STA – Episode 7 – The Wandering Child

Adventure number seven in my ongoing Star Trek Adventures campaign was “The Wandering Child”. This adventure is out of the old Task Force Games “Prime Adventures 1” journal/module. I ran this one years ago in my old FASA Star Trek campaign. It’s available as a PDF on DriveThru RPG.

I hadn’t planned on running this adventure in my current campaign, but I also hadn’t planned on a pandemic forcing me to cancel all my face to face gaming either.

I had not tried on-line gaming before, other than a few forum based text games, but I decided to give it a try. The RPG Alliance group had set up a Discord server, and a Roll20 account that I could use so I decided to give it a shot.

For my first attempt at on-line gaming, I wanted a fairly simple adventure that would make use of a map and wasn’t very long. I knew that a lot of time could be spent on learning how to use the tools and I still wanted to be able to finish up in our usual five hour time frame.

The Wandering Child fit the bill. It’s a fairly basic plot, the characters beam over to a seemingly abandoned ship, all the power on the ship gets cut off, and they can’t get in contact with their own ship. It becomes a basic sort of dungeon crawl with them trying to figure out how to escape, and what has happened. There are several optional encounters, and it is very easy as the GM to control how many difficulties the PC’s will run into.

The first step was setting up a Discord account. It wasn’t as simple as it should have been and I ended up with three accounts, two “unclaimed” ones which should eventually go away, apparently their isn’t a way to delete them, and one usable account.

Roll20 was easy to set up an account on. I set up a free account for myself and Vicki set me up as a Gamemaster for a game on the RPG Alliance’s Plus account. She also set up some Tokens for the Players. These were created using Token Stamp 2, which I also used to created additional Tokens later. It’s very easy to use, and it’s free, always a bonus.

These go put on a dedicated Tokens sheet in Roll20, along with a couple of Ship tokens, and a background image of the Transporter room of the ship.

Each Player in my campaign has two characters, and I didn’t know ahead of time which character each would choose to send on the Away Team. When we were playing, I just had them move the character they chose to the Transporter pad, then I could do a group select and copy, then “beam” them over to the Ship sheet.

I also created an additional GM Tokens page where I put copies of the tokens from the Players page, in case anyone accidentally deleted themselves, as well as additional tokens I had made that I might use in the adventure.

I loaded images of the maps of the ship into Roll20, just using the Windows Snip tool to grab them out of the PDF of the Prime Adventures module.
I added a few extra pieces of furniture in the room with the transporter pad using the built in resources in Roll20. These were mentioned in the descriptions in the module, but not on the map itself. And, since all the lights go out just after the characters arrive, I thought it would be nice to include what they saw in the first brief glance. Roll20 has three layers that you can work with, a Map and Background layer, which is generally for items that stay put, am Objects and Tokens layer for items that can move around, and a GM Info Overlay layer, where the GM can put notes or other things that the Players don’t see. It’s also handy for placing NPC tokens that the players might not notice right away. You can then click on the tokens or objects and choose to move them to the Object and Token layer where they become visible.

The other handy feature is “Fog of War”, which allows you to blank out areas on the sheet from the Players and reveal them slowly. I blanked out the entire map except for the main room.

The GM view looks like this:

All the Players see is this:

The other step that was done before Game Day was to set up the Player Character Sheets, and for me to create sheets for my NPCs.

There is an official Star Trek Adventures Character Sheet which you choose when you are setting up the game.

The nice thing about using the sheet is it does most of the game specific calculations for dice rolls for you. You can open up your character, pop the screen out if you want so it doesn’t obscure the map, click on the Attribute you want to use, click on the Discipline you want to use and check off if you have a focus that applies. If the Complication Range is more than the default “1”, you can click the new range, likewise if you purchased additional dice to roll, you can click how many dice you are using in the Task Roll. In this example, I picked Reason and Engineering, and I changed the number of dice for the Task Roll from 2 to 3.

Once you have made your selection, you just need to click the Star Fleet logo in the box on the Task Roll line and it will roll the dice and post the results in the Chat Box as well as showing the dice on the map if you have that feature turned on.

Successes are shown as a “1” or a “2” if a critical success is obtained. Failures are shown as “0” and if it is in the Complication range (usually a “20”) then the zero is shown in purple.

Here is a roll Terry made which had a critical success, two regular successes, and one failure. Jonathan’s assist roll was a failure with a complication.

The character sheets have a similar set up for Weapons, or other rolls that use the six sided Effect dice, but I won’t go through all the details here. Suffice it to say, using the character sheets is definitely worthwhile, and all you really need to fill in is your Attributes, Disciplines, and weapons if you want to automate rolling for them.

The main adversary in the adventure is called a Siren Bug. I had to create this for Star Trek Adventures based on the information in the module. Toni Pi at “Continuing Mission“, a fan site for the Star Trek Adventures RPG, created a set of “Menagerie Cards” which allow you to choose one Evolution card, one Predation card, and one Ethology card and combine them to create a creature. There are twenty of each type of card. I went through and picked out the best matches for the description of the Siren Bug.

Siren Bug

I changed the “Fire Breath” to Sonic Blast and created a Character sheet in Roll20 for the Bugs.

I also created several other NPCs, with tokens and character sheets, but I didn’t end up using them. I also created a sheet with the deck plans for the Players Nova Class ship and the Deck plans for the Cargo Pod portion of the freighter. Again, I didn’t end up using those in the adventure either, but I’m sure I will make use of them in the future.

We also had card decks for tracking Determination, Momentum, and Threat. Thanks Vicki!

I updated a few elements of the adventure to fit my campaign and the Next Gen time period a little better. In the original module, the crew is mostly Andorian, and they are particularly sensitive to the Siren Bugs. I changed this to be Ferengi instead, although I decided that Andorians and Caitians would be susceptible as well, taking lethal damage instead of non-lethal damage.

It may sound like a lot of preparation, but considering I usually print out maps, or paint miniatures, or do any number of other things if I run a game in person, I don’t think the prep time was much different than any of the other sessions I have run.

On game day itself, it did take around 45 minutes to get everyone logged in, do a little explanation on how to use the character sheets and a few other features on Roll20. One player had some technical difficulties with her microphone and ended up having to use the chat box to talk to us. Fortunately she could still hear everyone, so it worked out reasonably well.

The adventure started up where the previous one left off. The crew is following the Borg Cube on sensors as it opens a transwarp conduit and heads back to Borg space. However, opening the conduit further disturbs the electomagnetic and gravimetric eddies that exist in the Shackleton expanse, creating storm like conditions. The Kimura’s sensors pick up a cargo ship, “The Wandering Child”, heading directly towards the storm.

They are unable to establish communications with the cargo ship, although all indications are that a channel has been successfully opened and they should be able to respond.

The “Kimura” sets course to intercept, doing several scans as they approach. The systems on “The Wandering Child” seem to working okay, but no life signs are picked up, other than a few faint indistinct readings, which could be caused by the interference in the area.

They catch up to the cargo ship and manage to lock a tractor beam onto it and bring it to a halt, however, it’s engines are still going at near full power. They don’t shut down, but the ship also doesn’t attempt any maneuvering to break free. It seems to be mindless attempting to continue on it’s original course.

Captain T’Kor decides to send an away team over to investigate.

The Away Team consists of:

  • Cmd O’Nnyah, the Caitian Chief Medical Officer
  • Lt. Cmd. Taemin Rahn, the Betaziod Operations Manager
  • Lt. Cmd. Reittan Andreas, the Human/Betaziod Security Officer
  • Ensign Wolfgang Ratzel, the Human Technician/Combat Engineer
  • Lt. Cmd. Rowan Tonelli, the Human Chief Engineer
  • Cmd. Xedrik, the Science Officer

They successfully beam over, but almost immediately all the lights go out and they are left in the dark.

They spend a little time finding light sources, pulling a couple out from the Medical and Engineering kits, then jury rigging one of the tricorders to serve as a spot light. They also find a locker that has an emergency lantern, as well as an airlock with a couple of suits, one standard humanoid size, and one smaller one. It’s sized for a Ferengi although they don’t know that at the time.

They eventually get to opening the door to the Auxiliary Control room, with Lt. Cmd. Andreas in the lead. He immediately gets blasted by a Siren Bug, which is enough to cause Dr. O’Nnyah to drop to her knees and cover her ears even though she is half way across the other room.

Fortunately (i.e. buying an “Avoid Injury”), Andreas is able to partially reclose the door with one hand, blocking most of the blast, and shoot from the hip with the other hand completely nailing the bug.

Looking back, I can see that on Andreas’s Character sheet, he has his Security value of 5 included in the value of 8 entered for the Type 2 Phaser, which is typically what we do on the paper sheets. However, the Online Character sheet does that addition on it’s own, so it ended up added an extra 5 dice. Oops! However, to be fair, I did the same thing with the Siren Bug.

That would turn out to be the only combat during the adventure. Right near the end, they did find two more in a state of hibernation on the roof of the shuttlecraft the PC’s were going to use to escape. The shuttlebay was in vacuum so Ensign Ratzel used one of the suits that they found in the first scene to go into the shuttlebay, have one of the other characters open the bay doors a little, and basically tossed the bugs out the bay doors.

Before their escape, they investigated the ship, found that the Bridge had been breached and was in vacuum, managed to get some battery power restored. The Caitian Doctor was often the first token to move into newly revealed spaces, particularly the storage lockers, resulting in several “Cats in closets” jokes. 🙂

They eventually figured out that they had moved through a rift into an alternate universe where the laws of physics were different, so most complicated equipment including ship engines would not work. Maneuvering thrusters did work though, and they used these on the shuttle to get back through the rift and back into their own universe.

I was happy with the way the session went. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Online gaming will certainly never take the place of face to face gaming for me, but it is a great option to have when face to face isn’t available.

It looks like our next session will also be online, I’ll use Roll20 again, but this time we are going to try Zoom for the audio portion, and possibly include video of the players and GM.

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  1. Pingback: STA Mission Report 08 - The Wandering Child : Brent's Basement

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