Adding the Klingons to Star Trek Adventures!

Regular followers of my blatherings may be aware that – seemingly an eternity ago, what with COVID-induced time dilation – I helped out a bit with the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game created Modiphius. Working with friends and fellow Star Trek scribes Jim Johnson and Scott Pearson was tremendous fun. However, given my role was to help with some of the early playtesting by developing a story premise for the game’s “living campaign,” and once that was done I figured my time working on STA was at an end. After all, they have actual game developers and other people who really know what they’re doing, and it’s obvious from how the game has developed and expanded over these past few years that the good folks at Modiphius totally have a handle on things.

But of course Jim Johnson couldn’t resist dragging me back.

STA-KlingonRulebook-CoverYesterday, Modiphius announced the release of a major new expansion to Star Trek Adventures: The Klingon Empire Core Rulebook. Not simply a rules supplement, this new volume essentially is its own standalone game, allowing players to carry out missions of conquest in the name of Kahless completely from the point of view of the Klingon characters they create. According to a new article on StarTrek.com:

This core rulebook contains the same rules presented in the Starfleet-focused core rulebook released in 2017. The award-winning design team, including 2d20 developer Nathan Dowdell, took the opportunity to edit and streamline the rules chapters based on fan feedback since the game’s launch, and introduce new rules for reputation, honor, glory, and house management. Now, for the first time, you and your fellow players can create your own noble Klingon House and seek out glory. Everything you need to create brave Klingon warriors and fearsome Klingon warships are available for you to use.”

What else can you expect to find within this book’s nearly 400 pages?

In addition to the revised rules, the book contains extensive chapters on Klingon history, culture, politics, military, and planets. Players have more than a dozen Klingon starships to choose from and make their own, creating their own ship to crew and take into battle. Players will be able to play Klingons from most any Star Trek era, including pure-bred Klingon warriors as well as those afflicted with the Augment Virus, the QuchHa’. Fans of Star Trek: Enterprise, The Original Series, and The Next Generation era will all find materials to use in their games and play in any time they choose.”

STA-KlingonRulebook-01

Read the entire piece here: StarTrek.com – Boldly Go Into the Klingon Empire

For those wondering, Klingons and additions to the lore as depicted on Star Trek: Discovery are not included in this new rulebook, as Modiphius does not currently possess a license to develop material based on that series. Never say never, though!

In addition to myself and Scott as well as the game’s already solid roster of talented developers and writers, Jim wielded his editor mojo and assembled a small band of Star Trek fiction writers to contribute to the book: Derek Tyler Attico, Christopher L. Bennett, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and Lawrence M. Schoen. I was asked to contribute a variety of background materials relating to Klingon history, politics, the military, and the Empire’s relationships with various allies and adversaries.

STA-KlingonRulebook-02

As always, it was great fun to work on a group effort like this, and I think Star Trek Adventures players and Klingon fans in particular will enjoy how this book adds a new dimension to the game. The book is currently available as a watermarked PDF you can download immediately upon purchase for $19.99, with hardcover “standard” and “deluxe” print editions available for pre-order and coming in the fall.

Thanks very much to Jim Johnson for inviting me back to play in the Star Trek Adventures sandbox for a while!

Talking about Agents of Influence with Literary Treks!

LiteraryTreks-LogoA new book means new interviews!

They vary in number from book to book, but one show you can pretty much always count on to reach out about an interview is Trek.fm’s Literary Treks podcast. I mean, talking about Star Trek books is baked right there into the name!

Those rascals, Bruce Gibson and Dan Gunther, always manage to nab me for an hour or so in order to talk about my newest Star Trek publication. This time, our chat revolved around Agents of Influence, my Star Trek original series novel which was released back on June 9th.

To be honest, I always feel like I’m fumbling through these discussions because by the time I’m talking with people who are reading the book, it’s been at least several months since the last time I revisited the story, and there usually have been any number of things I’ve written or are in the midst of writing by the I start doing interviews for a newly published book. However, Bruce and Dan did a fine job hitting me with good questions and observations which made for a fun, thoughtful conversation. I some ways, chats like this allow me to enjoy a story I wrote all over again.

For those pondering having a listen but who haven’t yet read the book, please be aware that SPOILERS ABOUND IN THIS INTERVIEW. You’ve been warned.

Otherwise? Head on over to Literary Treks and stick this in your ears:

Literary Treks Podcast #306 – There’s Shag Carpet On This Ship Somewhere

LiteraryTreks-AgentsLogo

Many thanks to Bruce and Dan for having me on again. I’m sure our paths will be crossing again somewhere down the road!

Your Moment of TrekZen*

Back in a time before Star Trek was the global, multimedia entertainment juggernaut it is today, merchandise was….funky.StarTrek-A&BC-Kirk CardI’ve seen cards from this set here and there over the years. Getting your stinking paws on a complete set seems to be like finding the Holy Grail or a copy of The Thing: Infection At Outpost 31 which won’t cost you a kidney. Produced in 1969 by a company called A&BC out of England, this was the first set of all-color Star Trek trading cards, predating the more commonly known set from Topps by seven years.

The 55-card set features images from a single episode of the original Star Trek series, “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” Given the guest character for this story was Roger Corby,” this likely explains the erroneous listing Captain Kirk’s first name as “Roger.” Somebody had Roger on the brain, yo. As choice of episodes go, this isn’t the worst candidate, but something like “Arena” or “The Doomsday Machine” or “Balance of Terror” might’ve been cooler, amirite? Then again, none of those episodes have Sherry Jackson sporting one of William Ware Theiss’s more memorable costume designs.

StarTrek-A&BC-AndreaCard

The choice of photos from the episode aren’t too bad, all things considered, even if some of the text has some unfortunate errors. Spock is a Martian, according to his card, for example. In addition to relaying text about the image on the front, several of the cards also have “space facts,” like the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Many of these infonuggets are outdated in a charming, whimsical 1950s science fiction way. Ah, such innocent times. All in all, the card set is pretty average, even if the captions lack much of the flare of the earlier Leaf card set, but what are you gonna do?

I doubt this set will ever be reprinted, but I’ve learned to never say never when it comes to pop culture merchandising. Until then, you can check out more info about these cards from this rather helpful website: Wixiban.com – Star Trek Trading Cards.

StarTrek-A&BC-CardWrapper

(* = with acknowledgments–and apologies–to The Daily Show)

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you. It’s June 16th, which means…..

CaptainPicardDay-Banner'

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

Oh, and he’s also a role model. Just ask him.


Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

So, hey! Don’t just have a great Captain Picard Day. Get out there and “Make It So.”

Agents of Influence

AgentsOfInfluence-CoverStar Trek: The Original Series

For years, Starfleet Intelligence agents have carried out undercover assignments deep within the Klingon Empire. Surgically altered and rigorously trained in Klingon culture, they operate in plain sight and without any direct support, while collecting information and infiltrating the highest levels of imperial power. Their actions have given Starfleet valuable insight into the inner workings of Klingon government and its relentless military apparatus.

After three of Starfleet’s longest serving agents fear exposure, they initiate emergency extraction procedures. Their planned rendezvous with the U.S.S. Endeavour goes awry, threatening to reveal their activities and the damaging intelligence they’ve collected during their mission. Tasked by Starfleet to salvage the botched rescue attempt, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must discover the truth behind a secret weapons experiment while avoiding an interstellar incident with the potential to ignite a new war between the Federation and one of its oldest adversaries.


Agents of Influence is my first Original Series novel since my 2016 collaboration with my bud Kevin, Purgatory’s Key. As I’ve recently said elsewhere, this era of Star Trek is my favorite, either while writing Kirk and the gang on the Enterprise or else other tales told in the same general time frame as we did with the Star Trek Vanguard and Star Trek: Seekers books. It’s always fun to return to this period, where Kirk and his crew are in their prime and out there exploring and seeking and boldly going.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the 22nd Star Trek novel I’ve written and the eighteenth while working under the editorial guidance of Ed Schlesigner and/or Margaret Clark. For the better part of the past decade it’s been both of these folks. They tolerate my antics and my shenanigans and they keep calling me back to write more Star Trek, for which I am and will forever be grateful.

This is also my sixth Star Trek novel to receive an audiobook adaptation. As with the other five titles, this new book benefits from the vocal stylings of the wonderful Robert Petkoff. A self-professed Star Trek fan himself, Mr. Petkoff always brings enthusiasm and passion to these projects, and I simply love listening to him breathe life into my pithy little words.

Agents of Influence is now available at bookstores everywhere, in trade paperback, e-Book, and both digital and CD audiobook editions. If you’re still one of those folks who loves going to an actual store for your reading material, I humbly suggest patronizing your local independent bookseller. If that sort of thing isn’t feasible for whatever reason, then of course we have other options:

Simon & Schuster
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
IndieBound

In addition to providing a permanent home for links to find and order the book, this blog entry also will serve as the book’s “official” Q&A thread. Those of you who want to chat about the book, feel free to post your questions/etc. to the comments section. For those of you who’ve found this page and perhaps not yet read the book, BEWARE SPOILERS ARE POSSIBLE FROM THIS POINT FORWARD.

An interesting Agents of Influence observation.

AgentsOfInfluence-CoverI originally posted a version of this on my Facebook page, but upon further reflection I decided to have a bit more fun with it. So, bear with me. I’m writing this to avoid doing actual work for a little while longer.

Anyway, it’s like this: An intrepid fan over on the TrekBBS has made an intriguing observation regarding my upcoming Star Trek original series novel Agents of Influence.

According to his observations, this title will be the 100th novel released by Simon & Schuster since it began publishing Star Trek novels in 1979 which is explicitly set during the period chronicled by the original television series, “the five-year mission.” It’s an interesting milestone, if a bit of a confusing one to anyone not mired in this stuff.

(Another term for such individuals is “normal people.”)

HoratiusThere have been hundreds of Trek novels published over the years and featuring Kirk and the gang (or some subset of those characters), dating back to 1968 while the original show was still in production. With the advent of the feature films, many early S&S novels (published at that time by their imprint, Pocket Books) were set in an around the various movies, mixed in with those set during the TV series timeframe. This doesn’t even take into consideration those based on the spin-off series, or “original” book spin-offs like Star Trek Vanguard, Star Trek: New Frontier, etc. It gets really confusing when you consider that at the time Pocket Books was publishing Star Trek novels, the films featuring the original series characters were in regular production and even though a novel might be set during the time of the TV show, as often as not it might sport cover art reflecting the most recent movie at that time. Examples:

TrekNovels-Sample(Click to Enlarge)

And yes, that’s also including the times the art took liberties and gave us TV-movie hybrids of existing uniforms, which was a common thing when legendary artist Boris Vallejo was painting the Star Trek book covers in the 1980s. They may not have been the most screen accurate, but daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn did they have style. I want a book of nothing but Star Trek book cover art, with a subsection devoted to Boris, because…again: daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn.

Anyway, our intrepid fan pushed through all the obstacles and distractions, keeping his eye on the prize while doing the work to arrive at a list of “just five-year mission stories” published by Simon & Schuster and what do you know? According to him, Agents of Influence will be #100.

I never really gave too much thought to how many books were set in which particular timeframe. Indeed, the other day a friend on Facebook asked me how many “original series” stories I’ve written over the years, and I had to stop and think for a minute. To be honest, I had to come back here and review my own backlist to get a correct count, and this is what I came up with this list of short stories and novels:

“Reflections” – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, June 1998
“The Aliens are Coming!” – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds III, June 2000
In the Name of Honor – January 2002
“First, Do No Harm” – Star Trek: Constellations, September 2006*
Things Fall Apart – Star Trek: Mere Anarchy, September 2006*
That Which Divides – March 2012
From History’s Shadow – August 2013
Elusive Salvation – May 2016
Purgatory’s Key – September 2016*
Agents of Influence – June 2020

And that doesn’t even count “original series-adjacent” stories featuring original characters and situations yet taking place in that same time frame like these:

Star Trek Vanguard:
Summon the Thunder – July 2006*
Open Secrets – May 2009
Almost TomorrowStar Trek Vanguard: Declassified, July 2011
What Judgments Come – October 2011*
In Tempest’s Wake – October 2012

Star Trek: Seekers:
Point of Divergence – August 2014*
All That’s Left – November 2015*

Star Trek: S.C.E./Corps of Engineers:
Foundations – 3-part story, June-August 2002*
Where Time Stands Still – September 2004*
Distant Early Warning – June 2006*

Other:
The First PeerStar Trek: Seven Deadly Sins, March 2010*
“The Menace of the Mechanitrons!” – Star Trek: Waypoint (comic), November 2016*

* = written with Kevin

Of everything listed, all but three take place during the period of time covered by the five-year mission. So, you know…that’s a lot of stuff in that window, and that’s just me/me & Kevin. Yikes, amirite?

StarTrek-JamesBama ArtI know there are those who feel the five-year mission era is pretty crowded at this point. Over the course of nearly 54 years as I write this, two television series along with novels, comics, video games, role-playing games and such have mined the territory pretty well. One could make the argument there have been enough such stories and it’s time to leave that period alone.

I give such people side-eye.

For me, this era of Trek “history” is a setting; a point of departure. Just as Superman or Batman or Nancy Drew or Mack Bolan or James Bond never age and remain in their prime even with the passage of decades since their first stories were told, I view Kirk and company in the same light. I can always find a new tale to tell with these characters. If I have my way, I’ll be reading a good original series-era tale while being wheeled into the dining facility at the retirement home.

With luck, they may even still let me write a few. 🖖😎

Trek-5YM-Negativity

Star Trek IV movie watch party…with me!

“Dayton, we want to ask you some questions about your writing and other stuff, before we all sit down to watch a movie together, and then we want you to keep talking all during the movie.”

I’ve trained my whole life for this moment.

Okay, so here’s the deal: Friend David Weiner is – among other things – a writer and documentary filmmaker. His In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic 80s Horror made quite the splash when it was released last year. I highly recommend checking it out, but bring a lunch as it’s over 4 hours long and you’re not going to care. As I write this he’s in the midst of assembling a similar project, In Search of Tomorrow: The Definitive 80s Sci-Fi Documentary which is at this moment in the final days of its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and promises to be as epic as its predecessor.

FamousMonsters286-CoverI “met” David several years ago thanks to the wonder that is the internet. At that time he was working as the editor for Famous Monsters of Filmland, and in that capacity he contacted me and my best bud Kevin about writing a couple of articles for the magazine as part of its celebration of Star Trek‘s looming 50th anniversary. Write for one of the magazines that fueled my interest in movies and TV in that oh-so innocent pre-internet era? Yeah, you know that had to happen.

Thanks to social media we’ve managed to keep in touch even after David left Famous Monsters. A lot of his writing time is focused on his own site, It Came From Blog, an ongoing celebration of all things nostalgic from a childhood and early adulthood that in many ways very eerily resembles my own experiences from the 70s and 80s.

Star Trek IV, Dayton,” I can hear someone saying. “I saw Star Trek IV in the title and that’s why I’m here. Get on with it.”

Okay. Cool.

A few weeks back, David invited me to do a virtual sit-down/Q&A as a bit of pregame prior to a virtual watch party for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, just one of the many awesome 1980s science fiction films which will be highlighted in the aforementioned In Search of Tomorrow (ISOT). The plan was for me to do the interview online before everybody cues up/streams their copy of the movie. I’d then get out of everybody’s way so the group of people who’ve been assembling for the other films in this series of get-togethers could enjoy the movie in peace.

But wait! There’s more!

They actually invited me to stay with them while everybody’s watching the movie, and continue our dialogue in some manner. Whether that’s me pointing out things about the film or offering up trivia or other Trek nerdity, or me participating in a dialogue with David and others as things move merrily along, I’m honestly still a bit fuzzy on. However, I’m told all will be good and fine and it’s about the communal experience….less movie theater and more living room as we all enjoy each other’s company and a shared love of the flick itself.

I admit I was hesitant at first. As I told them, I didn’t want to come off like that jackass who can’t shut up while people are trying to watch the movie, but I’m assured that won’t be a problem and is indeed part of the draw. All righty, then. Also, I wasn’t even sure I could hang around for the whole thing, but with our current and common situation and  stay-at-home advisories being what they are, I realized there was nothing keeping me from sticking around and seeing how things went once the movie starts.

So, here’s how (I think) it’s going to go: The fun is scheduled for this coming Sunday, May 10th, beginning at 3:30pm Eastern Time/12:30pm Pacific Time. The Q&A/Watch Party is being hosted via the Discord app. The ISOT group has a community within the service, and those interested in joining the festivities are encouraged to visit this link I’ve highlighted with these words and things right here. They’ll put me through the wringer for a half-hour or so, and then we all push “PLAY” and get on with the movie. Sounds easy, right?

Yeah. I’ll find some way to dork it up.

If you’ve got time to chill-ax and watch one of the better Trek movies with a bunch of virtual friends old and new, come on out (virtually speaking). Maybe I’ll “see” you there!

STIV-WatchParty

Stick this in your ears: Agents of Influence audiobook!

Need some Star Trek audiobook action this summer? While I’m hoping this means something to which you might listen while commuting to and from work or…really…anywhere that’s not another room of your house or apartment, we’ll start small. I don’t know about you, but I listen to audiobooks when I take my walks around our neighborhood.

No, not mine. That’d just be weird. However, you can totally listen to one of mine, and HEY! I’ve got a new one on the way in the form of Agents of Influence, my latest Star Trek original series novel which will (as of this writing) be published on June 9th. The audio version drops the same day as the trade paperback and eBook editions, and will be available as a digital download and a CD edition. As has been the case with pretty much all of the Star Trek novels which have received audio adaptations these past few years, this latest effort of mine is narrated by the always awesome Robert Petkoff.

Thanks to a tip from The Trek Collective, I was made aware the cover/packaging art for the audiobook is now available for perusual. It’s not that much different from the actual cover, though it does feature a bit more detail and of course carries Mr. Petkoff’s name as our grand reader. Check it out:

AgentsOfInfluence-Audiobook(Click to Biggie Size)

“But, Dayton,” I can hear some of you saying. “What’s it supposed to be about?”

WELL I’M GLAD YOU ASKED.


For years, Starfleet Intelligence agents have carried out undercover assignments deep within the Klingon Empire. Surgically altered and rigorously trained in Klingon culture, they operate in plain sight and without any direct support, while collecting information and infiltrating the highest levels of imperial power. Their actions have given Starfleet valuable insight into the inner workings of Klingon government and its relentless military apparatus.

After three of Starfleet’s longest serving agents fear exposure, they initiate emergency extraction procedures. Their planned rendezvous with the U.S.S. Endeavour goes awry, threatening to reveal their activities and the damaging intelligence they’ve collected during their mission. Tasked by Starfleet to salvage the botched rescue attempt, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise must discover the truth behind a secret weapons experiment while avoiding an interstellar incident with the potential to ignite a new war between the Federation and one of its oldest adversaries.


And there you go.

You can find links for purchasing the audio edition on the book’s page at the Simon & Schuster website.

Is it June 9th yet?

Happy First Contact Day, Trekkies!

April 5th, 2063: We’re only 43 years from this most excellent of events, yo.

While we wait, we continue to look to the future with hope and excitement. After all, we know that this monumental meeting between humanity and intelligent beings from a world beyond our own will usher in a new era of peace, optimism, prosperity and collaborative spirit as the people of Earth take their first tentative steps into a larger universe.

first-contact

So, grab yourself the first Vulcan (or other non-terrestrial biological entity) you meet, wriggle to the left, wriggle to the right, and do the Ooby Dooby with all of your might. Let’s get this party started, all while living long and prospering in forthright, logical fashion, of course.