A few weeks ago, Ron and I met online to record a discussion about the word ‘story’ but unfortunately technology let us down. One thing that grew out of having that conversation, however, was the notion that we really should try to carve out a time and choose a game to play together. That game turned out to be Star Trek Adventures. I am very glad for a chance to return to STA, although the irony of the two of us selecting a game that is so far from my preferred approach to play is not lost on me. The prospect of an original series era campaign is exciting, however, so: Warp Speed Ahead! Not long afterward, the very interesting Trek and Me video appeared, and not long after that a group was assembled from compatible time zones to play.
Play was delayed by a week which turned out to be for the best as it gave us more opportuntunies for the players to get a sense of each other, and for me to gather resources to help support that all-important sense of size, shape, and crew to the ship. It also gave some time to ponder about what was ahead.
The first session ran on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 and fortunately technology did not fail us. Although there are many options these days for Virtual Table Tops with a variety of visual and automation assets which can handle dice rolling and display, card draws, rules pop ups, with pool and point tracking and use, I have noted that this introduces a barrier to learning the game, affects imagination, and increases the workload on the host. There are distinct advantages too, but in this case they negatives for me outweighed them. As a result, we have a low-tech approach to play which no doubt detracts from the viewing experience, but serves the purpose and matches the feel and concept of friends (and potential friends) gathering together to play.
The first session constitutes a pilot both literally and figuratively. It is a test of concept and things done during the number of sessions which will form that episode (2 or 3?) may or may not continue into the campaign itself. This includes thngs such as the basic elements such as the traits of the characters all the way up to specific GM techniques. Session 0 can only go so far, and some practical testing and flexibility in early sessions can go that little bit farther to help make adjustments for a satisfying game – if one can be had.
This first session introduced the Main Cast and the first mission in their new duty assignment of Crisis Response. In the briefest of terms, we had an opportunity for some insight into each character and then then encountered the perplexing and threatening situation which sets up that first mission: a deserted hospital ship, an outpost being torn apart by tremendous tectonic activity, and a chilling message from the surface: “You’ve killed us all! Why did you do it?” I am really looking forward to seeing where the players take us from there!
Ongoing ‘Play’ Begins
After play, a few reflections were made on the experience of that first session. These are optional and are recorded in isolation before watching the AP video or the reflections videos of others. I like to encourage this process, in whatever way a player chooses to pursue it, in order to deepen the learning experience and help reveal more of what is realing going on under imagined skies and in the minds of each participant. These are usually not exhaustive analyses, generally featuring the more important things on the players’s minds.Ideally, we do them right after play. Discussion, once we have viewed each others’ reactions and reflections, proceeds from there. For a campaign like this, at first, I think there is a lot to say about the first session, so I hope that each player will contribute some feedback and reflection on play, but as it goes on I expect these reflections to work on the episode level rather than the session level.
The reason for this is the duration of play. A window of 2 hours is available for each session and some of that will of course be used up by getting ready and the social aspects of play. It can’t all be phasers and styrofoam rocks! For my part, after each session I will be contributing a summarized version of events in recap videos to let those who cannot stand or have no time to watch other people play in on the events and decisions that arose from play and how the system and our intentions facilitated or interfered with that.
One alternate version of the reflections video that we have started doing as isolated topics for separate recordings is for the GM, the What were you thinking? video, as I call it. We started doing these for the Circle of Hands actual play series. These videos tend to focus on the rationale behind NPC decisions or the use of a specific technique in play. I find these helpful to produce in order to highlight shortcomings of language in explaining myself or points of assumption (as opposed to interaction) that occured. They are perhaps more useful in helping the group find common ground and to learn to read each other better.
As an effort to connect specifically with things here at Adept Play, I have isolated the pre and post game conversation into its own video. The second half of this was retained on the Actual Play video of the session, but the first part was trimmed out to speed viewers’ ability to get into the action. If nothing else, this is just a way to look at how a group interacts during a game when they aren’t engaged in the game part of the game~
As it stands, an unusually high number of videos were produced for this first session, but I am taking that as a sign of enjoyment in the opportunity that this campaign represents for fun and discovery.
Watch Ron’s opening credits
Where will things go from here? Who can say? I have hopes that we will be able to keep schedules synced and interest high long enough to move through what might be considered a Season of our imaginary Series, and thereby feel a measure of completion with this ship and its crew while demonstrating the particular elements that make the game do what it is does – but more on that later.