This was originally written for The British Fantasy Society.
Today is a good day to
die! game! And with that sentiment, Modiphius has published Star Trek Adventures: Klingon Core Rulebook to explore the cosmos from an entirely different perspective. This is as unique, as it is unexpected because the book is not a supplement building on the Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook. It is an entire game dedicated to the Klingons. According to the introduction, this book represents “another point of entry into the game,” and what better way to do it than the “intensely passionate” Klingons?
At first glance, the book is clean and colourful. Everything is laid out in bold colours on a white background making it easy to read but it never feels too forceful or busy. That same design approach holds for the book’s organization, although with a couple of hiccups.
One problem is that ‘honour’ is possibly the primary characteristic of all Klingons across their empire. Yet, its presence is used and important but felt like a support mechanism. Glory and Shame (both brilliantly conceived for this game), are effectively rewards or punishments based on whether or not some in-game action was “honourable” All of this makes sense, but this is just one example of where honour factors into the rules, albeit as a description, not a rule unto itself. Maybe honour could have been its section in Chapter 3 on Rules to emphasize its importance by collecting different components of the game that were driven by honour in one place, rather than dispersed through several chapters.
Another area that felt under-emphasized was “why are the Klingons flying out into space?” Honour for the Klingon Empire is surely part of it, but that’s a bit vague for the scope of the game. There is a sidebar on dictates (p. 80), but this probably should have a more prominent place or be expanded upon.
However, those sidebars are useful, and the book is loaded with great information on topics such as, but not limited to building starships, creating a Klingon House, sections detailing the Klingons’ history and culture, and recommended viewing for learning about the Klingons. Plus, if you’re already familiar with Star Trek Adventures, there’s a lot here that may not be immediately familiar, including an appendix just for a Klingon language resource! How cool is that?!
Something that should have been treated a bit more explicitly would have been how to reign games in when they veer out of control. At first glance, the Klingons would be easier to pick up and play because the prospect of violence as a last resort doesn’t exist. The Klingon Empire operates with a different moral compass than the Federation, to say the least. For the gaming table, this might be problematic, as there could be very little to convince players to try something other than destroying everything they encounter as glorious acts of conquest for the Empire. Despite any quibbles about the book, there’s no way this would have been better as a single sourcebook, and it begs the question as to whether or not there may be other core rulebooks like this in the future from Modiphius. Cross your fingers that the Romulans might be next? Here’s hoping that the group at Modiphius takes a shot at this. Star Trek has been synonymous with The Federation from its inception, and this core book takes Star Trek to bold new places by providing gamers with an alternate way to strike out into the unknown. The Klingon Core Rulebook is kind of a gutsy move, and it will be interesting to see what Modiphius creates with two core rulebooks for one game line. Even if this feels like a “game-within-a-game”, it’s a strong product. This is a great addition to Star Trek Adventures and considerably expands what the game line offers.