Earlier this year, I talked about FASA's Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game and, more recently, about FGU's Starships & Spacemen. Each represented a different take, one official, one not, on Gene Roddenberry's brand of science fiction adventure in roleplaying form. However, they were not the only such takes in the early days of the hobby. In 1978, miniatures manufacturer, Heritage Models released a 40-page RPG to be used in conjunction with their line of official Star Trek miniatures. Called Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier, it was written by Michael Scott and is both the earliest licensed Trek RPG and one of the earliest science fiction RPGs of any kind.
As one would expect from a RPG with only 40 pages, Heritage's Star Trek is a very simple game. Indeed, its rules are so minimal that it's barely a game at all. The "basic game" does not have any character creation rules, assuming the players will select pregenerated PCs based on characters from the Original and Animated series. Like D&D, all characters have six abilities (Strength, Dexterity, Luck, Mentality, Charisma, Constitution), ranging in value from 3 to 18. Characters also have Hand-to-Hand (melee combat) and "Initiation" (i.e. initiative) abilities. There is no skill system; instead, a series of 3D6 rolls under abilities is used to handle most activities in which a character might engage, with Luck being used as a saving throw. Melee combat is based on opposed rolls, with a defender subtracting his result from the attacker's and positive numbers being used to determine damage, which is subtracted from a character's Constitution score. Ranged combat is a bit more complex and relies on a chart that cross-references a character's Dexterity score. There are also some very basic rules for equipment, such as communicators and medi-kits, as well as a sample scenario.
The Advanced Game enables players to create their own PCs by rolling 3D6, modified by bonuses or penalties based on species. There are two new abilities introduced here: Size and Movement. Psionics, which were treated simply through the use of a Mentality roll in the Basic Game, are given slightly greater coverage, including differentiation between types of psionic powers (the Basic Game included only a mindlink). Alien races and lifeforms from the series are given short write-up, along with rules for creating one's own. There's a similar collection of short descriptions for many types of equipment. The Advanced Game's combat rules are noteworthy primarily for being more "fiddly," particularly with regard to time and movement (hence the new stats). There are many more modifiers, in addition to rules for armor and shielding. There is a sample adventure for the Advanced Game, along with guidelines and advice to the "Mission Master" in creating his own.
All in all, Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier is more a sketch of a roleplaying game than anything else. It's painted in very broad strokes, far moreso than even OD&D or Metamorphosis Alpha, two early games that often get knocked for their brevity and rules lacunae. Compared to Traveller or even Starships & Spacemen, both released the previous year, Star Trek doesn't seem to have much to recommend it beyond the fact that it was "official." Of course, my opinion clearly wasn't shared by all, as there were several interesting expansions to the game included in various gaming publications well into the early 80s, including a lengthy "mini-supplement" in issue 18 (January 1982) of Chaosium's Different Worlds by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh. Crabaugh's article greatly expands the rules of the game, adding mechanics for rank, experience, skills, aging, salaries, world generation, and warp travel. It's hard to imagine trying to use Star Trek without Crabaugh's expansions and, even then, there's still a lot of ground, such as starship combat, that isn't even touched upon.
I know nothing of the origins and history of this RPG; I never even saw a copy of it until comparatively recently. Nevertheless, I can't shake the feeling that it was created primarily to create a larger market for Heritage's miniatures line, thus explaining the greater detail given to things like movement and range in the Advanced Game. Remember that, in 1978, Star Trek, though popular in certain circles, was not yet the media franchise that it would become in the aftermath of its big screen adventures, the first of which was still a year away at the time of the RPG's release. That might well explain why Heritage never did much with the game and it became one of the great mysteries of the hobby, unknown to the vast majority of gamers, including those who love Star Trek. Of course, it might also be because the game isn't particularly good or memorable.