I was reading Iain Livingstone's early 80s classic, "Dicing with Dragons", in which he discusses the idea of Solo RPGs (not surprising as he is the father of Fighting Fantasy, or at least the co-parent) - but what is surprising is how dismissive of it he is, arguing that it's not true roleplay. I'll admit that, although a fan of the CYOA type books when younger (Joe Dever's Lone Wolf series particularly), I hadn't really experimented with Solo RPG as an adult. I mean, what's the point? Where's the interaction? Where's the mystery? But being a massive Trek fan, liking the Modiphius system, and struggling post-lockdown to get a gaming group back together, my interest was piqued by Captain's Log.
Let's put this front and centre: in nearly 40 years of gaming, this is one of the best RPG products I've ever seen.
You have to accept, from the outset, the pitch: you are writing are story for yourself, fundamentally. In that sense, you are writing a novella set in the Star Trek Sandbox, an episodic script of your own. It's creative writing with an rpg skin. Now, in another life, I'm an English teacher and have been known to write a bit, so I see the value in this; equally, I see the use in the wealth of stimuli that the product provides. However, for all that, as a GM, I can see this as a tool, a pocket kit for designing a show, a short story arc or a one-off session. Because the real strength of this book is it is literally everything, in one place, that you need to not only play Solo but to run the game. It is STAGGERING how much content they cram into it - even a call-back to the older trek rpgs, with the inclusion of the legendary Technobabble Table.
Systemically, their games use a 2d20 mechanic which is VERY swingy but really suits narrative play, especially where characters are inherently expert and advancement is about a character's personality and goals - in other words, it's ideal for Trek (less for Dune, FWIW). Previous Trek systems (FASA, LUG, Coda) could become bogged down in a plethora of skills and everyone rolling ridiculous dice, which obviously intrudes on storytelling; with the Modiphius system, however, the emphasis is on the story and building narrative. In the Solo version of the game, which reduces the Momentum/ Threat mechanic (though it can be included), we have introduction of a Probability Matrix, allowing you to determine how likely an event is to succeed or fail. Quite honestly, I can see myself importing this into all sorts of games, Trek or otherwise, but allows the story to move along in a convincing fashion.
In terms of what is included, you get a clear guide to the Lifepath system for every era: creating a senior officer (usually the captain) from their earliest days through to their current role. You can elect an any point simply to ignore a random result (which let's face it, is not unreasonable if you end up rolling, say, a TOS era Starfleet Gorn) as suits your preference, but the randomisation can lead to more story threads, skeins you hadn't even imagined possible. And you're not limited to Starfleet - indeed, the full Lifepath for Klingon characters is included also. As you progress, you develop Values, your character's motivations. For example, a fully randomised attempt gave me an ENT-era Illyrian, growing up on an Isloated Colony world, going through Struggle and Hardship, yearning to design Starships, joining the Academy and making first contact with a crystalline lifeform, having a terrible accident and learning that Not every problem had an intellectual solution, before taking command of a classic Intrepid-class... a fully-formed, rounded character, with motivations, contradictions, Talents and Values. It's stimulating and inspiring, whether you're an experienced player or a novice, whether to start exploring the universe or just to get lost in your own head.
I should say, also, Captain's Log is a beautiful book, and remarkably compact. It's full of art from all eras and shows - yes, even Lower Decks gets a look-in - and you can choose your preferred era's cover (TOS, Disco, TNG, or DS9/VOY) as well. I mean obviously DS9 is best, but still. As well as conventional interior art, the aesthetic is in the familiar TNG-era LCARS style whilst the incredibly detailed ship illustrations (and there's a LOT) allow you to clearly envisage the tech. Yes somehow, despite all the content, this book is not overwhelming. It's a simple joy to read as a fan - a potted history of the Trekiverse in a compact, yet detailed, format. It even gives space (as it were) to the 27 Century Temporal Cold War and 32nd Century of Disco S3/4. Equally, it's a masterpiece of RPG writing, concise and well-organised - I've had to read so many poorly-edited rpg books over the years it beggars belief. It's worth having on your shelf if you're a Trek fan or not, a solo gamer or not... In short, it's a must-have.