RPG Thursday – Wargaming Prime Directive RPG

Courtesy Starfleetgames

I have been a Star Fleet Battles (SFB) player since 1979. I am very well versed in the mythos of the Star Fleet Universe (SFU). For a while there I collected nearly ANYTHING SFU. That included the Prime Directive RPG.

Over the years, Prime Directive (PD) has been released in several versions.  The First Edition (1E) featured a “house” system that I am not all that familiar with. Amarillo Design Bureau (ADB) then jumped on the OGL-bandwagon and released Prime Directive d20 as well as a GURPS version (which I don’t have). More recently, a Modern d20 version has been released (PD20 Modern).

In 2011, ADB entered into an agreement with Mongoose Publishing. In addition to releasing a new version of A Call to Arms there is also talk of a Mongoose Traveller RPG version of Prime Directive.

Getting excited, I pulled out my old Prime Directive d20 and rolled up a character. IN doing so I realized something I had never noticed before; character feats directly translate to Star Fleet Battles effects.

Specifically, I am talking about the Naval Line Officer Class found in the Core Rulebook. A character in this class “progresses” through tours in Helm, Astrogation, and Gunnery (Weapons). Feats such as “Helmsmanship, Exceptional [General]” are earned. But what does that feat give you. What I never noticed before was the feat near-entirely describes what Star Fleet Battles rules apply or are modified!

Courtesy Starfleetgames

Lets take a look at the “Helmsmanship, Exceptional [General]” feat. The benefit reads “The specialist is so familiar with the ship that the ship’s turn mode is increased by one letter grade (B to A, etc). The ship has the Legendary Navigator’s ability with erratic manuevers and high energy turns. See rule (G22.8) for more translations of this Feat into Star Fleet Battles abilities.” (Prime Directive d20, Core Rulebook, p. 46) In only one other place do I find a similar rule, that being under the Pilot Class where a pilot with the “To the Max!” feat gains the Ace Pilot ability in SFB.

Maybe this is why I stayed away from PD for so long? What is admittedly a core character class is described in SFB terms? If you don’t play SFB you can’t benefit from the character feats? To be fair, in a few places the SFB ability is translated (loosely) into an abstract d20 space combat effect. Too few to be really useful. To further complicate matters, the flagship ADB product these days is Federation Commander, a streamlined version of SFB that doesn’t even use Legendary Officers.

All this has me worried about Traveller Prime Directive. Mongoose has a rather poor track record in my mind when translating franchises into Mongoose Traveller terms. I worry that the “source material” in this case may be too poor to begin with. I can only  hope; and withhold my dollars until I can be sure!


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