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Vintaak Disappearance Site

by Charlie Plaine, The Terran Empire Assistant Designer

18th November 2016

"Captain's log, stardate 5693.2. The Enterprise is approaching the last reported position of the starship Defiant, which vanished without trace three weeks ago. We are in unsurveyed territory." - Captain James T. Kirk

Vintaak Disappearance Site

Unsurveyed territory is probably the ultimate double-edged sword. Starfleet captains were explorers, and everyone of them was looking for the chance to discover something new, to make their mark on history. In terms of Star Trek's history, Captain Kirk wasn't able to save the Starship Defiant. You might have more luck, if you're prepared. If you have a powerful enough ship and a well-educated crew of scientists, you can pull the Defiant out of on the interphase and back into our reality. But beware, the phenomena might be more powerful than you thought, and you might find yourself pulled through... to another article universe.

I would argue that unsurveyed territory is equally alluring - and dangerous - to First Edition designers as it is to starship captains. Almost everyone that has joined a design team in the past two years has been excited to do The Thing they can't believe hasn't done before. Most of the time, those designers quickly realize that if The Thing hasn't been done, there's a good reason why. We're all attracted to the shiney and the new, and it was for this reason I was very nervous about pitching my idea for a double-sided time location.

Though my name is listed in the credits for The Terran Empire, I didn't have a lot to do on this expansion, with the exception of this story. I knew this story had to be in the expansion and it had to deliver, so I felt a lot of pressure to get this right. My gut, my instincts were screaming to jump to a double-sided time location but my experience made me slow down. When I looked at it objectively, I made some realizations:

1. Double sided cards weren't that "unsurveyed" in 1E. After all, Spacedoor has been around for most of the game's life. This strongly suggested this would be a piece of design tech that would be accepted by players and supported by the rules.

2. There were other ways to capture the "phasing between universes" mechanic. We could make a single time location that connected to two universes/locations. We could make two separate time locations you could travel between. We could make a single time location and then an incident or objective to represent the other half. There were options, but...

3. None of the other ways had the elegance and simplicity as a double sided time location. A single time location that connected to two different locations/universes would be a rules nightmare, and nobody wants to see a rules entry akin to Stop First Contact's again. Separate time locations would probably have worked, but only if we added another card that moved you between them. And a time location/incident pair would be simple and conventional, it felt wrong; it lacked the symmetry of two sides of the same card.

I was convinced that a double sided time location, with one side in the Alpha Quadrant and one side in the Mirror Quadrant, was the perfect solution. Fortunately, it's been well received all down the line from the first pitch to my peers on the design team to the rules, creative and art volunteers.

In terms of game play, there are a lot of mechanical advantages to the Vintaak Disappearance Site. It's an easy way to get a second ship (almost seedable, too), if you get a lucky space line. Here's a bit of trivia: you aren't required to seed Examine Disappearance Site (the corresponding mission) for this side of this Time Location. Weird rules quirk, right? Of course, if you don't, then you lose access to my personal favorite. It's subtle, but did you know this is a back door way to travel between quadrants?

But that's the end of my turn. Click here to flip this article over.

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