Review: Modiphius Entertainment – Captain’s Log (Star Trek Adventures)

Captain’s Log
Captain’s Log is a standalone, solo roleplaying game based on the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, written by Michael Dismuke, Rachel Cruz, Nathan Dowdell, Keith Garrett, John Kennedy, Fred Love, Chris McCarver, Aaron M. Pollyea, Jacob Ross, and Al Spader and published by Modiphius Entertainment.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about Captain’s Log here
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Captain’s Log is marketed as a Solo Roleplaying Game, but it’s really two books in one. The second half of the book is definitely a Solo Roleplaying Game, although it also supports multi-player storytelling with or without a GM. The first half is a high-level, detailed overview about what makes Star Trek in all its forms, and by extension the RPG, so unique – hope, diversity, and inclusion. Although the purpose is to provide the guidance one may need to develop a memorable game, it also serves a great primer for everything Star Trek Adventures related.

Let’s start with the first half of the book.

The Star Trek setting is vibrant, full of life, and filled with decades of canon. You can’t boil that down into a single sourcebook that only fills half of Captain’s Log, so what you get instead is a delve into what makes Star Trek the setting that it is. This covers a wide array of subjects including environment (the non-physical environment such as social, emotional, and political aspects), timeline, technology, species, missions, play styles, and of course what makes a character within the game (effectively creating mechanical representations of all those other subjects). Granted, creating a character is part of the solo RPG, but really it’s a way of bringing the setting and all it’s color into your gameplay. Captain’s Log, like Star Trek Adventures, is powered by the 2d20 system and creating your characters is achieved in much the same fashion. However, Captain’s Log is meant to support all Star Trek settings and thus provides a multitude of options so that you can choose which era to play in.

Now for the RPG part of it.

Captain’s Log is not the type of Solo RPG that I was envisioning. It is literally a blank slate with no overarching structure. Instead, you create the mission and all of its aspects right before you step into that mission. This can be done through a plethora of random-roll tables which you can roll against or choose your own. And then you fill in all the blanks, effectively creating your own story (i.e. a captain’s log much like what you hear in the shows). The rules also include a large amount of guidance on how to resolve complications, run your starship, perform different types of missions, interact with your crew, etc. Conflicts are resolved using a 2d20, but since your not rolling against anyone, your own roll determines the outcome. Although it’s not that cut-and-dry as there are opportunities to create memorable interactions using Momentum and Complications. These rules provide you with the guidance on how to overcome those interactions based on the results of your roll (Success, Failure, Momentum, and Complications).

Keep in mind, this is A LOT of rules for creating a solo gameplay, but it’s ultimately a large set of guidance to make your game smooth, allow you to complete a mission, and allow you to continue from one mission to another. This creates a huge opportunity for Modiphius Entertainment. First, it gives the power of this type of storytelling to the reader who can play alone or with a group of friends (without the need for a GM). Second, it provides all the rules and guidance the development crew (or community created) needs to create solo missions. I personally think it would detract from the spirit of Captain’s Log play style if structured missions were developed, but I can see short one- or two-page missions that are basically a brief background and a series of prompts to get you into the mission. Very little would be provided as you would fill in all the blanks while you move through the mission. Think of it as a briefing where the person providing the instruction only knows what’s happened so far and doesn’t know what will happen next or how to resolve the situation.

Captain’s Log is definitely not for the casual solo RPG player. It requires much more management progress monitoring. This is not even close to Choose Your Own Adventure or where you flip from one section to the next to determine the outcome of your failed or successful roll. Instead, the power is placed squarely into your hands using the guidance provided to see if the mission is completed successfully. This is a style I was not expecting, but I think fans of Star Trek Adventures will enjoy it. You can even go on a solo mission in between your normal Star Trek Adventures sessions! Such as justifying character growth.

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