation?

My campaign will be on a Federation Starbase, similar to Narendra, but smaller with what I picture for Narendra in my mind. I plan on having it start with them in transit to their new post. They arrive at one Starbase, take delivery of a Runabout assigned to their new posting, and take the runabout the rest of the way to the station. En route, they will go through the starting adventure in the back of the core rulebook.

That adventure (and others where all that is needed is a Runabout) can be easily adapted to fit with the small listening post idea of yours. Heck, for any module or adventure in the living campaign where there is no real planned ship combat, you can easily adapt to only having a Runabout available.

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In terms of a stat profile for the station, there are some sample space station profiles in the Command Division sourcebook you could use as a base line for your own purposes. It also has rules specific for stations compared to starships, such as small craft capacity, repairing visiting ships etc. Any idea how big you’d like the listening post to be?

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Sounds solid.

As already mentioned, you should probably invest in the Command Division supplement which contains rules for starbases as well as special starbase talents.

The rules of creating starbases are not the same as creating starships. There is no spaceframe and mission profile. Just stock starbases.

The Command Division supplement contains two stock starbases (small deep space outpost and front line starbase). It also contains a bunch of new shuttles, including the Federation attack fighter.

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The adventure in the back of the Core rulebook is a great starter adventure, which leads right into the living campaign - crew is on route to Narendra Station in runabout which ends up crash landing on the planet while attempting to respond to a distress signal from a Federation Survey outpost on the planet. Easily adapt it to your own purposes - crew is en route to the Balduk Outpost, they crash, investigate the distress call while trying to find a way of planet.

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Thanks for the recommendation! Looking at the Command book, the Small Deep Space Outpost stats look very close to perfect. Odd that you don’t do a spaceframe and mission profile for a station. Just because it’s not going anywhere doesn’t mean its outfit might not be specialized to fit a specific role. In this case, I think I’m going to swap the Advanced Shields talent for Advanced Research Facilities, and sacrifice some Weapons systems for a little more Computers. After all, the whole reason that the Federation has been granted the Balduk outpost is that the Klingons don’t think it has any military value.

There is a thread on Space Stations and Mission Profiles right here on the forums where you might find some homebrew material. There is also an Official Products Wishlist within this section. If you want official material concerning Space Stations, there is the place to tell Modiphius. :slight_smile:

I think the reasoning behind the spaceframe/mission profile mechanic is that you have well-known ship classes that players want to use (like the Galaxy class) but they want to have a way to adjust the ship’s stats to fit their campaign.

There are no well-known starbase classes and it is rather niche that players want a K7-type station but as a frontline defense outpost. So they just didn’t implement that mechanic and rather have individual starbases.

Canonically however, we only see like 3 or 4 starbase models in the show, so obviously they have to be somewhat modular to fit their role. So mission profiles and spaceframes for starbases are totally feasible.

Hmm. So if I’m going with that Small Deep Space Outpost from the Command book, how many people are actually on it? I see that it has Crew Support 8, based on the scale, but that’s just how many NPCs that can be called upon in a mission, as I understand. How many total people should actually be on a station like that?

Personally, I would put the population of a Deep Space Outpost at about 100-600. This number would include operational staff for the base, and any traffic that would come through the area regularly.

S Siron has a pretty good suggestion, especially for a Scale 8 listening outpost. Especially if you look at Memory Alpha (https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Deep_Space_9) and STAs Deep Space 9 supplement. According to Memory Alpha, DS9 has a crew ranging from 300 - 2000, with a total capacity of 7000. Combine that with the DS9 STA supplement listing it at Scale 12 and S Siron’s suggestion looks really good.

  1. The Command Division book is extremely helpful with designing space stations.
  2. Feel free to add ship upgrades to the station to reflect its advanced sensors and other standout resources.
  3. Someone in the game should be Klingon as a liasion. Think Major Kira in DS9. This person should know the language and various customs. You should also be aware of the customs of Klingons. Also, be aware of factions not in support of the Federation present here. Your diplomat/liasion needs to be able to negotiate with the factions. Watch season 2 of ds9 to see Bajorans trying to show their customs to the Federation. Dealing with multi-faceted possibly hostile group, despite how much of a joint venture this is.
  4. You aren’t going to get a lot of visitors on this station. Perhaps a refugee or Klingon entourage, but mostly it’s your people alone. They should make up extra characters to build the key group of characters. Have them feel free to create replacement characters as people get transfered elsewhere after a year or two, but there should always be veterans to the station, which means if there’s a crisis and someone who;s been there a while, they might start experiencing some light psychosis from being out there so long. Consider visits from a Counselor. This is like an Outpost. Like Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves, but with better amenities.
    Good luck with your campaign. Let it be filled with espionage but always listen to the players and be aware of their backgrounds. Let that information at least initially drive your original modules.
    Nothing bonds a group like a crisis. Instead of deliberately dealing with Romulans or heavy duty dealings with the Klingons, maybe a group of refugees need asylum. Will the station accept them? You don’t want to have something world-shattering, like blowing up the station on day one. You want a good mid-level crisis that involves everyone fully in the heart of their situation. If there are people who need help and may have knowledge the Federation needs (like knowing Romulan routine routes through here), this forebodes for the future. It involves the Klingons, because these people passing through may want to deal with it. They might not think it’s worth their time. Then you gotta deal with the local planet. Maybe there are alternative solutions. Hope this gets your imagination sparked.
    Garrett and Mari
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Just went through the ST Encyclopedia to look up Balduk. The warriors are fierce, but to Worf not as tough as a group of kids. Reference in TNG “New Ground.” This is a blessing. You have infinite ground to run with. Make the planet, the Baldukians and their cultural issues unique. When there’s too much info on a planet, then you have serious canon-watching issues. You picked a good place. Run with it. Remember from the Beta Quadrant that the conquered people in the Klingon Empire who aren’t Klingon are essentially peasants without social worth as far as the Klingons are concerned. This will prove to be a cultural challenge in the joint Klingon-Federation station occupation. And don’t forget your science stories, detecting with sensors never-before-seen astronomical anomalies to be studied and possibly communicated with.
Garrett

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Yeah, I’m not planning to go too wild with it at first. One of my players wants to go a xenoanthropologist route, which I think is perfect, so I’ll be dropping some lost Klingon artifacts on them and see how they deal with things like studying it and competing factions of Klingons wanting it, that sort of thing.

So for the Balduk, my idea is that, since I don’t have to worry about sticking prosthetics to human actors, they’re going to be weird, maybe like a strange, fungal life form. And to fit with the theme of them having a warrior culture but also being subservient to the Klingons, I’m thinking that they have really strong feudal traditions, where they have a number of petty kings and nation-states, and it’s only natural to pay tribute to their Klingon “high king” liege-lords. The Klingons barely have to do anything, just show up with cargo ships, shout demands like they own the place (perfectly in their wheelhouse), and watch Balduk serfs go scurrying off to collect the tribute. That way, you can have Balduk knights errant roaming the countryside and maybe being formidable warriors, but they’re no match for a Klingon.

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Maybe the Balduk are one of the monsters from Worf’s calisthenics holo program.

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I’ve added several pages to my WorldAnvil, and I’d love to know what people around here think.
Outpost 83 (players renamed it)
Balduk (species)
“83 Below”

Please let me know what you all think. I pulled some things from Memory Beta, but mostly I’m winging it, and I’m not overly confident in my winging it abilities when it comes to lore as complex as Trek.

TBH if the players are enjoying it then to hell with the lore