Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fantasy Trek Introduction, Overview, and FAQ

Have you ever wanted a Star Trek game that took in all aspects of Trek? Strategic multi-fleet deployement in a long-term campaign. Fleet versus enemy fleet. Ship-to-ship combat. Boarding parties facing off in the heat of battle. Starships in deadly cat and mouse orbital combat. Troops on the ground defending planets from ruthless enemies. And, of course, solid story-telling that has always been at the heart of Star Trek. Fantasy Trek is all of that and more. Using your unique skills in the Trek universe, whether they are tactical or strategic combat or problem-solving and RPG story-telling, you contribute to a no-limits perpetual Star Trek universe. There is no cost, no software to install, and no minimum system requirements. Fantasy Trek is an imagination-based PBEMMORPG(Play By Email Massively Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Game) that uses maps and online documents (available at, email, simple rules, and common six-sided dice (or a random number generator, also available at

Fantasy Trek is still gaining new levels and ways to play, but it has the potential to be a Star Trek game like you've never played before, because it is as intense and detail-oriented or casual as you like. It combines the idea of a writing/role-playing group with a quick-start, easy set-up dice-rolling game like Starfleet Battles. The more you play, the more experience points you get, and the better ship and more elite crew you command. While it is intended to be email-based, single-player rules are always included.

Quick Start Guide

To get started, answer the following questions:

Game Type:
Pure Combat
(Do you play for pure combat? You know that other events might decide the nature of that combat, but you just want to blow things up. And think about this: Do you like to micromanage combat, allocating power to personalize your attack/defence strategy, making combat a personal match of wits, or do you just like quick matches that can be over in minutes?)

(You don't care about the combat. You like to write and you want to explore.)

(You appreciate both aspects of game play. You accept that the ship you love to write about may lose battles from time to time.)

Other (specify)

Ship name:

Command crew:
(You can stick to the TOS crew configuration of science officer, helm, navigator, communications officer, etc, or you can use the TNG idea of Operations Officer combining some duties.You can also customize your bridge crew configuration. You're the Captain)

Note: unless you have something else in mind, all players in this stage of the game get a Heavy Cruiser to start. The 'something else in mind' I mentioned is if you decide you want a mission-specific ship like a scout or police ship, which is likely to be a frigate or destroyer. Just remember that you might be limiting yourself in a case like that. And don't be intimidated by the need to create a command crew. If you're a story-teller, you're used to this, but it isn't necessary to start. And if you're in it for pure combat, the command crew is recommended but not necessary.

That is really all you need to start. I will happily walk any new players through the first few missions. If you are concerned that you don't have enough time to contribute, don't be. This game is as casual as you want. Exploring takes as much or as little time as you want. Write once a day or once a week. A hundred words or a thousand. The most intense level of this game, heavy combat takes a commitment of no more than one email a day. And even in that case, if you miss a day, it's forgivable. Even the moderator has a RL and the occasional computer issue. The game is turn-based. Combat results will be posted online daily. And if it still doesn't make sense, think of it like your favorite role-playing/writing group gathering for some table-top game playing.

General Description of Game
Fantasy Trek combines elements of writing/role-playing games (where people write together as the crew of a starship) with dice-rolling table-top games like Starfleet Battles to be an online, Play-By-Email, perpetual community where exploration and story-telling go hand-in-hand with exciting combat. Players can choose from Combat, Non-Combat, or Mixed game types, using the vast resources of Star Trek on the internet. All that is required to play is an internet connection, an email account, a simple text editor (like Wordpad) and six-sided dice. Combat players use simple rules and text-based STD's (Starship Technical Database's) to fight their way through conflict resulting from the exciting storyline. Non-Combat players will take command of their own starships and consult planetary classification and random planetary mission guides as they contribute to and expand the same storyline as the Combat players.

Combat Game
The Combat game in Fantasy Trek actually takes more than one form. If you like your combat fast and decisive, Simplified Combat is for you. Roll two six-sided dice and apply a multiplier depending on your class of ship. Allocate your available points between offense and defense, then see how you match up against your opponent. The simplified combat game is also great for large scale fleet engagements that otherwise might take weeks to resolve.

Heavy Combat incorporates rules for movement and electronic warfare, as well as offense and defense, and uses STD's (Starship Technical Database's) so that players can micromanage their ship-to-ship combat much like Starfleet Battles. Incorporating rules for boarding parties means that you can work outside of the box with hit and run raids or attempts to capture your enemy and keep your prize after the battle is over.

Ground Combat/Boarding Party
Part of the Combat Game involves beaming your crew down to a planet or on board an enemy starship. When that happens, a simple roll of the dice, using a simple text-based template, allows you to secure an area on a planet or, if you've led a team of security specialists onto an enemy ship to conduct hit and run raids to destroy vital systems or to capture the ship.

The rules are simple. If you are conducting combat on a planet's surface, the opposing player, (or the moderator, if you are facing an NPC) will state the number of opposing troops being utilized. The rules are nearly the same for boarding party actions. Shields must be down to allow transport (and they remain down for that turn). Each ship has a limited number of troops that can be used for defense (based on the STD). In the case of hit and run attempts, the attacker allocates the number of troops for each system being attacked, and the defending player (or moderator, in the case of an NPC) allocates defenders appropriately. In a capture attempt, it's every available attacker versus every available defender. The Ground Combat/Boarding Party Template explains the sequence of play.

No Combat
Almost every Star Trek game out there is big on combat but doesn't let you choose how to approach a challenge. Fantasy Trek fills that gap. If you're happier role-playing and writing, or if all the complex rules take the fun out of things, or you just don't enjoy combat, you can still take part in what is actually the most important part of Fantasy Trek. A good story is essential to any good game, and that is doubly true for Fantasy Trek. As an imaginative writer, you will have the opportunity to explore a limitless Trek universe, and, as you gain experience, take a more active roll in shaping the Fantasy Trek experience that other players share.

The Mixed Game
The Mixed game is the full Fantasy Trek experience. You create your crew, put them on a ship, and, as the storyline takes you (or you take the storyline!), explore and sometimes fight your way through a perpetual fan community-driven Star Trek universe. Just as most movies and episodes combine intriguing exploration with nail-biting combat, so does the Fantasy Trek Mixed game. As you gain experience through play, you'll have the opportunity to command fleets that chart the unknown reaches of the galaxy, or fight the good fight closer to home. You'll also have the chance to make major additions to the storyline.

How It All Works Together
Fantasy Trek combines the creativity of a writing/role-playing game with the excitement of a turn-based multilevel simulation game. Based on their own preferences, players can write an exciting ongoing storyline, maneuver and position fleets, go head to head with other starships, and/or lead teams of security specialists on away missions. Any level of Star Trek that you can imagine can be played. Players who want to do nothing but write can shape the perpetual storyline that combat fans fight their way through. And ambitious admirals can position pieces on a galactic gameboard as they gain more playing experience. And since the game is free and not licensed, resources from all the Trek-Information on the internet is fair game for players. That means that there is almost no limit to the resources available, or the directions the game can be taken. Fantasy Trek combines imaginative game playing, the vast resources of the internet, and solid story-telling that has always been at the heart of Star Trek. It is an unlimited perpetual Star Trek Experience.

So how does it all work together? When you sign up for Fantasy Trek, you'll first decide if you want combat, story-telling, or both. Then you'll get your ship and crew. If you just want to write, you can write your way into the storyline. If you enjoy combat, you'll soon find yourself going into combat that fits into and will eventually help to shape the storyline that everyone else is taking part in. As you play more, you gain experience points that allow combat players access to better ships, and all players a greater ability to shape the storyline. It may sound complicated, but it's really as simple as immersing yourself into everything you've always loved about Star Trek and joining a community that wants to do the same.

Command College
Command College gives players of all game types the ability to increase their experience points by demonstrating their tactical acumen and/or storytelling ability. Weekly challenges will come in two forms:

"What Are Your Orders, Captain?" is a tactical 'you make the call' challenge. You'll read a short scenario and have two possible solutions. Choose one, or suggest a third. Every entry gets one Command College point. Ten of those gets you an experience point. Here is a sample:

What Are Your Orders, Captain?

"Should I Stay Or Should I Go?"
Upon emerging from the chokepoint, the Agamemnon had firing
solutions drawn up to target the three attack ships waiting for it. The Galaxy Class ship was able to disable all three ships in moments, and was preparing to warp out of the system when a fourth threat presented itself. A mobile shipyard had apparently been hidden behind a cloaking barrier generated by the three KaVort'cha's. Power level scans showed that it was twelve hours from producing and launching another KaVort'cha. Further, it was estimated that another ship could be produced every twenty-four hours. Acknowledging that the Agamemnon could not destroy the shipyard by itself, Captain Decker quickly reasoned that they could either:

1) Attempt to board and disable the station with elite 'Hazard Team' forces, or,
2) Warp out and hope to return with a task force capable of destroying the shipyard and securing the vital Archer system.

While considering these, take into account that the three KaVort'cha's are only disabled. If the Hazard Team takes too long, the three ships could repair and threaten the Agamemnon again. Alternately, if the Agamemnon leaves the area, they'll have no idea of what to expect when they return. You may also suggest a third course of action.

"Captain's Log" is as simple as expanding a one or two line challenge into a log entry of at least one hundred words. Here's a sample:

The Challenge:
"Two Federation freighters emerged damaged and unescorted from the Antedan nebula"

The Log Entry:
(TOS era) USS Alexander Nevsky patrolling trade routes between Eminiar and Coridan. Captain Rasmussen recording. We picked up a scorched recorder/marker buoy that seems to come from the same area where the USS Abigail Adams disappeared last week. The Abigail Adams was escorting three freighters carrying medical supplies to treat plague victims on Coridan when it vanished. The two surviving freighters were gutted and drifting on momentum. Hopefully the recorder/marker will answer some questions.

Supplemental entry; The log recovered from the recorder marker left us with an even larger mystery. Two days before the Adams was destroyed, it encountered an unidentified ship that the computer designated as a frigate. After attempting to contact the frigate, the Adams suffered a massive computer malfunction that infected the tactical systems. With the crew incapable of preventing the tragedy, the computer on the Adams destroyed the frigate and began to fire at the freighters. The crew finally managed to disable computer control of weapons, but that resulted in a self-destruct sequence being triggered. At that point, the recorder/marker was deployed. It can only be assumed that the explosion pushed the two surviving but gutted freighters out of the nebula.

That's all there is to it. Each one gets you a Command College point, and ten Command College points get you one experience points.

Experience Points: How to Get Them and What They Get You

One experience point rewarded for:
Five Heavy Combat engagements or
Ten Basic Combat engagements or
Five post-length (100+ words each) log entries
Ten successful (your assessment matches the majority assessment) "What Are Your Orders, Captain?'", "Captain's Log", or other Command College exercises

Five Points= "Experienced"
Ten Points= "Veteran"
Twenty-Five Points= "Elite"
Fifty Points= "Legendary"

Rewards for Experience Points:
Heavy Combat: Five 'Hero Points'*/Flash-Detect cloaked vessel at range four with 10 sensor points
Basic Combat: Initial five points extra
Ground Combat/Boarding Party: Extra 1d6 roll added to ranks
All Game Types: One extra ship of Light Cruiser or lower class

Heavy Combat: Seven "Hero Points"*/Flash-Detect cloaked vessel at range four with 10 sensor points
Basic Combat: Initial seven points extra
Ground Combat/Boarding Party: Extra 2d6 rolls added to ranks
All Game Types: One extra ship of equal or lower class

Heavy Combat: Ten "Hero Points"*/Flash-Detect cloaked vessel at range four with 10 sensor points
Basic Combat: Initial ten points extra
Ground Combat/Boarding Party: Extra 3d6 roll added to ranks
All Game Types: Two extra ships of equal or lower class

Heavy Combat: Fifteen "Hero Points"*/Flash-Detect cloaked vessel at range four with 10 sensor points
Basic Combat: Initial fifteen points extra
Ground Combat/Boarding Party: Extra 5d6 roll added to ranks
All Game Types: Freedom to create as many ships as you can handle
Game-wide access to contributing/editing scenarios
Moderator status consideration

*"hero point"= one opportunity to turn faster, repair a system quicker by one turn, restore a shield box in a single turn.

Multipliers For Experience In Ground Combat/Boarding Party Action
In ground or boarding party:
Presence of Captain adds a point to each die rolled
Presence of Security Chief adds a point to each die rolled
Presence of CMO removes 1pt damage per crew per round
Presence of Science Officer gets past system-specific security codes
Presence of Communications Officer translates any alien language

Just a disclaimer on the maps. Every map featured in Fantasy Trek comes downloaded from various sources on the internet. Most were previously posted, (by persons unknown) from scanned maps from the "Star Trek Starcharts". I take no credit for any of these, nor do I intend any copyright infringement. I have simply assembled previously posted material here for quick and easy reference.


Q: Why are the stardates four-digit TOS stardates?
A: For convenience. In this case, the stardate doesn't refer to the date something takes place in the Star Trek universe. It refers to the date it takes place in Fantasy Trek. Therefore, an event that takes place on the TNG era can have the same date as something that takes place on the TOS era, or the ENT era. The format is mmyy.dd: September 22 2008 reads as 0908.22

Q: Okay, I want to play, but I don't know how to start.
A: Consult the Quick Start Guide, but here is a rundown. Pick an era (TOS, TNG, Voyager, ENT), pick a side, create a ship, and create a bridge crew. Decide what kind of game you want to play (combat, non-combat, mix). Pick a region of space. Plot your own course/mission, or request a mission within the perpetual storyline. If you want to simply write your adventures, you can do that. If you want to explore a planet, advise the moderator, and he'll point you in the right direction. If you want to go into combat, choose simplified or heavy. You can either roll and decide for both sides, or play against another player or the moderator. Go for it. Read the archives to see what we do, and really, it's just that easy. If you want to be surprised by things as you go through space, roll a die. You have a 50% chance of meeting another ship. If you do, you have a 50% chance of it being friendly. If it is friendly, you can decide to have combat drills. Roll to see what class of ship you're taking on. Roll 1 and it's Frigate. Roll 2 and it's a Destroyer. Roll 3 and it's a Light Cruiser. Roll 4 and it's a Heavy Cruiser. Roll 5 and it's a Dreadnought. Decide on Simplified or Heavy Combat. In addition, a cloaked sneak attack gives you one extra die to roll initially. That's when a bit of patience comes in. One roll per day minimum. More if both agree. And we're on the honor system. There's no point to cheating, because the only reward for winning is satisfaction.

Q: I can't post on the blog site.
A: Moderators post all log entries to the Blog site. It serves as a public archive. Members post log entries to the Yahoo Group. Members can also post on the blog site via the 'comment' feature.

Q: I hate the verification process for posting comments on the blog site.
A: Sorry. It helps to keep out spambots and other lower lifeforms.

Q: How fast do ships travel?
A: Not an issue here, really, at least while there are so few players. Space is big. If pressed, I'd say ten lightyears a day.

Q: Is this a game, or is it story-telling?
A: Both. Star Trek has always been about story-telling and exciting combat. This is the first game (that I know) that involves both. Both Combat and Non-Combat play gives you experience points, which can greatly enhance your game. For details, consult "Experience Points: How To Get Them And What To Do With Them".

Q: How many ships can I run at once?
A: Moderators can run as many as they like. The first five regular players to sign up can start with a maximum offive. After that, consult the Experience Points Table.

Q: What kind of ship do I start with?
A: Your first ship is a heavy cruiser.That provides you with enough muscle to learn your way around the galaxy. Of course, players are encouraged to try other classes. Things can get boring if there are nothing but heavy cruisers.

Q: I can't think of anything interesting for my ship to do.
A: Well, that's where creativity comes in. But if you're stuck, either say so (and we'll give you something to deal with), or encounter a planet and roll to pick out a random planetary mission.

Q: Random Planetary Missions?
A: Consult the Random Planetary Mission chart.

Q: Can I customize my own ship?
A: "Template" ships will soon be added to the Starship Library. They will contain basic spaceframes, with a few guidelines (to avoid the whole 'super-ship' trap) as for how many weapons ports and power restrictions. That will also form the basis of pirate and alien ships.

Q: What is the minimum level of participation?
A: There isn't one. Players are asked to do 'something' once a week minimum, and moderators are expected to keep a handle on things. But this is just a game, and we all have RL's, so there are no minimum participation standards. Do as much as you like and have time for.

Q: What if I think someone has cheated in a dice roll?
A: Since nothing can really be verified, the parties will (if they cannot reconcile the issue) not play together anymore. That should eliminate any serial-cheaters.

Q: What about Flame Wars?
A: There is a zero-tolerance policy for any flaming/verbal abuse/intolerance. If you hate it so much that you can't play nice, this isn't the place for you. If you've had a rotten day and posted without thinking, publicly apologize, and if the offended party forgives you, things will probably be okay. Everyone makes mistakes. On the other hand, if the owner decides that something justifiesimmediate removal, that can happen. And this isn't the place for politics/religion/chain emails. Remember that something that is great and/or important to you might offend someone else. They will be deleted. Anything like that should be privately emailed. Game related out-of-character posts (like questions/suggestions) are fine, but should include 'OOC' in the subject header.

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