Spoilers for Shackleton Expanse, beware!

So I’m struggling to understand an event that happens in The Tilikaal Saga Part II: Crime and Punishment.

At the end of the mission, Constitution-Class comes from nowhere, blows up the Lexington, makes a half-hearted attempt at the characters, then leaves.

Why? This seems linked to the mission’s subplot about a Starfleet conspiracy…but that gets dropped and never mentioned again. So why did it blow up the Lexington? I’d assumed that it was due to the Captain being “influenced”…but the sidebar notes on that say that being influenced doesn’t override agency and instead just creates urges that encourages them to do things, but doesn’t force them. It doesn’t make sense that a Starfleet Captain would fold to such urges, much less a Vulcan. Also, it never mentions anyone other than the Displaced influencing people, and the Displaced want the Lexington snooping around.

So what’s going on? Because I know the players (characters) are going to demand answers as to why a Federation ship destroyed the Lexington. I’m tempted to have the Klingons do it instead since they’re more likely to cave in to the urges, but that causes other issues. I’m also wondering if I’m missing something.

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Yes, it’s a bit of a deus ex machina. A malevolent one. Still, there are hints.

Hae a look at p. 106, saying: The voice on the communicator says, “The Federation thanks you for your sacrifice and for your service. Unfortunately, your contamination cannot be allowed back into Federation space. This wild goose chase must end here, for the good of all.”

So it seems that there are actors within Starfleet (maybe even Section 31?) that deemed the characters and the Lexington a risk too much to bear and destroying the ship as the only way to prevent havok being wreaked down. After all, in the mission, it was the characters that went rogue.

I think it is intentional that the identity of the Starfleet ship is not stated in the sourcebook so that we can come up with our own explanations (and plot hooks).

Lucas - and any others of my players lurking here - stay out of this spoiler for the moment!

Yeah, it’s a bit odd at first read and never really explained outright.

Part of the issue is that the Admiral is extremely paranoid and secretive, due to her own contacts with the Tilikaal, and it seems that elements within Starfleet believe that she is being influenced by something malevolent (I mean: they’re not wrong!). I assume they decided that contagion had spread to the crew of the Lexington. If you look at the previous history (especially the mission briefs), you can see where they might get this idea. Events like the confrontation with the Archer-class ship probably didn’t help either, but it still seems a bit harsh!

In my own campaign, this was Section 31, doing what they felt was necessary for the survival of Earth and the Federation. Rather than use another Starfleet vessel, the act was carried out by a Nimrod-class stealth cruiser, without warning. The loss of the ship was reported as due to the dangerous conditions in that star system.

As per the scenario, most of the PCs survived, limping back to civilised space in a shuttle, but they never reappeared in the historical record - although the Trill helmsman’s symbiote shared a name with that of the captain of the Nebula-class Lexington in the 2370’s. He later disappeared in mysterious circumstances…


It feels like it was meant to be a thread in the TOS campaign that was dropped when they decided to focus on TNG and stopped the TOS missions, so it doesn’t make much sense.

And yeah, it just seems out of character for mainstream Starfleet - destroy a ship and kill all survivors. Maybe I’m biased by Picard, but quarantining them probably would have been the first option.

I like the S31 idea, I might pinch that. Our one is set in the DS9 era and so it would fit well. I think it also prevents the issue of accountability - if a Klingon did it, the fallout would be significant. A pseudo-rogue starship wouldn’t cause so many waves. It would mean incorporating a bit of S31 into later missions which I wasn’t planning on doing…but it might work out well.

You mean with the rework of the Living Campaign into Shackleton Expanse?
Maybe. You might ask Alan Patrick, who wrote the original, about it. Or maybe @Modiphius-Jim has some notes on the arc maybe or maybe not planned, back then.

Indeed. Yet, this adventure originally was set during the TOS era. And at least on screen within TOS, Starfleet talked about capital punishment (DIS and SNW seem to revise this :thinking: ). A more “robust” approach than Picard’s would definetly fit into the era.

Since the adventure originally premiered in the Living Camapign, I took a look on what was written back then. And indeed, there is information that might interest you.

First, there’s a short monologue that didn’t make it into Shackleton. The following boxed-text was to be read when players refused to identify themselves to the ship that destroyed the Lexington:

This is another piece indicating the “too dangerous, better destroy!”-theory.

And there’s another piece. In the original adventure, there’s a character that didn’t make it into the Shackleton version. One of the TOS-era Briefs in Shackleton is “Simplicity”. It was a full adventure in the Living Campaign. There, an NPC named “Pruitt” is introduced. From the summary of the original “Punishment and Crime”:

So, robust “de-contamination” might indeed something… :wink:

The original adventure also provides the following note on Cliffhangers:

Maybe there’s something more to your tastes?


Reading that, and it further pushes me to believe that there was a S31 arc involved when they were cooking this up, and it got dropped for whatever reason.

I think I’ll use the S31 spin on it. I think it makes things cleaner than Klingons (it’s set in the TNG era) and makes more sense than straight Starfleet or Tilikaal-Influenced.


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