Review – Delta Quadrant Sourcebook (Star Trek Adventures)

The fourth Star Trek Adventures quadrant sourcebook is, aptly enough, focused on the fourth Star Trek television series (no, the cartoon doesn’t count). The Delta Quadrant Sourcebook is heavily, although not quite entirely, based on the adventures of the starship Voyager as it tried to make its way home from the Delta Quadrant. It’s also the first Star Trek Adventures book to push the timeline forward, being presented as taking place in 2379 after all of the Next Generation era shows/movies (well, everything before Picard came out, anyway; that’s set another 20 years down the road).

The Delta Quadrant Sourcebook is pretty explicitly split into two sections – the Borg and everything else. And how much joy you get out of the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook is probably going to depend on how much you like the Borg and how much you like Voyager. I’ll look at both of those sections, and then separately look at playable species options.

The ‘everything else’ section has a plethora of species and places, because Voyager did a lot of flying on by. Don’t be too unfair to Voyager, there are piles and piles of TOS and Next Generation episodes with one-off alien appearances as well; it just isn’t as visible because there are also a handful of popular recurring species, while Voyager mostly just had the Kazon and then the Borg (discussed later). Each of these encounters can appear in the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook in up to four places. There’s a section on political geography, which often seeks to take an appearance in a single episode and expand out to a bit broader structure. These are written like they were a Starfleet briefing, so there’s a consciousness of the narrowness of the basis for the write-up. Some of these political entities may also have worlds presented, but there are also unique worlds that don’t relate to a specific sapient power. Added to that are the playable species presentations (discussed below) and starships. Species and locations covered include the Devore (xenophobic telepath-haters), the Haakonian Order (the ones who obliterated one of the Talaxian moons), the bureaucratic Hierarchy, the Hirogen (interstellar sport hunters), the Kazon, Krenim (used temporal weapons), Malon (cautionary tale about toxic waste), Species 8472 (outsiders from fluidic space who could trounce the Borg), Srivani (unethical medical experimenters), the Swarm, Talaxians (Neelix), Vaadwaur (had subspace tunnels), Vidiians (stole organs to combat the Phage), the Voth (Terran dinosaurs transplanted and evolved), the Demon Planet, the genocidal Enarans, Drayans, Baneans and Numiri, the humans kidnapped from 1937 and enslaved on an unnamed planet, the Moneans (lived on a planet-sized globe of water), the Ocampans (Kes), the Sikaris (and their unstealable gateway technology), the sex-imbalanced Taresians, Takar (now a subsidiary of the Ferengi who went through the Barzan Wormhole), and Uxal (who blew themselves up with weapons based on information contained on a Terran probe). In addition to ships specific to the various species listed above, the custom-built Delta Flyer gets stats here. As you can see, it’s quite the list.

The sections on the Borg are heavily based on Voyager, with its drastic expansion of the lore of the Borg and the space they occupy, but it does also fill in some additional material from other sources, such as Star Trek: First Contact and even back in Next Generation (e.g., Hugh makes an appearance as an NPC). Even though they’re based on Voyager, they’re relatively easy to add into a game set in any quadrant, because it’s long-established that the Borg have the ability to get ships to pretty much anywhere in the Star Trek galaxy. The presentation structure mirrors that of the non-Borg species, with section on the collective as a whole, Borg locations, and Borg ships following similar non-Borg sections. You’ll see information on how Borg communicate and travel across quadrants, the role of the Borg Queen, the difficulties fighting the Borg (unless you’re Species 8472), types of drones, liberating drones, unicomplexes, and stats for tactical cubes, octahedrons (that’s right, you can fight a Borg d8), probes, torii, and assimilated starships (the standard cube and sphere are in the core book). Oh, and for some creepy horror, there are stats for assimilated animals.

The batch of new playable species if pretty extensive, if somewhat lacking in non-Borg fan favorites. As the book addresses, most of these options will have some storytelling limitations, in that these species are only known to exist in the Delta Quadrant (my general belief on this front is that player characters are inherently special, so there’s no reason for them to all be ‘normal’ types).

Options include:

  • Ankari – reptilian humanoids with a vibration sense and a cultural affinity for extradimensional beings;
  • Jye – administrators with talents focused on assisting or being assisted;
  • Liberated Borg – this is where you can sign up to be the next Seven of Nine; liberated Borg start with implants, which provides some very handy abilities but also apply penalties to social tasks.
  • Lokirrim – hologram-hating … actually, that’s really their one thing;
  • Mari – a telepathic species whose home planet has excised aggressive thought who can be empaths or great negotiators;
  • Monean – really good swimmers (but still require air to breath), the Moneans have talents related to operating underwater or to navigation generally;
  • Ocampa – exemplified by Kes, the Ocampans are a (very) short-lived species with telepathic abilities and a talent that gives an extra d20 when taking a crack at a task previously-attempted by another;
  • Pendari – excellent warriors with a keen sense of smell, the Pendari have access to talents that provide big, big bonuses in combat;
  • Sikarian – characterized by possession of highly advanced technology that doesn’t work away from their home planet, a Sikarian character will either have a rough time and/or have some built-in angst, depending on how you look at it; their talent options focus on social interactions;
  • Talaxian – exemplified by Neelix, Talaxians can get bonuses when multiple of their foci apply, cheer others up, or spout random bits of knowledge from their travels;
  • Turei – the heirs to the Vaadwaur’s subspace tunnels, the Turei have some conditional talents that allow them to spend Momentum to gain Determination or grant bonuses to subspace navigation; and
  • Zahl – come from a Federation-era Earth-like society, with available talents assisting in survivability in extreme temperatures or assisting others in diplomacy.

In addition to the Liberated Borg, who are presented as a standard option, the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook contains several template-like ways of approaching species who copy or are otherwise based on another species. These include mimetic doppelgangers (copies of lifeforms created from the “demon” world, and their offspring), Kobali (who collect corpses and then reanimate them),

In addition to the contents listed above, each of the Borg and non-Borg sides of things get 20 pages of adventure hooks and encounters. But one element that was lacking in the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook was art. There’s not a bunch of it. I like the whole LCARS graphics thing, but whenever an RPG supplement is presenting a new species, there should be a picture of at least one member of that species. Telling me that they’re near-human with a ridge here and a spot there just doesn’t cut it. And there are a lot of new species in the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook (and it’s not like I remember what the Rock’s facial prosthetic looked like when he played the Pendari Champion).

Ultimately, the Delta Quadrant Sourcebook does a good job with the source material. Except for diehard Voyager fans, the Borg are probably the big draw here. There’s no escaping that the non-Borg side of things has a lot of spatial anomalies and  one-shot or otherwise unexciting species, but that was the nature of Voyager as a show (they were always trying to get home, there’s a reason why they stopped featuring the Kazon and reintroduced the Borg, etc.). At the same time, those ‘one-shot’ species, while lacking depth, do mean that there are a plethora of new species options for players. And because GMs always need more one-off adventures, there’s also plenty of fodder for them to use (you don’t need a lengthy presentation of a well-known species to populate your enigma-of-the-week adventure, after all).

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.


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