Review – The Klingon Empire (Star Trek Adventures)

The Klingon Empire is an upcoming new core rulebook for the Star Trek Adventures tabletop roleplaying game, placing the entire focus on a Klingon-only crew. As a core rulebook, there’s some repeat of existing mechanical content. But at least a third of the book is new Klingon-focused material – history, technology, ships, GM advice, and a new adventure. And the character/starship creation, while essentially the in function, presents a Klingon spin. I’m guessing that most potential purchasers of The Klingon Empire already have a Star Trek Adventures core book – but if you’re going to be doing a Klingon campaign, The Klingon Empire will give it a much stronger foundation. The Klingon Empire is scheduled to arrive in October, in digital, print, and collector’s edition versions, but a preliminary digital copy is available now with a pre-order.

To me, the most notable aspect is providing heavy support for a Klingon campaign. Such a campaign will, obviously, be much different from the standard Starfleet campaign. To that end, The Klingon Empire leads off with 60+ pages of historical and cultural information and 20+ pages of GM advice on constructing a Klingon campaign or adventure. The historical information is very much from a Klingon perspective, with other species either dismissed or existing only to be conquered for the glory of the Empire, and every series of events cast as a vindication of Klingon honor and the Klingon way of life (so do not go looking for information on the plight of the subjugated peoples laboring under the yoke of Klingon oppression). Klingon fans will enjoy the liberal smattering of Klingon terms, including translations of some game terms, such as the attributes.

Usually, when I review a core rulebook, I give a solid rundown of the basic mechanical and character aspects of the game. I’m not going to do that here. While the Klingon Empire is a core rulebook, it is the same rules as the original Star Trek Adventures core book. If you want a rundown of the basic mechanics of the 2d20 system as implemented in Star Trek Adventures or the basics of how character creation works, go check out my review of that book. The Klingon Empire has rules that have been updated for clarity, but they’re essentially the same rules (the reputation system now has a shame dimension to it, so that your children’s children’s children can be cast out because of your failures).

There are a few differences for character creation, beyond the obvious “everyone is a Klingon,” although the lifepath process is fundamentally the same as well.

Now, when I say that “everyone is a Klingon,” there are two types of Klingon – Klingon with good prosthetic makeup and Klingons with some face paint (aka QuchHa’ Klingons aka Klingons from the Original Series). Standard Klingons get boosts to Daring, Fitness, and Presence, while QuchHa’ Klingons (only an option during the TOS era) get boosts to Control, Insight, and Presence. Standard Klingons are required to take a talent representing their redundant organs. QuchHa’ Klingons can take this, but can also take some talents related to being underhanded and ambitious. This flexibility may be intended to compensate for the discrimination that QuchHa’ Klingons face. Although The Klingon Empire emphasizes letting players do whatever they want with their characters, Klingon culture is still quite xenophobic, and QuchHa’ Klingons are segregated from other Klingons as genetically polluted. The Klingon Empire takes the same approach of not limiting players based on the Klingons’ misogynistic beliefs or caste system, which is basically the same approach you’d see in any medieval-inspired feudal fantasy setting (possibly because Klingon culture is itself essentially locked in a feudal system).

Later in the lifepath system, the usual upbringing selection is replaced with a character’s caste. These affect a few attributes, but the character can choose to accept or reject their caste, and it places no restriction on what role the character can fulfill. Ultimately, it’s just upbringing with a different name. And it probably won’t matter anyway, because you – and almost certainly will – replace environment and caste with a House. Mechanically, the bonuses from the house just replace the bonuses that would have been received from these two selections (and the House itself effectively has a caste). But it adds an extra dimension of roleplaying, along with a distinct set of House attributes – might, influence, wealth, and reputation – for the characters to interact with.

So, to know if the The Klingon Empire is for you, there are really two questions. The first is whether you think it would be cool to play a Klingon campaign. The Klingon Empire isn’t really help you with that. I don’t think that The Klingon Empire is going to work magic and make that sort of campaign interesting if it isn’t something you’re already looking for. The second question is whether it’s a good resource for running that sort of campaign, and I think it is. It definitely delivers on the Klingon background and perspective, along with a pile of ships and stats for the various NPCs the players will kill, smash, etc.

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


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