Star Trek Adventures: 'Shadows of the Past' Mission

Romulan T'Varo class ship flying over clouds


Your crew has detected a T'Varo class Romulan ship, adrift on backup power. Your orders are to identify the trespassing ship, and to determine its mission.


  • Investigate the ship. 
  • Help survivors. 
  • Find out the ship's identity and mission.

Spoilers beyond this point:

Scene 1: Discovery

The U.S.S. Pathfinder has entered sensor range of the strange ship. The PCs can ask questions and perform initial tasks to gather information about the Romulan ship. Difficulty 0.

  • The ship is in Federation space without permission. This is against our treaty, but common.
  • Its Ion trail is erratic, indicating an unusual course with no clear destination.
  • The ship does not respond to hails. Unusual because…?.
  • Its ID does not match that of any known ship in the Romulan Navy. A civilian or clandestine vessel then…
  • There are 2-5 life signs on board, out of an expected 150. Dangerously few for a ship this size.

Scene 2: Embark

Players can transport to any of the rooms listed in the ship’s description below. Rooms not listed have disruptor burns and bodies, and nothing else of note. With a shuttle they can access the airlock location. If they try the shuttle bay, they find the blast doors sealed and need to pass a relevant Difficulty 4 Task to get them open.

Scene 3+: 

The artifact will affect PCs on the away team until they overcome it, see Special Rules.

  • Every Communicator on the ship is destroyed.
  • The ship has been like this for days.
  • If the team examines any of the bodies with a Medical Tricorder they learn that there are dangerous levels of stress hormones in the blood.

Romulan T'Varo Class Ship 

A 2-D Floorplan of the T'Varo class Ship

Bridge. Location Traits: Dark, Power Outage, Damaged.

The cramped bridge is illuminated by the pale glow of emergency lights. disruptor burns crisscross the walls and view screen. There are several burned Romulan bodies lying around the room at their unpowered stations.
Security/Reason 0: They died of wild disruptor fire.
Engineering/Reason 2: The power is out because someone disabled the Singularity Drive from here. You can attempt to restore power. This removes all Dark and Power Outage location traits on the Ship.
Conn/Reason 1: They traveled through territory where a Vulcan ship went missing. From the navigation history, it’s possible this ship is a pirate paid by the Romulan government.

Quarters. Location Traits: Dark, Trashed

The quarters are smoke-filled and strewn with belongings, bodies and disruptor burns. There is a life sign in one of the lockers, and a scraping sound coming from inside.
Medical Tricorder: There is a Romulan inside the locker with dangerously elevated heart rate, stress hormone levels, and theta brain wave levels.
If the players open the locker, the Romulan inside goes into cardiac arrest from the stress of being exposed to open spaces. See Special Rules if the players transport him to sickbay.

Armory. Location Traits: Stripped Bare, Dark.

The armory has been looted. There is an armed Romulan body surrounded by scorch marks on the floor, like she was shooting at the deck. She is covered in swollen welts.
Medicine/Reason 2: These are insect stings, from a species native to a Romulan colony. Peculiar - these insects die when transported at warp speed. Her body has elevated levels of stress hormone in the blood.

Airlock. Location Traits: Structure Anomaly, Dark 

The corridor around the air lock has been warped, closing in around the internal airlock door. The panel indicates that the outer door was activated from inside the airlock and is still open.
Science/Insight 2: The corridor warping reminds you of iron filings being realigned by a magnet, like some force was pulling the interior walls towards the airlock with tremendous force. When the force stopped acting on the hull, it came to rest in this configuration.

Cargo Bay. Location Traits: Locked, Dark

The doors to the cargo bay are locked from the inside. There's a life sign inside.
Medical Tricorder: The life sign is a Romulan with dangerously high heartbeat, theta waves, and stress hormones.
Engineering/Reason 1: Override the doors to open.

Inside there is a clearing surrounded by cargo containers haphazardly pushed against the walls. There's a single Romulan Centurion holding a knife standing alone in the center of the room.
The centurion will become enraged and attack if he sees anyone obviously use technology - like a full medical inspection with a Tricorder.
Command/Presence 3: Calm the Romulan enough to talk with him.

All the cargo containers are from non-Romulan empires.
Security/Reason 0: This cargo is stolen.

Searching the cargo reveals a stone ring with Vulcan writing carved into it.
Science/Insight 1 or Telepath crewmember: The Artifact telepathically creates a theta wave feedback loop of fear responses and impulsiveness in beings nearby the device.
Science/Reason 3 or Vulcan Kolinahr crewmember: The Artifact was used in ancient Kolinahr* rituals before being retired due to the high mortality rate it caused.
IMPORTANT: Affected characters believe they will die if the Artifact is destroyed.

Shuttle Bay. Location Traits: Burned Out, Destroyed Shuttles, Dark

The Shuttle bay was a war zone. All the shuttles and transporter pads are destroyed and smoke fills the air. There are bodies inside some of the shuttles and scattered around the deck. There is one life sign inside the crew compartment of a relatively intact shuttle. The faint life sign is that of a Romulan Centurion who is terrified of social situations. He will panic if spoken to, and he will open fire if he sees more than one crew member at once.

Medical Tricorder: The life sign is a Romulan with dangerously high heartbeat, theta waves, and stress hormones.
Security/Reason 2: Military grade explosives were used to destroy the equipment here.
Insight/Medicine 3: Read the Centurion's state correctly and identify the way to keep him calm.

Computer Core. Location Traits: Damaged, Dark

The computer core is dark and streaked with Disruptor burns. There's a single body in a fetal position near the control panel.
Medicine/Reason 0:
The Romulan died of a heart attack from extreme shock. There are elevated levels of stress hormones in the Romulan’s blood.
Engineering/Reason 1:
Repair the computer core and access ship records. Success provides security footage of the ship descending into mania as Romulans succumbed to the fear:

  • The Romulan in the computer room died when the power was cut from Engineering, and the room went dark. The heart attack seems to have been triggered by the light going out.
  • One shows the computer room and shuttle bay being attacked by a Romulan who fears technology, who then locked himself in the Cargo Bay.
  • Another piece of footage shows a Romulan running towards the air lock as the hull warped to constrict around him. He gets to the air lock, and blows himself out into space. 
  • A third piece of footage shows a Romulan in the Armory as a swarm of insects swarmed and bit them to death, then fading to nothing as the Romulan died. 
  • The final piece of footage shows a Romulan who fled each room until he found a locker in crew quarters and stuffed himself inside.

Sickbay. Location Traits: Dark, Trashed

There are no life signs. Among the bodies, one is notable - a patient in bio hazard isolation.
Medicine/Reason 1: Records show the body died from a virulent Romulan plague that went extinct centuries ago. There is no presence of the plague in the body or samples anymore. In addition to the plague symptoms, there are high levels of stress hormones in the body’s blood.

GM Section:

The Vulcan V'Shar Intelligence Agency was transporting an ancient Kolinahr* artifact when their ship was boarded by Romulan pirates. The pirates ignored the Vulcan crew's warnings, stole the artifact, and destroyed the Vulcan ship.
Once aboard the Romulan vessel, the artifact began to affect the Romulans by emanating theta waves - amplifying their impulsiveness and fear responses. The entire crew became consumed by the artifact’s influence. The worst affected individuals were so overstimulated that the Artifact manifested their fear in the real world. These manifested fears stalked the ship until destroyed, or the person that imagined them died.

Species that don't experience emotion and Vulcans that have completed Kolinahr are immune to the Artifact. Empaths and Telepaths are more vulnerable to the Artifact and increase the Complication Range of all Tasks by 2 while affected. However, they can receive help from any number of other PCs when attempting a Challenge Task.

Special Rules:

The Artifact telepathically amplifies fear responses and impulsiveness in emotional beings within proximity of the device. It was built to test acolytes of Kolinahr on Vulcan before being retired centuries ago due to the high mortality rate of the ritual. The Vulcans were moving the device to a secure vault when it was stolen.
The Artifact taxes all PCs who experience emotion and who are on the same ship. Stress does not recover for PCs within the Artifact's effect, until they lose consciousness at 0 Stress. Falling unconscious manifests their fear in the real world – see Manifested Fear below. The unconscious character will recover at full Stress in the next Scene.
If a PC is exposed to the Artifact and then leaves its influence, the lack of psychological closure causes them to suffer severe psychological distress, and they become compelled to go back to the Artifact. If the Artifact is destroyed, the character withdraws into a catatonic state over several hours . This can be cured through Treknobabble, or Overcoming the Artifact, or mind melding with a Vulcan Kolinahr practitioner.
Each Scene where a PC is within range of the Artifact, they experience some kind of unnerving hallucination (GM's discretion). The character suffers a Non-Lethal psychic attack with (14 – Insight) Damage Dice. This damage is the psychological toll of the artifact, and a Medicine/Insight 2 Task finds that this Stress can be recovered with sedatives and mood regulators
Medical Tricorder: Anyone who suffers damage from the psychic attack shows elevated levels of Theta Waves and stress hormones. Anyone who falls unconscious and spawns a Manifested Fear shows dangerous levels of Theta brain waves and stress hormones.
Recovering psychic stress: Medicine/Reason 1 Task. Each Success recovers 1 Stress. Limit once per session.

Secret Objective – Overcome the Artifact and your Fear.

'Overcoming The Artifact' Challenge:
PCs can begin taking Tasks for this Challenge after finding any of the unusual deaths on the Romulan Ship.
Each character will have to overcome the Artifact individually.
The Tasks must be completed in order. Only 1 Challenge Task can be attempted per Scene. One other Player can Assist.

Task 1 - Identify their fear in the perceived threats Difficulty 1
Task 2 - Become aware of the emotion and source memory Difficulty 2
Task 3 - Identify hallucinations, and harmful emotional cycles Difficulty 3
Task 4 - Reshape Negative thinking, break the cycle of fear Difficulty 4

Alternatively, if your players are having trouble, have your player role play their character’s epiphany and how they overcome it in Task 4.

Once a PC completes Task 4 the Artifact won't affect them anymore. Manifested Fears will ignore PCs that have completed the Challenge.

Manifested Fear – Notable NPC

Stress: 16 Resistance:  0
Control 11, Fitness 15, Presence 15, Daring 13, Insight 15, Reason 0
Command 3, Security 5, Conn 0, Science 0, Engineering 0, Medicine 0
Construct: This entity only suffers injuries from being reduced to 0 Stress, which destroys the construct.
Ranged Attack: 7 dice, Piercing 2, Knockdown (optional)
Melee Attack: 8 Dice, Piercing 2, Knockdown (optional)


If the players are succeeding easily, have the effect start to spread to the U.S.S. Pathfinder or have spare crew members on the mission succumb. If the players are having a lot of trouble, have the U.S.S. Pathfinder grant them momentum from researching the issue or Vulcan V'Shar show up to help.
Spend Threat to add strange environmental complications like silhouettes of creatures that aren’t there, and to add Reinforcements in the form of Manifested Fears of technology, social interaction, and agoraphobia.

Treknobabble and Improvised solutions:
Allow the players to attempt any solution that they can create a sound analogy for. Example: ‘These Romulans all appear to have been overstimulated by a Theta Wave signal. Perhaps we can create a counter signal – like how white noise can be used to mask unwanted sounds.’
Good analogies should be Difficulty 1 or 2, acceptable analogies should be Difficulty 3, and bad analogies should be Difficulty 4 or 5.

Character Fears:

Ideally the GM will know what the characters are afraid of before running the module. If that is not the case, here are two alternatives:

  1. Tell your players that their characters’ fears are an important part of this mission, and have them describe what their character is subconsciously afraid of or made uncomfortable by. This is the recommended option because it gives your players control over a significant and personal part of the mission while letting them avoid topics that might bother them as players. Then incorporate each fear into scenes with their respective character.
  2. Assign fears to the characters without telling the players. There are many fears to pick from and most people are afraid of more than one thing. This is a direct but simplistic way of solving this issue – it removes your players from being able to define an important part of their character. If time is limited or these characters are created for this scenario, then Method 2 is appropriate.


  1. This is good - but what Era is it for? Thanks!

    1. I wrote it without an era in mind.
      The artifact is ancient, so this should work for TOS, TMP, TNG, and DS9.