Star Fleet Universe

I’m considering setting a game in the Star Fleet Universe - the setting of the old Task Force / ADB Star Fleet Battle boardgame. I’ve been playing that game since the pocket version, always enjoyed the consistency of the setting… I even liked the concept of Prime Teams that they had laid out in their attempt at creating an RPG for their setting (Prime Teams were the special forces, able to do the impossible, sent in to do what no one else would dare do sort of teams that weren’t necessarily attached to a single ship but would be assigned as needed).

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the more standard Trek settings. I just think that my group would enjoy the SFU most as several of them are not Star Trek fans but know or have even played Star Fleet Battles.

Is anyone else using the SFU, in part or as a whole, for their games?

(And despite being in the early pre-orders for the Modiphius game and lurking around the community since it began, this is my first post here so… HI! I’m James… No relation. :wink: Star Trek fan since about 1972. RPG GM since 1978. So that makes me at least 25 years old. :stuck_out_tongue: )


I’m not well enough versed on the Star Fleet Universe to run a game in it, but from what I’ve read about it, it’d be a fine choice for a military/political themed game.

I’m a TOS die-hard, and it’s my starting point for the game I just started. I told my players that if something isn’t established in TOS don’t assume it “counts” for this game, though if someone wants to play a later-occurring species, I’ll probably find a way to make it work.

I do use some of the species and some the ships from Star Fleet universe in my game.


Same here… but my players aren’t.

I was going this route at first but the more I included, the more I wanted to include. :stuck_out_tongue: So I ended up just opting to take the full plunge.


I totally get you. I absolutely loved the SFU.

The ships built on what we had seen in the TV series and made a logical progression based on the existing Star Trek rubber science. Federation ships looked like they were all from the same design philosophy, the Klingons and so on. The fleet orders of battle are fantastic and the variants mimic the detail of real world navies.

It is pretty much TOS continued.

I do like the the later series, DS9 being my favorite.

I’m a Kzinti geek. I’m setting the game at Y160… which is a couple of years into the Four Powers War (which would become the General War). I tried to rectify the TOS episodes with the official SFU timeline. It’s not terribly easy since ADB wasn’t allowed to use specific names from Star Trek but the timeline includes the Gorn meeting at Cestus III and the Organian Peace Treaty so it wasn’t terribly hard, either. It’s just a year after the Klingons and Romulans started to trade some tech, too… and the Organians just disappeared.

In Y160, the Feds and the Kzinti aren’t particularly friendly but the Feds realize that if the Kzinti lose their war with the Klingons, there won’t be anyone to stop the Klingons from combining efforts with the Romulans to attack them. If the Feds try to help the Kzinti, they risk escalating the Four Powers War into a general conflict that would span all of the major powers… which is exactly what happened in the SFU timeline.

To up the ante, the players’ ship will be the re-launched USS Excalibur, the ship that was lost during the M5 wargame in “The Ultimate Computer”. The ship is refitted with some experimental tech (following the STA rules for that… and using the Star Trek - Phase 2 Enterprise as the model for the ship) and, to begin with, it’s just supposed to be a testbed (deal with close-to-home issues, test capabilities under controlled conditions, etc.) while it’s being evaluated but… a’la ST:WoK, the ship will be pressed into real service a little sooner than intended. The Kzinti are NOT friendly toward the Feds and someone’s gonna have to do something to make that happen, after all… which would be one of the major goals for the campaign (amidst many minor ones, I hope!).

Anyway… that’s the plan. I know most plans don’t survive first contact with the players. I’m giving them free rein (somewhat… Starfleet Command has a say, after all!) to do what they want. If they pull off some miraculous feat that avoids an escalation to a General War, more power to them. :slight_smile:

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I know the setting fairly well, having owned a fair chunk of the Commander’s Edition, and still owning the GURPS editions of Prime Directive.

For me, it falls into the same category as the FASA version of the RPG: lots of interesting ideas for incorporation into a game (ship designs, species, locations, some personalities), but it’s not canon, and unfortunately never will be. (Although it did have Caitians well before STA :slight_smile: ) I guess it would make for an interesting alternate universe (as opposed to Mirror)…

I do love the Prime Team concept and have incorporated them into my version of the setting: I see them more as teams of troubleshooters than special forces. A Prime Team is basically a detached landing party made up of Starfleet’s version of the best of the best - be they diplomats, scientists, disease specialists or security. Many members are of command rank. They would run special forces type missions when needed, but primarily carry out missions on prime directive-protected worlds (where discovery would be the worst possible result), countering Klingon or Romulan influence, for example, or recovering captured Federation civilians. They rarely have their own ships, but can commandeer other vessels when needed.

I also used the concept to establish similar groups elsewhere in the setting (some of which I think are implied in the Prime Directive source material). So Security have their true special forces in what I called Alpha Teams, and protection specialists (Beta Teams). The Starfleet Rangers are specialists in undercover surveillance (setting up hides like the one in Insurrection), and CORVUS are the stealth transport specialists for all these groups (basically Air America - rogue pilots with tricked out shuttles and transports).

I still dream of running a campaign based on this, but it’s a little specialised for the casual fans I usually game with!

I’m using the ISC as a foil for my TOS campaign. That’s probably as SFU as I’m going to get. Due to the threat posed by the ISC and their “peace keeper” fleet, I’m seeing them as provoking the ultimately failed joint diplomatic experiment on Nimbus III. In an effort to avoid a war which would leave the Federation, the Klingons and the Romulans vulnerable to the ISC, the three agree to form a joint embassy to foster peaceful, diplomatic resolutions to their conflicts.

I agree. For me, that’s a factor. If I were playing (rather than GM’ing) or even GM’ing for people who were bigger fans of the franchise, I’d set the game in the canon setting. I’m just not concerned about putting my game in a canon setting because it won’t matter either way to my players. They wouldn’t know Star Trek canon from a Star Trek cannon.

I agree! I was wracking my brain trying to remember this very term while describing them but it somehow escaped me.

Strangely, I think the casual fans I usually game with would be MORE interested in something like this! When you have dyed-in-the-wool Star Trek fans, they’re going to be guided by the concepts of the setting. They’ll concern themselves with the Prime Directive or the subtleties of the relationships between the member-species of the Federation just because. A more-casual fan might not without prompting and then might feel the prompting is a little invasive to their roleplay. My players definitely would. For my players, if they’re given a mission with a specific set of parameters and list of acceptable goals, they’ll go with it and love it.

I’m not trying to say you’re not right, though. I know every group is different and we’re both trying to facilitate the people we play with and coming to different conclusions because of it.

Absolutely, and that’s half the fun! It’s always good to see a different point of view, although I still goggle at the memory of the fellow over at who gave his players a ridiculous ship (think the USS Vengeance on steroids), then had to come up with ever more powerful enemies for them to place - and absolutely loved it!

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While I know, and love, the SFU, STA is the first Trek RPG since PD 1E was released that I haven’t considered running in the SFU.


  1. PD races are substantially different in construction approach
  2. SFU Star Fleet has at least 5 divisions (Command, Ops, Science, Marine, Intelligence)
  3. Ships expressed in STA lack a certain level of specificity that I find problematic.
  4. some of my players aren’t trek fans; one hasn’t even watched the show.
  5. I felt like running TNG era…

lol I was wondering when this would come up, darn it I thought I would be the first person!

I’ve been secretly working on converting SFU ships into STA format for use in the game. I’m about 1/2 way done working on some Cruisers. Fed CA, Rom WarEagle, Klingon D6K, Orion CA, Tholian CA, Kzinti CM, Gorn CL, ISC CA, Hydran Ranger, Lyran CA.

I have some basic artwork done, then I was going to make the stat cards for them, maybe do a little more basic artwork showing the silhouette profile of each ship from 3 angles. I was also thinking there’d need to be a larger gradient of ship class sizes. And maybe a basic write up of the top 1-5 species of each faction for use as PCs or NPCs.

And then of course maybe some special rules for the different weapons. And THEN start working on more ships, etc. I was going to release a google doc to the public once I get these basic cruisers done.

The difference between the PD1E Scatter Phaser and Phaser Repeater rifle isn’t going to matter much under the STA rules.

I think those hit
Phaser Repeater Rifle Ranged 2h Charge 4d Area
Scatter Phaser Ranged 2h Area Charge 1 3d Area

The Area 1 quality simply counts as always having 1 effect more than rolled for the area effect property.

Jamesrrocco: I’m just not concerned about putting my game in a canon setting because it won’t matter either way to my players. They wouldn’t know Star Trek canon from a Star Trek cannon.

Do they know a Star Trek cannon from a Star Wars blaster? That’s the real criteria us types uses here at the checkpoint, and we’ll do the tars-and-feathers thing to anyone who doesn’t stick to Wickerson Brothers-style definitions of normalcy. Now go and watch yer TOS and talk about how seasons one and two are really better than three…

I haven’t given a lot of thought to ship conversions yet. I’m planning to focus on the Feds meddling in the Four Powers War so I think I might be able to get away with focusing on Kzinti and Klingon ships - at least as far as the main races go.

At some point, I hope to land the PC’s ship in the WYN cluster to lend them some plausible deniability… assuming they can wrangle the diplomacy to pull it off. So… some Orion ships, too.

The Feds hope to arrange it so that the Klingons have to cease their hostilities AND not be tempted to turn on the Feds (with Romulan help). In the AFU timeline, this would be doomed to failure since the Four Powers War eventually escalated to the General War but I’ve always been a big fan of letting the players alter the course of history if they’re smart about it.

What is Star Fleet Universe?

In the late 1970’s, Star Trek was a dead intellectual property… or so the holders thought. Along came a little wargame company looking to make a game that simulated Star Trek ship to ship combat. Somehow, because the ip was underestimated, they negotiated a contract that gave them the rights to continue producing that game in perpetuity.

The contract only covers things from the Original Series, Animated Series, and a few fan-produced sources (like the old Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual). Thay also can’t mention Kirk, Spock, etc. and the only time I see “Enterprise” at all is when they list ships in the Connie class.

The wargame writers used the sources they were allowed to use and created a cohesive, consistent history for the game that took the game forward, from that point but in a completely different direction than we’ve seen in the movies that came out from TMP and beyond. They essentially created their own setting that has its roots in the Star Trek Original Series but diverts pretty far from there. That setting is the Star Fleet Universe.

In a lot of ways, it’s a more internally consistent universe because that’s the sort of thing that wargamers (and roleplayers) tend to demand. It’s also less utopian. Star Fleet is a military organization. It fights, frequently, with its neighbors (though it has the distinction of never starting a war, expanding its borders militarily, or even attacking another ship without warning).

You can learn more if you’re interested. Just google “Amarillo Design Bureau”. They’re Star Fleet Battles’ developer.


Good summery.

The history’s a little more convoluted than that, which is why they got away with it.

Franz Joseph published the Star Fleet Technical Manual in the mid-1970s, and also eked out the rights to produce a limited starship combat game based on it, the SF Battle Manual. What would become the Amarillo Design Bureau then sub-licensed the Battle Manual and expanded on it to produce Star Fleet Battles. Technically neither side had the right to do that, but as you say, Trek wasn’t exactly a major property at this point and it slipped under Paramount’s radar. When they finally became aware of it (as Trek really took off around the Wrath of Khan - and the first incarnation of the official ST RPG got established), the three companies settled out of court and ADB/Task Force Games gained a kind of grandfathered contract, based on their original one with FJ. The details are pretty much as you said!

It’s an interesting project - internally consistent, but it shows its wargaming roots. It’s very locked into the kind of perpetual widescale conflict that favours wargaming (cf Warhammer) and is populated with a wide variety of interstellar empires all on roughly the same technology level, but with very different weapons systems (to give you a variety of opponents to fight). Advanced technology means more efficient power systems and more powerful weapons, but no sign of replicators. And the universe is fairly homogenous - civilisation is spread out fairly evenly and there are no deserts of uninhabited systems, or densely-packed star clusters.

They were pretty much the first group to do both the Romulans and Klingons as sympathetic societies (although I still prefer the FASA takes). And they explored regions out of reach of Star Fleet (note the two words btw - this was before the retcon!), on the far sides of those empires.

I wondered how FJ fit in. Thanks for filling me in!

They just don’t really concern themselves with these. If there are resources or there is a strategic value to a system, they can colonize it. They do present that the areas of the galaxy where the Romulan Star Empire and the Gorn Confederacy found themselves are oddly barren compared to the other territories. As they say, any “hex” on the map of the Federation will include perhaps 500 star systems with about 50 of them having habitable planets (with life/colonies).

I was hoping that I’d find more people using the SFU as their setting. The main thrust of my efforts has been reconciling the SFU with canon where things aren’t really mentioned. Replicators are a part of that. They’re not mentioned but they could still be present. I write this for my players:

"Many of the member worlds in the Federation enjoy the benefits of post scarcity. Everyone’s needs and most comforts are available to every citizen. The average citizen has a comfortable home or apartment with modern conveniences, comforts and ample extras for personal enjoyment and leisure. They can live almost anywhere on a planet since they can easily reach any other location on the planet via transporters, and locally via readily available forms of mass transit – including road networks of self-driving private vehicles.

“As desires often exceed needs, this is where money – specifically the Credit – would come into play for a Federation citizen. The various planetary governments use money – specifically the Mega Credit – for trade or for major expenditures such as for infrastructure projects or starship construction. On a society level, greed is truly all but eliminated but individuals still pursue wealth and influence (and, where those might be interchangeable, both). In many ways, there is less moral dilemma behind such endeavors since no one can be denied their basic needs because someone else is acquiring things in excess of their own… at least when things are running as they should. Even a post-scarcity society can be strained during times of immense pressure, such as during a war or at other times when lines of commerce are unpredictable.”

Yeah… I went with the one word “Starfleet” after I wrote my primer using the two. So happy for Search & Replace. :slight_smile: