Utopia Planitia Review

Today I’m here with another Star Trek Adventures review, this time looking at the new Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook full of everything you might need for starships in your campaign. While there’s already an excellent review (which I entirely agree with) on Continuing Mission, I wanted to give a little more detail. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and, not to get ahead of myself, it’s well beyond my expectations.

This post originally appeared on Continuing Mission.

In a nutshell, the Utopia Planitia Starfleet Sourcebook is your one-stop shop for all things starship in a Federation game of Star Trek Adventures. The title indicates that Modiphius is leaving the door open for a Klingon (or other) starship book in the future but this is supposed to be the book for folks who just want more spaceframes. It certainly provides that with spaceframes from all the live-action Star Trek shows (including Star Trek: Picard) and even some spaceframes originally developed for Star Trek Online. However, the books is more than just a rehashing of spaceframes from the game so far: there are new frames and additional information, as well as a lot of extra rules for Gamemasters to highlight the ships of Star Trek. Let’s hit it!

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Spaceframes and Stations

There are three chapters before we get to the Spacecraft and Space Stations chapter, but this is what people are here for so let’s cut to the chase. By the numbers there are 55 spaceframes in the book, 16 small craft, and 10 space station designs. There are also 56 starship Talents, 7 space station Talents, 17 starship Mission Profiles, 11 space station Mission Profiles, 10 energy weapon types, 4 energy weapon delivery systems, 14 torpedo types, and 13 types of mines. That’s a lot and some of it may be more exciting to you than others (though every bit of it is certainly exciting to someone) so let’s look more closely.

Of the Mission Profiles for starships, seven are the profiles from the original core rulebook with a few minor tweaks (mostly adding new Talent options or shifting a single point in Departments). The combat-oriented Battlecruiser profile and the Reserve Fleet profile for older vessels were both introduced in the Discovery Campaign Guide, which covers the tense mid-23rd century, and two others (Espionage/Intelligence and Warship) seem to be modified versions of profiles from the Klingon Empire core rulebook. This leaves six new Mission Profile options which expand the types of stories you can tell, similar to the Player’s Guide. The Civilian Merchant Marine profile is decommissioned Starfleet vessels now in a mercantile active reserve, for telling civilian stories. Colony Support ships are parked above fledgling colonies, Entertainment/Pleasure ships is for luxury cruisers, Flagship is a Command-focused profile for central ships in the fleet, the Logistical/Quartermaster profile is Engineering-focused, Patrol ships are fast and combat-ready.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

For the spaceframes themselves, each comes with a notable starship as an example. These range from canon ships to original creations but all of them are fully statted and ready to be crewed by your player characters (or used as NPC ships with a generic crew, as on page 225 of the core rulebook). Each notable starship has a name and registry, a commission date and history, and a full set of stats. They all appear next to the spaceframe portrait too which gives a handy visual for when you’re introducing them to the story.

Unsurprisingly, the core rulebook spaceframes all appear with notable starships: Constitution (the original Enterprise), Miranda (the U.S.S. Reliant), Excelsior (the Enterprise-B), Constellation (the U.S.S. Eranos Eaoth which premiered on Continuing Mission!), Galaxy (the Enterprise-D), Akira (the U.S.S. Harrington, I don’t know where this is from), Nova (the U.S.S. Canary Islands, great name and cool new ship), Defiant (the U.S.S. Defiant, obviously), and Intrepid (the U.S.S. Voyager) class ships. Comparing these to the core rulebook, one very noticeable update is that new ships (like the Defiant and Akira classes) get quantum torpedoes for free and don’t need to spend a Talent on it anymore.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

The Daedalus class, NX class (with the NX-01 Enterprise as the notable ship, of course), Oberth, Sydney, Centaur, Ambassador, Nebula, New Orleans, Olympic, Steamrunner, Norway, Saber, Sovereign(notable ship the Enterprise-E), and Luna (notable ship the U.S.S. Titan) classes first appeared in the Command Division Supplement and are updated here. There are a ton of new mission pod options as well since many other spaceframes besides the Nebula class (including the Luna) can get pods. Technically the Prometheus-class spaceframe appeared in the Gamma Quadrant Sourcebook but only as a statblock that you had to reverse engineer so I think this is its real official debut. Also the U.S.S. Cerberus is the notable starship so it’s a bonus example of the Prometheus class.

The Discovery Campaign Guide introduced the Shepard(notable starship is the U.S.S. Gagarin), Magee, Cardenas, Hoover, Malachowski, Engle, and Hiawatha classes but official designs appear in Utopia Planitia.  The Crossfield class originally appeared in the Discovery Crew Packs and the Discovery Campaign Guide but also appears here and obviously the U.S.S. Discovery is the notable starship there.

The new spaceframes in Utopia Planitia are the J-Class/Y-class freighters (notable starship is the Mayweather family’s E.C.S. Horizon), the Warp Delta design, Antares class, Archer class, and Niagaraclasses. From Star Trek Online we get the Reliant, Sutherland, Gagarin, and Odyssey (notable ship the Enterprise-F) classes from the very end of the 24th century and the Pathfinder class from the very beginning of the 25th. These are all really awesome vessels and while I still like the versions I did for Continuing Mission I’m psyched to switch over to these official ones.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Continuing Mission has a version of the 22nd century Intrepid and Walker (notable starship the U.S.S. Shenzhou) classes, and the 24th century Vesta class. Plus the 24th century Ross and Inquiry classeshave appeared as fan creations but all have official versions here now! The notable Inquiry-class ship is Admiral Riker’s U.S.S. Zheng He from Star Trek: Picard which marks that show’s first official entry in Star Trek Adventures outside of the crew pack. In the 23rd century this book has the Hermes, Nimitz, Soyuz (notable starship the U.S.S. Bozeman), and Cheyenne classes, all of which previously appeared on Continuing Mission (but are now official). The Springfield, Challenger, and Freedom classes had fan versions knocking around but it’s been lost and now there’s an official one! The are totally new to Star Trek Adventures as far as I can tell. The Raven-type starship used by the Federation Science Council, the class of the Hansens’ lost ship (which is the statted notable starship), also appears in this book.

For small craft, there’s the shuttlepod and runabout from the core rulebook and the Type-F, Type-6, Type-7, Type-8, Type-9, and Type-10 shuttles as well as the work bee, attack fighter, and captain’s yacht from the Command Division Supplement. There are lots of small adjustments in these stats, though, to improve gameplay. Additionally, modern space shuttles (like the NASA sort) are statted here (for time travel, I guess) and the Phoenix has some stats as well. The Type-A shuttlecraft from Star Trek: Discovery have stats and sidebars for both the Type-A and Type-F shuttles give some variant designs and stat changes. Orbital transfer pods, aeroshuttles, mission scout, and Delta Flyer (and the Delta Flyer II) all make an appearance.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

A large number of space stations also appear, including the joint International Space Station currently in orbit around Earth, a construction slip, a K-class border outpost, a Regula-class multipurpose station, the enormous Spacedock around Earth, a standard mushroom-shaped Federation starbase, Deep Space 9, Narendra Station (updated post-Dominion War from the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide), a border listening post, and a subspace communications relay. A lot of these are fairly specialized but they can also be used for other species’ stations (such as a pre-Warp civilization’s version of the International Space Station).

Federation History and Creation Rules

Jumping backwards a bit, the first chapter of the book is actually a review of how Starfleet came to be. It starts with United Earth and early Starfleet (before the Federation) as well as the Confederacy of Vulcan, the Andorian Empire, and the United Planets of Tellar. It runs through the Coalition of Planets and the Earth-Romulan War, then into the 23rd and 24th century with an emphasis on ships. It ends with a look at “cutting edge” starship technologies (as of the end of the 24th century) and how they might become more commonplace (including “predictions” that will come true in Star Trek Online and other future storylines for Star Trek).

There’s lots of information like this in the next chapter on Life in Starfleet which goes over shipboard life and the various systems of Federation starships. I particularly appreciated the overview of Computer Technology by Era which detailed the differences between the semiconductors of the 22nd century, the duotronics of the late 23rd century, and the isolinear chips, bio-neural systems, and positronics seen in 24th century shows. Ideas for downtime on the ship that I suspected came from our own Michael Dismuke but actually come from our own Al Spader… Either way, they’re very fun. There are prompts for holodeck stories, rules for evacuations, methods of navigation and how to give a heading (what does “131 mark 027” even mean?), propulsion, and weapons. The short section on raw resources by era and mining techniques, as well as salvage and retrieval, might be technical for some but I think it’s full of possibility. It’s all awesome and useful but the next sections are sure to be what really get people thinking.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Chapter 3 starts with guidance on Making Your Ship Meaningful including how to describe it, how to pick your spaceframe, and even idiosyncrasies like a ship’s computer with an unusual accent or glitches in artificial gravity when you pass warp 4. There’s a section on having a starship as a main character that made me literally gasp out loud and I’d love to see this happen in one of my games.

The section on creating your own spaceframes resembles the one I wrote many years ago, but it’s updated with lots of new information, considers non-Federation vessels, and is official so there’s no question that you should use that one now. Also excitingly, there are rules for creating  your own small crafts and creating a space station which both greatly expand on the options for Star Trek Adventure campaigns.

Lastly, there are many different types of starship weapons to expand both Federation options and non-Federation threats. For energy weapons there are the familiar phasers and disruptors but also antiproton beams, electromagnetic, ionic, free electron lasers, graviton beams, phased polaron beams, phase/pulse weapons from the 22nd century, proton beams, and tetryon beams. Also, in addition to the cannons, banks, and arrays from the core rulebook, you have the option of a spinal lance delivery system as seen in the Next Generation finale. For torpedoes there are likewise the photon, quantum, and plasma types from the core rulebook as well as chroniton, gravimetric, neutronic, nuclear, photonic, polaron, spatial, tetryonic, transphasic, and tricobalt torpedoes. There are also options for mines including blackout (jamming), blade, chroniton, gravimetric, neutronic, nuclear, photon, phtonic, plasma, polaron, positron, quantum, and tetyronic. Ships also have access to an expanded list of Ship Talents, including Expanded Munitions to include some of these incredible weapon options.

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Optional Rules and Mission Briefs

A very fun chapter is all about optional rules for starships included expanded use of the Jury-Rig Talent, some rules for crews modifying a small craft for a particular mission, expanded ship maneuvering rules, and some pretty awesome zone hazards for starships to encounter. A fairly robust expansion for starship-related challenges including ideas and guidelines for ship maintenance can easily create whole episodes based around the ship.

Speaking of ship-related episodes, the book has ten different Mission Briefs (small, one-page mission ideas) that all deal with starships primarily. “I, Ship” is about being stuck in the ship’s computers, “Peer Pressure” is about facing off against sentient starships, “Haptic” is about an emergency in the middle of a diplomatic situation, “Jefferies Tube Jam” is a claustrophobic episode about being trapped in the Jefferies tubes, “Playing Along” is a rescue operation with some strange complications, “It Takes a Village” is about the technology of a dead civilization, “Retrofit Gone Wrong” is a space station-based mission, “Bilitrium Blues” is a situation of strange science, “The Handler” is a weird “divergent reality” story, and “Surface Issues” is a high-stress situation of a spacewalk gone wrong. This collection of briefs is varied and I especially love how the highlighted crew roles run the full gamut from captain to engineer and even ship’s counselor!

Image © Modiphius Entertainment

Conclusion

Well, for better or worse I crammed this pile of information into one review. I’m really excited and impressed by the Utopia Planitia book and anyone who uses starships, small craft, or space stations in their Star Trek Adventures games (which is to say, probably everyone) will find about a thousand new ideas in these pages. This book gets all the Tribbles from me and I can’t wait to throw some of these new options and rules at my players.

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