There’s another sourcebook out for Star Trek Adventures and this time we’re headed beyond the bounds of the Federation entirely. Having covered the main areas of the Star Trek universe, we’re now through the Bajoran wormhole and into the Gamma Quadrant.
This review originally appeared on the fansite Continuing Mission.
The default setting in the Star Trek Addventures core rulebook is for 2371, around the time of Star Trek Generations and the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In the Beta Quadrant Sourcebook and Alpha Quadrant Sourcebook, that timeline got advanced to 2372 with Klingons withdrawing from the Khitomer Accords before the Dominion War.
In this book we get information up through the Dominion War itself, the end of 2374 which covers the seventh season of Deep Space Nine as well. There’s a sidebar covering the end of the war too, and since Star Trek: Insurrection also occurs in 2374 there’s information on the Son’a and Ba’ku as a surprise bonus. There’s just a lot going on here so let’s unpack!
The biggest chapter of the book is on the Gamma Quadrant layout and territory, which obviously just means the Dominion. The history of the changelings and how they established the Dominion for their own protection. It summarizes a lot of what you already know from the seven seasons of Deep Space Nine but also delves into a significant amount of expanded universe stuff.
While we know from the shows that the Hur’q are from the Gamma Quadrant, this book details an early conflict between the Hur’q and the Dominion. As far as I can tell this is only mentioned in Star Trek Online but it’s a great concept and the authors use the opportunity to answer some unanswered questions about the quadrant. There’s also more detail provided on the political structure of the Dominion from the Founders to their immediate servants the Vorta and Jem’Hadar. To this, the authors add the Drai (known on the series as Hunters) to the Dominion hierarchy, and therefore the Tosk also make an appearance. The Karemma have a slightly elevated position from what I remember on the show while the Dosi and Yaderans are still a minor species. The Paradans and Rakhari are described but they live outside the Dominion while the T-Rogorans are conquered and the Skreeaa are scattered.
If you thought the Gamma Quadrant was just changelings, Vorta, Jem’Hadar and a lot of space, these species might come as a surprise. It’s clear, though, that the authors have not only delved deep into Star Trek lore but put a lot of thought into making this a viable and coherent setting that you can tell your own stories in. The Culture of the Dominion section is especially useful in my mind, outlining how and why the Dominion is the way it is. If you ever wondered what motivations the Vorta have, what the L-shaped emblem of the Dominion is all about, and what membership in the Dominion actually offers then you can find answers here.
Lastly, a number of different worlds in the Dominion’s sphere of influence are detailed in the book, each getting about a page of info. The Argratha system, the Founders’ Homeworld, the Hur’q outpost from the “Sword of Kahless” episode, Kurill Prime (the political capital of the Dominion), Meridian, Oason (birthplace of the Wadi), the penal moon from the episode “Battle Lines,” as well as the homeworlds of the Skreeaa, Drai, Teplans, and Yaderans.
To bring it home to your campaign, there’s also a discussion of the Dominion’s allies on the other side of the Bajoran wormhole: the Cardassians and Breen, obviously, but also the Orion Syndicate, the Kzin Patriarchy, Pakleds, Miradorn, and (in an intriguing twist) the Son’a and their slave races. Most of these, of course, are speculation but they give some really interesting options for campaigns. There’s also discussion of why the Tholians, Gorn, and Nausicaans might want to ally with the Dominion and why groups like the Talarians, Nyberrite Alliance, Ferengi, and First Federation might want to fight alongside the Federation against them. Bringing new faces into the Dominion War is exactly the sort of angle that can let you make this storyline your own and not just playing in DS9‘s shadow.
The Dominion War
A good chunk of this book is given over to the real reason the Dominion’s on everyone’s mind: the Dominion War. A lot of plots in Star Trek are handled only in general terms in Star Trek Adventures sourcebooks, but this time they cover it in minute detail. From initial contact with the Dominion’s subjects, to meeting the Founders, to infiltration of Alpha Quadrant powers by changelings, the Battle of the Omarion Nebula, war between the Federation and Klingons, and finally Dominion expansion through the Bajoran Wormhole.
Many different battles are mentioned and the quadrant map in the front cover is marked with battle locations and dates from the war. If you want to play through the events of the war month by month, there’s detail here to help you through that. You can also mix frontal assaults with covert missions, resistance movements, negotiations to shore up alliances, and attacks against Dominion targets. The end of the book’s second chapter outlines the state of the war “at the moment” meaning the end of 2374. Two great sidebars detail the events of 2375 as the war winds down and tips for making characters affected by the war. It’s a great treatment of the Dominion War and how you can use it in a campaign, clearly written by experts in connecting RPG campaigns to larger storylines.
Species of the Gamma Quadrant
“What about mechanics,” you say? Well buckle in because there are a lot of options. Many of the species already mentioned have full write-ups in the third chapter of the book. There are profiles for Changelings (including the Talents from the Deep Space Nine Player Characters pdf) but the list goes on from there.
The Argrathi are a confident and orderly species, the Dosi are aggressive negotiators, the Hunters are… well Hunters, the Karemma are the chief merchant caste of the Dominion, Paradans are expert cloners, the Rakhari live under a strict totalitarian regime, the Tosk flee in terror from the Hunters, and the Wadi are whimsical and annoying but the most powerful alternative to the Dominion in the quadrant. There are also two species from the Federation’s side of the wormhole including Lurians (like Morn) and the Son’a.
Because there are so many non-Federation species, this chapter also spares some advice on how to create a “unique or unusual” character into a Starfleet crew. I’ve seem some of this in other books but this is the most detail I’ve seen on the subject and it’s really useful information. I’m a little bummed that there are no Jem’Hadar or Vorta Talents but there are some available here and here on Continuing Mission.
Starships of the Gamma Quadrant
So those are the folks of the Gamma Quadrant, but what are the ships zooming around there? Well to start the Jem’Hadar have a featured battleship (the fleet flagship so it’s suped up compared to what’s in the core rulebook) and there’s a Karemma cruiser, Vorta explorer, and Dominion dispatch vessel for couriers; all original creations I think. On the Federation side there’s also a Son’a battlecruiser and a totally powerful flagship.
Those are all excellent threats to throw at Federation crews but the second half of this chapter is an interesting surprise. Rather than generic ships of different classes, there’s a collection of “Starships of the Dominion War” to include in notable battles or put in harm’s way. The descriptions have full stats but also histories and notes on their capabilities. The U.S.S. Galaxy, U.S.S. Prometheus, U.S.S. Sutherland, U.S.S. Lakota, U.S.S. Valiant, and U.S.S. Majestic all get a write-up in this chapter and there are stats for a K’t’inga-class refit and a D’Deridex-class refit for Starfleet’s Klingon and Romulan allies.
Lastly, there’s a very intriguing sidebar about “Frakenstein rules” for making quirky, unique ships. To quote from the book, “After the Battle of Wolf 359 in 2367, Starfleet began a program that would provide the fleet with large numbers of new starships… [and] began to activate and refit starships in dozens of boneyards across the Federation.” Basically, Starfleet had half an Ambassador-class in one scrapyard and half a Constitution-class in another so they welded them together.
To make these very interesting ships, you take a spaceframe and remove one of that design’s default Talents, then replace that with a Talent from a secondary starship. These can be refit and upgraded as normal, but they all have the Technical Test-Bed Mission Profile and they are limited to a max number of Talents equal to Scale -1. I’m sure there are quirky gaming groups out there that want a Frankenstein ship but I also love the idea of these ships warping around during the Dominion War as NPC ships that the crew runs into.
Encounters and Adversaries
The final chapter of this book starts off with a detailed discussion of the Bajoran Wormhole and the Orbs of the Prophets. Given their importance during the war this makes sense, but this information is all relevant to any campaigns involving the orbs. My Bajoran science officer is all about the orbs and Prophets, for instance, and I’m soaking this up like a wrinkle-nosed sponge.
After this come encounter hooks and NPC stats for the Gamma Quadrant. There’s a Jem’Hadar medic, the intriguing Jem’Hadar First Omet’iklan, a Vorta scientist, a Vorta diplomat, a Vorta strategist named Wei’yeir, a Drai clonemaster, a Drai leader, and a Drai assassin working for the Dominion. There are also famous characters (all Major NPCs) to sprinkle into your Dominion War campaign including General Martok, Kai Winn, Gul Dukat (different from the Alpha Quadrant version, with Values and Focuses indicating his collapse in Season 7), Weyoun, a Founder Leader. Plus there’s a sidebar on the Section 31’s morphogenic virus, in line with the virus rules in the Sciences Division Sourcebook. Short campaign outlines are given that all seem really interesting and cool variations on wartime storytelling. I wasn’t sure how much this book would get into playing through the Dominion War but you could run many campaigns of Starfleet ships surviving the war years and undertaking critical missions.
This is a solid book that has much more detail and information than I expected. If you’re so-so on the events of Deep Space Nine then this book is crucial for setting a game in the Dominion War, obviously, but even if you know that series back-to-front there’s a ton in here to flesh out the political and cultural reality of the Gamma Quadrant. There’s also all the stuff about the Son’a, the speculation into different pathways through the Dominion War, creating weirdo characters or ships… this book has a lot. It’s definitely one of the best books in the line which is both impressive and exciting.