D&D General Stealing Star Trek lore for my D&D Campaign

Grantypants

Explorer
I'm considering a new campaign premise and I'm looking for some advice. I want to run a 5e campaign inspired by Star Trek, but maintaining the general fantasy trappings of D&D. So, no space travel and everything sci-fi works by magic instead of by tech. The various alien cultures can mix and match up fairly well with existing D&D races. Elves and Vulcans are both aloof, long-lived people with pointy ears who had a mostly evil splinter group split off and form its own culture. Ferengi and Kobolds are both short and greedy, especially if you play up the desire to be like dragons and build a hoard of gold(-pressed latinum). How else would you mix and match D&D and Star Trek lore?

(I'm aware that there's a perfectly good Star Trek Adventures RPG, but I don't want to play Star Trek, I want to play in a fantasy setting based on Star Trek.)

What are the key aspects that would make this feel like Star Trek without the sci-fi? These are the ones I've identified so far.
Techno-utopianism. Or here I suppose it would be Arcano-utopianism. But the idea that there is a society where people can set aside their differences and live together in harmony. The crew represents that society in conflicts with the wider world.
Post-capitalism. The crew isn't doing their work to get paid, but because they agree with the ideals of the Federation and have an important job to do.
There is always a nonviolent solution. This is the ideal that gets pushed to the side from time to time. The goal is always to find a peaceful solution, but in practice that doesn't always work out.
The crew are the good guys. Even when they do morally grey things, that weighs heavily on them. There's self-reflection on whether each crew person is being the best person they can be.

What other pros or cons do you see with this plan? I'm going to be upfront with the players about what I'm doing, and I'm going to tell them all this before we even get to Session Zero. That should ensure that I get good players who are interested in this concept and presumably who have seen enough Star Trek for this shortcut to save me time on exposition. And this is just for my home game, so I'm not concerned with copyright status on anything.
 

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dave2008

Legend
I like the idea in general, but I am a little confused by the concept. So before I get more into a response, please make sure I understand this correctly:

You want a Federation / Star Trek style society and adventure, but without spaceships and technology. So...
  • No space travel?
  • No future/modern tech. D&D tech and magi-tech only?
  • The exploration is of the world
  • The PCs are the crew of a ship (sea or sky or land) that is exploring the world
  • The PCs are "good"
  • The PCs are part of social republic that has relative peace and harmony
  • You want to replace Star Trek race with D&D races or are you looking for D&D races that are good mechanical fit for Star Trek races?
Is that basically correct?
 

Grantypants

Explorer
I like the idea in general, but I am a little confused by the concept. So before I get more into a response, please make sure I understand this correctly:

You want a Federation / Star Trek style society and adventure, but without spaceships and technology. So...
  • No space travel?
  • No future/modern tech. D&D tech and magi-tech only?
  • The exploration is of the world
  • The PCs are the crew of a ship (sea or sky or land) that is exploring the world
  • The PCs are "good"
  • The PCs are part of social republic that has relative peace and harmony
  • You want to replace Star Trek race with D&D races or are you looking for D&D races that are good mechanical fit for Star Trek races?
Is that basically correct?
Yes, that pretty well sums it up. I'm looking for ways to mix and match Star Trek lore with D&D lore and/or game mechanics to create new and interesting combinations.
 

dave2008

Legend
I like the idea. I don't see any real issues with this concept. A couple of comments:
  • People familiar with Star Trek may be a hard time getting used to the arcane replacement of tech. But maybe not.
  • A big part of Star Trek (at least for me) is the ship. You need to have a cool ship, sort of a moving home base
  • You may want to curate your class list. Keep to Star Trek tropes
    • Captain: not sure - rogue, paladin, other
    • Security: fighter, other?
    • Doctor: cleric
    • Science: wizard
    • Communications: bard, rogue
 

A few monsters in D&D could be compared to the Borg, to many Borgs are cyborg-zombies because thematically it can be like a zombie-movie with drones stalking around like in First Contact. But beyond zombies there's often lawful beings like Modrons or Formians which have a hivemind. Many of them though aren't as expansionist as the Borg in Star Trek are. The Clockwork Horrors or Witchlight Marauders from Spelljammer might (though very different in form) be closer to the Borg in how they operate.

The Dominion has three main races with the Jem'hadar, Vorta and Changelings/Founders. It was mostly formed out of the Founders need to ensure the safety of their people by conquering other races. The Founders could be Doppelgangers or they could be more like Mimics as they are essentially oozes in their natural forms. Instead of the Gamma Quadrant they could be from somewhere like Shadowfell instead. Many obviously wouldn't trust beings who could shapeshift like them. So they have a warrior race like the Jem'hadar that worships them and they control with drugs to keep others in line, with the Jem'hadar being like a number of reptilian races in D&D including Lizardfolk, Yuan-Ti or the anti-divine magic Sarkrith. And finally the Vorta could be a race of spellcasters/warlocks or "pureblood" Yuan-Ti who are the overseers to the warriors.

It's being pointed out by some that the Romulan Elnor has a name that translates to "Star Trek" in Sindarin Elvish. He is associated with a group called the Qowat Milat, basically Romluan sword nuns (so likely Monks in D&D), which some have compared to Dune's Bene Gesserit though I think they're ideologically the opposite of them. Dune's BG are all about lying and manipulating, while the QM is about Absolute Candor making generally the opposite of Romulan society which is focused on secrets with things like fake doors to homes being standard and Romulans having secret names they only share with those they love/trust.
 


Grantypants

Explorer
I like the idea. I don't see any real issues with this concept. A couple of comments:
  • People familiar with Star Trek may be a hard time getting used to the arcane replacement of tech. But maybe not.
  • A big part of Star Trek (at least for me) is the ship. You need to have a cool ship, sort of a moving home base
  • You may want to curate your class list. Keep to Star Trek tropes
    • Captain: not sure - rogue, paladin, other
    • Security: fighter, other?
    • Doctor: cleric
    • Science: wizard
    • Communications: bard, rogue
I think you're right about the ship being a big part of the overall Star Trek vibe, but that raises a problem. 5e doesn't really support ship-to-ship combat very well, especially as the ships get bigger and bigger. How to solve that problem?
What if the base was a city, or at least a very large wizard's tower? The party beams out to wherever they're going, has their adventure, then beams back home.

I'm hesitant to curate the class list, just because I like to see party roles emerge in play. Obviously, there's limits to that. The doctor should probably have healing magic and so on, but I think any class could be captain.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think you're right about the ship being a big part of the overall Star Trek vibe, but that raises a problem. 5e doesn't really support ship-to-ship combat very well, especially as the ships get bigger and bigger. How to solve that problem?
What if the base was a city, or at least a very large wizard's tower? The party beams out to wherever they're going, has their adventure, then beams back home.
Less ship to ship, but I personally like the idea of a mobile base. I mean most star trek action happened between people on planet or on another ship/space station. Not as much (though some) ship to ship combat.

And, IIRC, there are some decent ship to ship rules for 5e out there.
I'm hesitant to curate the class list, just because I like to see party roles emerge in play. Obviously, there's limits to that. The doctor should probably have healing magic and so on, but I think any class could be captain.
Captain is definitely on of those that could be any class; but a Marshall/Warlord type would be great at it.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
A few monsters in D&D could be compared to the Borg...
My thought was to make the Borg into an undead army. You can preserve the assimilationist aspect of the Borg, plus the horror of seeing your assimilated former allies turn against you.

For the Dominion, I started with Changelings as, well, Changelings. They have a fae connection in D&D, so why not continue that and make Firbolgs their Jem'Hadar? Vorta could be Half-Elves, which is less of a stretch than it sounds. Half-Elves are said to be excellent ambassadors, but otherwise don't have an identity of their own. Similarly, Vorta are clones who are excellent ambassadors for the Dominion. Throw out the mixed-heritage history and they fit quite well.

Romulans are too close to Drow for me to choose anything else, but I could cram in some more plot hooks if I change things a bit. What if the Elf/Drow schism isn't ancient history, but an ongoing societal split between those who choose logic and those who choose emotions?
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Exploration.
I think you're right about the ship being a big part of the overall Star Trek vibe, but that raises a problem. 5e doesn't really support ship-to-ship combat very well, especially as the ships get bigger and bigger. How to solve that problem?
Star Trek ship-to-ship combat is almost non-existent when you watch the shows - usually it's a few photon torpedoes, some phaser blasts exchanged, and that's about it - there are very few epsiodes where ship-to-ship combat is even very dramatic beyond "we canna take another hit to our shields captain" right before Scotty figures out how they can take another hit to their shields. When you need a dramatic combat it's almost always hand-to-hand combat (at least in the ones that aren't TNG - TNG didn't have the stunt coordinators to do dramatic combat).

I think you could do a flying ship around that model fairly well. I personally think that "exploration" is a huge part of what makes Star Trek Star Trek.
 



Stormonu

Legend
The mobile base will work, though an airship or even a sailing vessel would work as well. You can then do as little or as much base/ship combat as you want.

Sounds like the group will primarily be an Away Team, that could free up the base/vessel to be under NPC control dealing with that bureaucracy.

Personally, I'd go with elves as Vulcans; "Spock" would be a half-elf and allows you to use Drow stats for a Romulan race.
Hobgoblins and other goblinoids fit well as Klingons.
Githyanki might be a fit for Cardassians (perhaps with Githzerai as Bajorans? Or Mind Flayers as Cardassians?), though with a lich-queen they might make better borg analogs (especially if one can be transformed into a Githyanki somehow).
Kobolds or possibly Goblins would make a great replacement for Ferengi.
Lizardfolk are obviously Gorn, though Dragonborn might work as well.
Tabaxi could be used for Caitans or Kzinti.
Dwarves for Tellarites.
Tieflings as Andorians?

Overall, a lot of old Trek is Planets of the Hats, with a race embodying some aspect of humanity that is dialed to 11 to allow for social commentary about that aspect. Often, it was only later Trek (such as Deep Space Nine) that started to flesh out alien civilizations beyond a caricature. A lot of Trek is morality plays/quandaries and if not their resolution but shining a light on some social injustice or moral quandary ("Let That be Your Last Battlefield", "Measure of a man", "The City on the Edge of Forever", and "The Wounded" being ones that stand out to me).
 

aco175

Legend
I can picture an actual sailing ship to fit all the crew and travel around the known cities or out into the island chains to meet new peoples. I could see a caravan doing this as well. Maybe there are trade routes that they follow with the PCs acting as an away team. Something more random like a Baba Yaga Hut thing where the adventuring guild travels around looking for work
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
Probably not helpful, but I snipe whatever I can from movies and literature to make my gaming world come alive. My upcoming Dragonlance 5E dwarves aren't going to have scottish accents. Their earthly language is harsh, great for opera, and sounds like Klingon.

Otherwise, does a Sigil (Planescape) or Spelljammer atmosphere help, where you have connected planes with your various Star Trek factions, and to navigate to those other places, you can take a ship through the ether, or try your luck at a central "hub" (e.g. Deep Space 9 feel)?

If you're simply going for the politics, largely go with it all as in the shows and there's little adjustment needed. It doesn't take much for you to craft a map with a "neutral" zone and so on.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
Kalashtar are a perfect combination of Betazoids and Trill. They've got the telepathy and psionic power of Betazoids plus the symbiont/host dynamic of Trill.

You could use Warforged to represent the various androids, holograms, robots, synthetics, computers, etc, but Warforged come with too much steampunk baggage. There's not an official 5e update, but I'd really like to see the Shardmind in that role, especially if you lean into the Shardmind as sentient parts of the ship.

There are a bunch of races that could fill the Kelpian niche as vaguely aquatic species in a predator-prey dynamic with another intelligent species. Sahuagin, Grung, Locatha, Yuan-ti. Lots of options. Ba'ul are probably aboleths though.
 

Voadam

Legend
I've had a player play her half-orc as coming from a specific Orc culture as Klingon based so her office secretary would shout "Stovokor!" whether she was facing undead or University bureaucracy.

It works really well as an Orc characterization hook.

I have played around in my 5e Iron Gods campaign with the concept of having the actual backstory of elves be that they are the descendants of Vulcans who crash landed on the planet ten thousand years ago on the mile long colony ship buried in Golarion's Numeria.
 

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