Six Campaign Seeds for Space Stations

Star Trek Adventures is designed for starships warping around the galaxy, chasing down adventure on strange new worlds and contacting new life and new civilizations. One of the challenges in creating a campaign centered on a space station is a feeling of being stuck. What do your players do when you can’t head off into the final frontier? Well, here are a few ideas to consider.

I posted one idea with some meat already on it: setting your campaign in Narendra Station from the Star Trek Adventures living campaign setting. Perched on the edge of the Shackleton Expanse, this offers the same sort of thing that Deep Space Nine did to keep a series running. The Bajoran wormhole is something unique that makes adventure come to the station. Not everything needs to be about the wormhole but when you want a reason for something exciting to come from the outside there’s an obvious method for the writers to make that happen. The six campaign seeds below are in the same vein: there is a magnet for adventure that will bring plots to a space station. Not everything needs to involve this starting hook, but it’s a well that the GM can keep returning to.

City on the Edge
Picture © CBS

The Eye of the Oracle

A station on the Romulan frontier finds a site with Iconian ruins and a gate that looks through time.

The visions granted by the Bajoran Prophets was always a secondary part of DS9, but what if it was a major focus? This station is in orbit around a world which holds Iconian ruins, long-studied but recently attracting a lot of attention. When a new crew arrives at the station (the “pilot” of the series), a gateway structure amid the ruins mysteriously activates and begins to show visions of the past and future all around the galaxy. Though the “Oracle Gate” shuts off and only reactivates infrequently, a steady stream of archaeologists and religious pilgrims are now coming to visit. The crew needs to meet these folks and occasionally deal with unsavory types come to exploit the gate for their own purposes.

Then, there’s the constant threat of Romulan interference always hangs overhead. The Star Empire would love to get its hands on the Oracle Gate and they are clever enough to keep trying in new and inventive ways. Unless you feel like changing the course of the setting in big ways open warfare isn’t going to be part of the series, but deniable assets of the Tal Shiar and political manipulations by scheming Romulan senators are all appropriate peacetime events. Add to this the possibility that the chroniton fields of the Iconian gateway could create temporary fissures and pull through threats from other time periods, as well as the opportunity for the crew to travel as Iconian experts to other sites, and you have more than enough plot hooks to get a campaign going.

The Eadradian Frontier

A station positioned near a cluster of worlds that has its own alliance and refuses membership in the Federation.

Looking at the map of the galaxy printed in Star Trek Adventures, a few blobs of color stand out. The First Federation is one foreign region in the surrounded by Federation space, as is the Ferasan Patriarchy. This station is located near one of these regions, not terribly big but powerful because it contains an abnormally high number of dilithium-rich systems. The region is dominated by the Eadradians, a confrontational and impatient species who has forced several other species into an alliance that they dominate. Other worlds maintain a level of autonomy but at the cost of repeated concessions to the Eadradian Alliance.

There are a lot of details here to develop or to establish as the series goes on (similarly to how the Bajorans and Cardassians were fleshed out over the course of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). There are also complicated politics to explore if that’s your group’s interest: when the Eadradians commit some oppressive act or a group of refugees petition the station for sanctuary, what does the crew do? Can they risk damaging trade relations with an important dilithium source just as the situation with the Dominion is becoming critical? What about the Prime Directive and the Starfleet philosophy to not get involved with other civilizations’ internal matters? Amid all of this there are starships that arrive for servicing and bring trouble with them, Ferengi traders causing trouble when they dock, and personal conflict between crew members that leads to unexpected issues. It all comes back to the Eadradians in the end, though, which provides a grounding that gives the story purpose.

Starbase_375

Beyond the Far Horizon

A research base administers a massive subspace array on the verge of the Delta Quadrant.

With the Bajoran wormhole providing a fast avenue into the Gamma Quadrant, many have forgotten about the old-fashioned exploration that Starfleet did into the unknown. Deep space outposts provide support and coordination for long-term exploratory missions that push the boundary of the Federation and of scientific knowledge. This station is poised at the edge of the Delta Quadrant and is a hub for many different elements of Starfleet’s mission. They host diplomatic meetings with new species and they may even instigate first contact when small craft set out into the unknown. They equip starships heading out into uncharted space and some of the station’s crew may accompany those vessels for short missions to interesting sites. The station crew also meets those ships when they return from their missions, and they help to deal with whatever they brought back with the to Federation space or send out rescue missions when the ships go missing.

Being specifically at the edge of the Delta Quadrant also adds a few elements as well, of course. The station will be on the forefront of any renewed Borg activity advancing on the Federation and they might deal with species fleeing from Borg expansion. They are also in a position that is important if the campaign is set during the time that the U.S.S. Voyager is returning from the Delta Quadrant. The station might even be the ones to reestablish contact with the missing ship, opening up a new story arc and putting the station in the midst of Starfleet history.

Inter Arma

An engineering testbed that is forced into combat production during the Dominion War.

A lot of stations mentioned in Star Trek are research stations where scientists make big discoveries and test new technologies. Ordinarily these stations form a background element to the series, a place that the Enterprise visits or that sends researchers to look at the wormhole near Deep Space Nine. What about running a campaign which is entirely about those sites of research? This is a fun opportunity to let players run their own long-term projects in a side-game, managing the progress on their dream tech while the GM throws superstring anomalies, graviton waves, and other science-focused threats.

To add to this premise, the Dominion War offers an excellent way to mix things up. The need for new weapons and starship tech to face the Dominion shifts the focus of these stations from purely scientific pursuits to military ones. Tactical attachés are stationed there, military commanders and station commanders butt heads, and previously safe researchers become targets for foreign spies. Aside from giving the GM a whole new route for plot hooks, the element of war allows for non-research characters to join the crew. It can even allow for non-Starfleet crew if the GM wants to have the Romulans or Klingons send representatives to work alongside Federation researchers.

stds9

Symbiosis

The station is the main point of contact with a refugee people that need a new home and can offer Starfleet exciting new technologies.

They came from somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant, their homeworld destroyed by natural disaster or war. They are homeless and desperate, but once they had technologies that far outshone the best the Starfleet has to offer. It has been generations since they were able to call any place home but given the chance to rebuild they can create those wonders again and they are more than willing to share.

This species, we can call them the Nyka, are both a problem and an opportunity for the Federation. They have the blueprints for advanced and useful technologies if they are able to restore corrupted files and puzzle through the writings of ancients, but in order to make use of these things they need a lot of effort and risk on behalf of Starfleet. The new Nyka homeworld needs terraforming and in the meantime they need logistical support to hold their aging fleet together. The station is the center of this entire effort and so they are on the forefront when advances do come through, as well as when things take unexpected turns for the worse. They are the first (and sometimes only) line of defense protecting the Nykan data stores from would-be opportunists and they have to deal with rogue elements among the Nyka who violently oppose cooperation with any foreign entities.

Need to rebuild to recreate the wonders of their lousy homeworld. Chased by Borg? From another dimension?

On the Edge of Home

The station is Jupiter Station.

This is a simple but interesting set up for a campaign. Jupiter Station is alluded to throughout  Star Trek but it only shows up in a few episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. It’s important enough to be the site of Dr. Zimmerman’s project to create the EMH and it’s been a training facility since the days of the NX Project. It certainly isn’t the same station from the days of the original Enterprise and your version of Jupiter Station can follow whatever design and purpose you think of. Is it a defensive facility? A trade port? A giant complex with plenty of civilian residents? You decide!

What is established is the importance of the station and the opportunities for story that it offers. The Sol system is home to humanity but it’s also the capitol of the Federation and that makes it important. Mars and Luna are overshadowed by the importance of Earth but Jupiter Station is far enough out to be its own thing. There are plenty of reasons from security concerns to biological needs for some event to occur in the artificial environment of Jupiter Station rather than on Earth and the crew could find themselves acting as embassy staff to all sorts of species. Likewise, there is work to be done and research and you can easily imagine projects and personalities that would make the abrasice Dr. Zimmerman seem charming by comparison. Like Deep Space Nine, there’s a lot to manage on a station like this and you can expect the crew to have their hands full.

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