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Thread: Defining FASA, LUG and Decipher

  1. #1
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    Defining FASA, LUG and Decipher

    Hey, everyone. The announcement of the upcoming Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius has me looking back at previous officially licensed Trek rpgs, and I wanted to consult the Great Link of rpg knowledge on this board with a couple questions. When you consider FASA, LUG and Decipher, what do you view as the key mechanics, features and philosophies that define each game system and distinguishes one from the others?

    In my mind, LUG Trek was defined by its extensive skill and specialization lists that allowed players to create characters that felt like the hyper-competent officers we saw on TV and in film. But I've also found all those skills to be cumbersome and would prefer them to be simplified. I liked LUG's modular design for starship combat as well, but, similar to chargen, the combat rules could be cumbersome and slow as well. I also love that it supports both the classic Trek era and the Next Generation era. My opinion of LUG Trek, after nearly two decades with the system, is that it clearly works hard to deliver a Trek-flavored experience, but I'd love something that plays faster.

    On the other hand, I never played FASA's or Decipher's offerings. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on the major mechanical features of those systems.

    Additionally, would you want to see any of those key features carried over to the Modiphius game? Or do you think the mechanics that defined previous iterations of Trek rpgs have aged badly?

  2. #2
    It's a bit glib, but both FASA and CODA are, I think, obviously products of their time. FASA is a percentile-skill system not unlike BRP with a Traveller-inspired chargen process. CODA, as is frequently complained about, is obviously a d20 clone (although one that plays much more smoothly than d20 ever did).
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Tatterdemalion King View Post
    It's a bit glib, but both FASA and CODA are, I think, obviously products of their time. FASA is a percentile-skill system not unlike BRP with a Traveller-inspired chargen process. CODA, as is frequently complained about, is obviously a d20 clone (although one that plays much more smoothly than d20 ever did).
    I think at the time, it made sense to make something d20-like for CODA, given the realities of the RPG market. Those days are behind us now. CODA use of a 2d6 bell-curve instead of the flat nature of the d20 did make it interesting at the time.

    Allen

  4. #4
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    So far as I can reconstruct, when WotC bought out LUG, before they found out that the license was non-transferable, they had the LUG team start work on a D20 Trek game. When Decipher got the Trek license and hired the old LUG team from WotC, they simply took what they'd been working on and filed off the D20 serial numbers and voila - CODA! All surmise on my part, as I'm pretty sure that none of the principals are going to say anything for legal reasons.

  5. #5
    Hite's talked about the development direction of CODA here and there on his podcast.
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

  6. #6
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    Although have both LUG and CODA, the only system I've ever used was FASA. As a system, FASA has an excellent chargen system that virtually writes the PC's background for you. However, in today's terms, the system is horribly dated. There is no character customization of advantages and disadvantages, which makes for bland characters. The tactical combat system of Action Points is an extremely clunky mechanic, but crunchy was how things were done in that game design era, so it's not out of place. Many givens in game design are absent in FASA, there isn't a real Initiative system, just highest DEX goes first, no random element involved. There isn't a Notice/Spot Hidden/Sensory skill or mechanic of any kind. Character advancement is very limited and takes a long time to gain a level of competency or diversity as you see in the series.

    Yet, despite these flaws, I still like and use the system, albeit with some house rules to cover the most glaring gaps like initiative and noticing things. I have tinkered with, but yet to settle on an advantages/disadvantages system or a replacement for the Action Points mechanic, but I continue to tinker and figure I will get there one day.
    "For to win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill." Sun Tzu - The Art of War

  7. #7
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    I've often likened the Coda system to an illegitimate love child of the d20 system and the old West End Star Wars d6 system. As I like both of those, this little Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup of an RPG works well for me.

    For those who love FASA's look but find the rules a little too dated, I played a 23rd century helmsman at Origins with a GM who had taken the FASA flavor (and background chargen charts) and plugged it into the Ubiquity system from Exile Games. That was interesting and fun (and I got a Style point for recognizing the origins of the character sheet layout ).
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