This adventure poses a massive ethical quandary as there are THREE sentient species whose conflicting interests must be taken into consideration. For those playing in The Original Series era, for which this adventure is written, the Prime Directive should be first and formost in their minds, likewise in games set in The Next Generation era. If your game is set earlier, in the the Enterprise era, there's no such directive, but general ethics should give characters pause at the thought of 'Playing God' with the sentient species that they encounter. Notes are provided to aid in other things that might need to be changed if playing in eras other than that for which this adventure was written.
It all begins with the party's vessel pottering about outside Federation Space, mapping systems and similar tasks. Even the most dedicated stellar cartographer gets a little jaded after a month or two with no inhabitable planets showing up, so the discovery of a bizarre vessel drifting in space should attract their interest. It's basically a dome with a forest growing inside, breathable atmosphere but no signs of higher life. After initial study from afar, it is likely that the party, or at least some of them, will beam across to find out what's going on. They will doubtless find things very confusing, and may need some help in reaching an understanding of what they have encountered here: the way it is all presented provides a genuinely unique ecosystem unlike anything encountered before... yet, once it is understood it all makes perfect sense. Ultimately contact will be made, but that's only a beginning...
As further discoveries are made (and there are several routes in which this can happen, so even if the party misses the obvious clues they will eventually find out what is going on. Then they have to decide what to do about it all. The dilemma is laid out clearly and the GM supported in guiding the party through it. However, even once they have reached their solution to this dilemma, another one awaits and it is here, in particular, that even the most reckless character will realise that either the Prime Directive is breached or two remarkable and unique sentient species may perish in final extinction.
Various options are provided to create a conclusion in keeping with the party's decisions and actions. The one thing that is glossed over is what Starfleet might think about what has transpired once the party reports in. This is something you will have to decide for yourself. Overall, however, it is an excellent adventure, the sort that makes you want to rush out and find some players to run it for, muttering about the fate that led you to read it before you had the chance to play!
Return to A Forest Apart page.
Reviewed: 24 February 2020