Last Unicorn Veterans Developing New Trek RPG

By Christian
April 29, 2001 - 6:56 PM

When Decipher acquired the Star Trek role-playing game last year, many fans were worried the company did not have the necessary expertise to create a successful Trek RPG. But according to a new report these worries are unneccessary, as Decipher has hired the developers of the previous Trek RPG incarnation to create its new game.

According to Don Mappin at, an unofficial web site dedicated to the Star Trek RPG created by Last Unicorn Games, many of that game's designers have now joined Decipher. The company previously only had experience developing customisable card games, and with the addition of the Last Unicorn staff they will be able to move into role-playing games as well. Besides the Trek RPG, the company will also be creating a game based on 'The Lord of the Rings.'

Last Unicorn Games originally obtained the Star Trek RPG license in 1998. It published RPGs based on three of the four Star Trek series as well as a ship-based space-combat game before being acquired by RPG powerhouse Wizards of the Coast. Six months later, Decipher surprised everyone in the gaming world when it snatched away the Trek RPG license. With most of the Last Unicorn staff now having moved over to Decipher, Wizards of the Coast does not appear to have benefited much from the acquisition.

No release dates have been announced for the first products in Decipher's Trek RPG line, but the company is planning to start with two core books: the 'Player's Rulebook,' which will contain all the new rules players will need to know, and the 'Narrator's Rulebook,' required for game masters. According to the article, together these books will cost about $60 and contain enough information to play games based on all four current Star Trek series.

After the initial release, Decipher will be publishing separate sourcebooks for each series, providing more information to flesh out the campaigns. Unlike with the old Star Trek RPG, these will only contain information on the specific setting of these series and will not repeat all the game mechanics again. This should serve to keep both the size and the price down.

Other products that are in the planning stages include information books containing information on various alien species per book, and one book focusing solely on the Klingons. This year should already see the release of a starship book covering all races and series, while Decipher is also planning to release both starship and character miniatures through a third party.

The original Last Unicorn Trek RPG was based on their so-called Icon system, which focused more on story rather than on game mechanics. This was intended to give players of the Star Trek RPG the feeling of actually being immersed in the television series. The system was highly popular with both critics and fans, but the new game will drop the Icon system in favour of one that addresses some weaknesses the developers found it with it. At the same time, the designers are aiming to preserve the dramatic elements necessary for a Trek role-playing game.

Other changes in the system include more detailed "background packages" to develop the player's characters and also a lesser focus on Intellect-based skills. In the old game, these made up over 60% of the character skills in the old game. In addition, the new system will feature new so-called Professions, similar to the character classes in other role-playing games. These will give players the chance to develop more unique careers in- or outside Starfleet.

Overall, the focus will be more on character development and characters receiving 'rewards' for their actions, rather than the pure focus on story that characterised the Icon system.

Many of these changes have already attracted extensive comments by the fans of the original RPG, and Decipher is planning to incorporate this feedback in the game. The game is currently undergoing both internal and external playtesting, and while most of the core design elements are in place, the game still has to be tweaked and play-balanced before it is ready for release.

More information should be released over the coming months, including a few samples of the actual products to be released. Decipher is currently working to prepare fast play rules, making it possible to play the game as soon as early July.

For further details on the gameplay changes in the new RPG, please read the full article at If you're a Trek RPG player and would also like to provide feedback on these developments, one of the places to do so is the discussion board.

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