I love Star Trek Adventures. But our current (mega) campaign is on a hiatus, and we’ve been playing the amazing Alien Roleplaying Game lately. Even so, Star Trek Adventures will probably always be my group’s go-to. Star Trek is a great universe to play in, with an almost unlimited potential for stories, and with the new Star Trek Adventures Klingon Core Rulebook there are even more ways to tell those stories.
If you follow Star Trek Adventures, the 2d20 role-playing game, you’ll no doubt know that there is a new version of the core rulebook. New versions of game rules aren’t anything new, but re-flavoring your core rulebook to pander to a different race isn’t done that often. But as popular and ubiquitous as the Klingons have been throughout Star Trek, it makes sense to have a core rulebook written for those who want to run a solely Klingon campaign.
Those with more Starfleet sensibilities may wonder why someone would want to run a campaign that’s all about Klingons. Klingons aren’t just bloodthirsty monsters, though. They’re noble warriors who value honor and have a code of conduct to follow. Of course, there are those Klingons that would be dishonorable, and even villainous—and even the most noble of Klingon’s standard of conduct would still seem savage to those who dwell within the Federation.
Klingons have taken many forms over the years. In Star Trek: The Original Series they didn’t have the ridges that they’re known for now, and their appearance has been different almost every time Star Trek has reemerged in some fashion. The rules accounts for these different looks, and in fact, uses the explanation that the show Enterprise gave for why some Klingons have smooth foreheads—there are even corresponding stat and talent differences. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though publisher Modiphius has the rights to the newer Star Trek shows, and Discovery’s specific Klingon look is never used, nor are the events of Discovery laid out in the lore. Even without that though, there are plenty of other sources to draw Klingon stories and lore from—in fact, there are times throughout the book where they suggest specific episodes to watch that usually deal with what’s being outlined on the page.
But everything you wanted to know about Klingons, and more importantly, all of the information you would need to run a Klingon campaign is included. The first seventy pages or more is just a Klingon-centric view of Star Trek history, including a deep dive into ancient Klingon past. Not all of this is strictly derived from the established TV canon, but the authors didn’t make it up so much as interpret and fill in the gaps where necessary. As a diehard canon nerd I found nothing that popped out as egregiously strange or incorrect–except for the multiple depictions of Klingons having purple blood. And of course, for your own campaign you’re welcome to take and leave whatever you like and make it your own—one of the benefits of tabletop role-playing games.
The original Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook is pretty great, but it has always suffered from its density and organization. The rules aren’t organized that well, and it feels unnecessarily hard to get a grasp on the core concepts. The Klingon Core Rulebook fixes this problem, and makes learning this specific 2d20 system much easier than it was before. There are some rule updates included too. And while this rulebook is obviously Klingon focused, you can still pick it up and run a Starfleet-based campaign—not without adaptation–but it only takes a little fiddling to change the tone back to a more peaceful Starfleet one.
The most significant rule changes are those that revolve around character progression and the reputation system. The campaigns you play are meant to focus now on specific characters, much like it would be done in an episode of Star Trek—and a player doesn’t advance through experience points, but through challenging their values or finishing a story arc for that character. This lends itself to the shared storytelling experience that is Star Trek Adventures—a game that puts a ton of emphasis on this.
The reputation system has also had an overhaul, but in the case of the Klingon Core Rulebook, a lot of that was meant to change how reputation affects Klingons specifically, with Honor and Shame being taken into consideration. The new reputation rules can easily be adapted to be used in a vanilla Star Trek Adventures campaign, too, but the dynamics between Honor and Shame are extremely interesting. Honor is a currency that can be spent to gain favor. Shame, on the other hand, is something you don’t want to accumulate, and there are specific steps to dispel it—like lowering your own rank to remove it.
Additionally, the Klingon Core Rulebook adds in information about Klingon Houses, and how they come into play. This is significant, and extremely interesting way to completely change the dynamic between a Starfleet-focused Star Trek Adventures game and a Klingon one. Houses can help a player, and they can cause that player shame in much the same way the new reputation system works.
You will find that playing as a Klingon Warrior isn’t as safe as playing as a Starfleet Officer. In Star Trek Adventures, characters have a bit of plot armor—and unlike some games, it’s about keeping these same characters along for the long haul. In the Klingon Core Rulebook, death is a little bit more welcoming. In fact, honorable duels to the death are even a way to deal with promotions. If you’re the first officer and you don’t think your captain is acting honorably, it’s your right—sometimes your duty—to kill him.
This book has some great quirks , too. The doctor on a Klingon ship serves a slightly different purpose than they would on a Starfleet ship. Triage is much more harsh, with the surgeon being able to dish out honorable death to Klingon warriors who are unable to continue the fight. There is also the role of ship’s cook, something Starfleet didn’t really have past the Enterprise era. Klingons love that fresh food, and you get the chance to be a Targ butcher, and a gagh wrangler for your warrior brethren. There’s great honor in that.
The only disappointment I have with this great new rulebook is that some of its art is lackluster. Most Modiphius published books are full of gorgeous drawings in various styles, and that is normal for the Star Trek Adventure series of supplements. But this Klingon Core Rulebook’s art is a little flat. There are some great pieces in there, but those are all borrowed from previous Modiphius published books. The art that was unique to this book is not of the same high quality I’ve come to expect. Of course, being centered on Klingons, there is a Klingon theme throughout. And while I appreciated it, I feel like red on black would have been a better color scheme, instead of the white they went with.
If you’re getting into Star Trek Adventures for the first time, you may still want to go for the original Core Rulebook, but the Klingon Core Rulebook can work for those who have prior Star Trek knowledge. It’s a great resource, and much better organized than its predecessor. If you ever wanted to play a TTRPG as a Klingon, there has been no better chance than now.