“The Provider”

Members of the Incomparable get a bunch of stuff, including some exclusive content. Part of that exclusive content is the podcast crossover event of the season: the Total Party Kill (our D&D podcast), Random Trek (my neglected Star Trek podcast), Vulcan Hello (the podcast I do with Jason Snell right after we watch the latest episode of the newest Star Trek), and Voyager Revisited (Jean’s podcast dedicated to thematically exploring Voyager episodes) episode of Star Trek Adventures.

We’ve followed the adventures of the USS Incomparable twice before, with me acting as the Game Master running an adventure from Modiphius‘ delightful Star Trek Adventures game. We’ve done it again this year with “The Provider.

Written by me

I always have fun running a game for my Incomparable pals (and playing in them… though that is a rare occurrence), but this game was special.

I’ve been roleplaying for 33 years (!), and I’ve run any number of adventures (modules for you old people out there), but I’ve never actually written and run a full adventure of my own.

I’ve improvised entire sessions (one memorable session took place on my grade school friend Greg’s back porch, wherein their D&D characters ended up in the Marvel Universe and met up with their Marvel Roleplaying Game characters. It was fun!) but never actually sat down and wrote one.

Partly because I’m the sort of person who starts a project with gusto, and then my enthusiasm wanes in direct proportion to how close I am to finishing said project. The closer I get to completing it, the less interested I become in it.

That’s kept me from writing a proper D&D adventure that would span multiple gaming sessions. It is just a big commitment.

Plus, I don’t want to waste people’s time. As a kid, it was easy to gather a group of people and spend several hours roleplaying… that’s much harder with adults. If someone sets aside some of their precious time as the person in “charge” of the game, you want to make sure they have a good time. And if you write a crappy adventure, that isn’t going to help!

Nagging Ideas

The nice thing about Star Trek Adventures is that, as Jason said while we were playing the other day, you’re basically collaboratively creating an episode of Star Trek. And that episodic nature of play means that you don’t have to think up a storyline that can sustain a whole campaign (or season), but rather something that’ll take a few hours of play time.

I’ve been roleplaying for a long time, but I’ve been a Star Trek fan for even longer. I have a very deep well of Star Trek knowledge that acts as a lovely foundation for any sort of adventure set in that universe. Once I realized that my combined Star Trek nerdiness and roleplaying nerdiness meant that this was something within my meager talents, I figured I could write something that would be mildly entertaining. I then decided to schedule the game before writing anything because I also suck at writing things without a looming deadline.

I did, however, know that I wanted to include a few particular pieces of Star Trek lore… and I had a general idea of how I wanted the adventure to end.

Why write when you can format

Another thing that has kept me from writing an adventure is formatting. All the paid adventures I’ve run in the past are very polished; they have tons of text, outline many scenarios, and include detailed maps. Even the Star Trek Adventure adventures include maps, and that game REALLY doesn’t need a map to play.

I’d look at those things and think, “I can probably write something, but I sure as heck can’t design a decent map.” Any players who have had me as a DM really know that map drawing isn’t my best skill as a DM.

Then I had yet another epiphany – what I’m writing will be played by others, but the material I’m creating is just for me. I don’t need all that polish. I just need to define the A plot, B plot and outline the 3 or 4 acts of the story. Fill in a few set pieces, make sure I had enough NPC names at the ready (something I failed to do as Lt. “Whatever My Name Is” proves), and I’d be good to go!

And good to go, I was

That’s how I ended up with a pretty extensive outline of an adventure to run for Tony, Jean, Jason, and Monty. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but it turned out to be timed pretty well.

And I think, as an episode of Star Trek, it was pretty good. I don’t think it would be a classic TNG episode, but it would be a solid middling episode.

If I were to run “The Provider” again, I would undoubtedly improve some things:

  • I’d have a longer list of names for random NPCs.
  • I’d have the B plot start sooner.
  • It sort of just ends after a couple of exciting beats… so I think I would throw in a speech at the end to wrap it all up.

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