Startrek timelines

GIven Star Trek’s historic and widely-documented difficulties with consistency in scale (part of the reason I made it so abstract in rules terms), defining timelines by the relative sizes of ships as they appear feels… like it opens a lot of doors that don’t need opening. The poster child for this inconsistency is the Klingon Bird of Prey, which appears as a different size basically every time it appears… but that’s far from the only such inconsistency (for example, the U.S.S. Defiant varies from between 50m long and 200m long depending on the episode).

I know it’s the hill-to-die-on these days for part of the fanbase to seek out any and every possible way to explain why Discovery isn’t canon… but that’s not how canon works (canon is defined by whomever owns the rights), and given Star Trek’s storied history of internal inconsistencies, the efforts levelled at Discovery seem more to indicate deeper issues than “it’s inconsistent in a variety of tiny ways with a franchise that’s been on and off the air for more than half a century and which was never consistent from episode to episode in the first place”.

Memory Alpha has a well documented canon policy and is very strict. They even have a list of all alternate timelines. And they distinguish these major timelines: Prime, Kelvin and Mirror Universe.

Of course every player can open up as many timelines as they want according to their own criteria.

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No, the problem is the Internet. At every time there were fans who did not like something that is new in their favourite franchise but without Youtube, Facebook and Co. they did not have the ability to tell every one that they did not like this or that in their franchise (as if they are the ones who own it!) or to publish devastating review of movies which are still in production (and all those “reviewers” have are photos or perhaps a trailer). Fans did not change. There were always fans who did not like some new additions to their franchise but they could rant about this. I remember when TNG reached Germany there were some fans who instantly disliked it, because in their opinion Star Trek should be about Kirk and Spock and the Enterprise. The same happened with DS9, VOY and especially ENT.
This ranting on youtube and trolling review site is a phenomenon of the last couple of years, a phenomenon that can destroy a franchise. And it is not limited to Star Trek. Star Wars, DC ComicsArrowverse, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and many other franchises have become victims of those rabid trolls who call themselves fans.

Sorry for the rant, but I thought that some one should address this problem.

I think there’s something else worth noting which is unique to our situation (as opposed to every other corner of the star-trek-canon-arguing Internet); I imagine most if not all of us are STA GMs.

At the end of the day, whether your approach to canon is literal (everything that happened onscreen is an exact and proper representation of events) or metaphorical (events are a symbolic representation - accurate at scale, but open to interpretation), you aren’t ever going to be objectively correct. The ST universe is just too complicated, with too many contradictions.

But as a GM? You have to decide what’s true in your universe. If you want to completely ignore Discovery, why not? The STA sourcebooks all do! In my universe, the Federation has no currency at all at the individual level, VOY: Threshold literally didn’t happen (they screwed up both the engineering and the scientific reporting, Federation scientists later decide) and STV: The Final Frontier was an actual movie produced by a culture contaminated in the TOS era, hence why nothing in it makes any sense. I have a great deal of respect for the canon and have done a lot of research in pursuit of the running of my games, but I also have no problem with unilaterally deciding what’s true in the Star Trek universe of my game.


Aren’t you missing one episode in your list of things you ignore? The TAS episode Slaver Weapon can also not considered being canon.

Remember the season two finale of DIS? The whole events surrounding Discovery including its crew and the spore drive are top secret. That’s an in-game explanation for STA ignoring DIS. But there are two real life explanations:

  1. The Star Trek licence does not include DIS
  2. DIS is not complete, so they refrain from writing about DIS before they have all the facts.
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Personally, I love the abstract ship scale used in STA, far better than the classifications used by FASA. AS for canon material and non-canon material - meh…I’ll pull from all Star Trek sources: ENT, DIS, TOS, TAS, what little Phase 2 material I’ve been able to get my hands on, TNG, VOY, DS9, novels, Memory Alpha, Memory Beta, home brew fan material - have you seen the fanbrew info about Maloculans from Tony Pi on Continuing MIssions, fantastic stuff! Great thing is, whatever we do as GMs, it’s canon for your game, and that’s all that matters.

I do think its a little unfair to say “so called fans” complain about stuff, there are 7-8 separate tv series so far. How many franchises get that many different tv shows? I think its better to just leave it as different people will be fans of different series as individual entities.

If you liked “i love lucy” but then you didnt like “cheers”, does that make you a “so called ‘i love lucy’ fan” ? I think this approach is perhaps better for Trek, because everything can be so different based on when it was made and who makes it, and because new artistic liberties and complicated licensing deals and merchandise deals are all made and tied in with each iteration of Trek.

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It is not, because they do not have to comment a show they do not like, but they do. They rant about DIS (but not yet about Picard (but I am sure that they will eventually)), they rant about the sequel trilogy of Star Wars, they rant about the Captain Marvel movie or the Batwoman show, because they really believe that only they know what their favourite franchise should be like.

And then people rant about the rants of other people…lol!


Yes… :wink:

But if no one does tells other that these guy are wrong, they remain in control of the narative and could destroy the very same franchise they want to protect with their rants.


fortunately the federation is good at hiding things so end of season 2 fixes the issues as regards to the tech

And that’s easy because all scientist who had been working on the spore drive are either dead or are aboard Discovery including the only person who could make it work. The spore drive was also a top secret project so it is quite save to assume that the technological schematics are not stored somewhere else. With Discovery gone (and assumed destroyed (remember that the fate of Discovery is also kept secret) it is impossible to reconstruct the spore drive.

Well, the list isn’t exhaustive! Aside from things I flat out disregard, there’s a lot of contradictions (some of them basically irreconcilable) even within top-tier canon and it’s actually pretty nice to be able to say “within the context of my version of the universe this one is true.”

As for STA not incorporating DIS material, I’d say it’s not a big issue either way. We know they don’t have the licence, but then there’s loads of stuff which isn’t in the source material in my game world. In the Starfleet Corps of (World) Engineers, what we don’t have we make!

A word on player agency though - I do think SOMEONE has to have the final say on stuff, but I’m interested in how much other GMs work with their players to define canon. I’m broadly in favour of the players and GM collaborating to define the world, but I feel like I trend a little too far on the ‘authoritative’ side currently. How do people handle, for example, a player having something in their backstory that doesn’t quite fit with your vision of things?

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I tend to go through the background stuff of new characters (with the player) before they are introduced. So I can toss out anything I don’t consider Canon. And for the matter of discussion, I as the GM decide what is canon. I am the law :wink:
But I tend to hear my players out for questions what is Canon or not.

What player characters think happened or believe they saw may be two whole different things
For all intense and purposes your powers as the teller of tales are infinite but your players have to be able to trust you so Phenomenal Cosmic Power vs Itty Bitty Living Space

You know, infinite diversity and infinite combinations does also include people who complain about stuff.

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To those who think a secret will be kept… sooner or later, someone makes notes that get found. Too many people became aware of the Discovery’s ability to just flip-out… and be elsewhere in seconds. Too many cadets will have done papers on the war. Most will be dissuaded from that line of thought… but others will find ways to look for it. And for the research of these specialist Lieutenants on the ships of that class, and where it went, and be able to go down that road…

If they didn’t purge all data (and the federation is such a nanny state that I cannot see that happening), someone will have the right idea to look for the data, and get bumped to someone who CAN let them look at the data, and then can sen the largest replicator file ever, and instructions to run it through the transporter… and give them some spores. After which, they then just have to survive long enough to make the right jump.

Sorry, but you are wrong. The spore drive was a top secret project. Only acouple of admirals knew about it and all of them died during season 2. The scientist responsible for the spore drive were either on Discovery (and thus have left the 23rd century) or on the Glenn (and were killed in an accident). Because the spore drive was a top secret project the scientific data was kept aboard the respective vessels (and perhaps in the Section 31 HQ). Discovery has left the 23rd century, Glenn and the Section 31 HQ had been destroyed by Discovery. So, even if some one learns about the spore drive thye have to start from scratch and will soon discover a dead end. They could not make it work the way it should. It was only chance that allowed Stamets to find a reliable solution, but to get there Glenn was lost with all hands.
By having no access to the scientific data Starfleet has to consider the spore drive just another failure like so many other FTL methods which had been tried over the years.

And BTW we do not talk about a huge conspiracy but about classified information. Do you know how many files from the Vietnam War or even World War II are still classified today? We know that the information of the Mirror Universe must have been declassified some time after Kirk’s encounter with it, because Bashir read about this encounter. But we do not know what else had been classified (and declassified) over the years.
And we should also not forget that only acouple of people in the Federation know the whole background of the events of season two: Pike, Spock, Una and Tyler. And these are people who know to keep a secret. They even lied to the Starfleet Command and told them that Discovery had been destroyed.

I don’t think it’s a question about right or wrong. I totally disagree with @aramis’s interpretation of the different timelines, but secrets are only hidden until they are not.

Maybe knowledge about Discovery is top secret. But that only means that it remains hidden or resurfaces as the plot demands it.

Everyone can interpret what “top secret” means. @aramis likes to wrap it in another timeline because they don’t think the secret can be kept. You (and I) say it can remain top secret and is part of the Prime timeline. Obviously the secret can be revealed if the plot says so.

So to each their own, I don’t think there is a clear right or wrong answer. You both provide interpretations that make sense in their own story.

Sorry, but the season 2 finale clearly said that “top secret” means. Memory Alpha wrote following in its synpopsis of the final episode: “Spock warns that the destruction of the Discovery does not entirely eliminate the problem, and suggests that to ensure nothing of this type can happen again, all participants in the event will be barred from ever speaking of the Discovery , her crew, or the spore drive again, under penalty of treason.” And the number of surviving participants is relative small: Po (she would not tell any one in order to keep her friends save), the Kelpiens (of those ony Siranna may know the real reasons), L’Rell and the cre of the Klingon cleave ship (the Klingons know more about the dangers of time travel than the Federation and will also keep quiet, even if they only do this to protect their Empire), Ash Tyler and the crew of the Enterprise. And of the crews of the surviving vessels only the commanding officers and bridge crew are generally in the know.
So the chance that some one will become a whistleblower is relative small. The Klingons will simply consider this dishonorable and kill a Klingon whistleblower. Starfleet will simply respond that this information is classified and persecute the whistleblower for treason (locking him away for life).
You should remember that every one knows that Discovery is not a simple secret like the Watergate but something that could end all life in the galaxy if they tell any one about it.
And BTW remember The Omega Directive? The existence of the omega molecule was succesfully kept secret for several decades. The crew of Voyager only learned about it because the ship sensors detected it and the computer briefed Janeway about it who then broke a lot of rules and regulations to tell the rest of the crew about it. And if they could keep such a dangerous thing secret for nearly a century, should they not be able to keep the real reasons for the destruction of Discovery secret for much longer? I wrote ‘destruction’ because only the participants of the finale battle know about Discovery escaping to the future. Pike, Spock, Una and Tyler lied to Starfleet Command!