04 April 2009

The Cast

Serving aboard the two Vanguards or featured in the campaign was a collection of characters played by various friends who added their own special talents to the fun. As images of them become available, I'll add them along with a short commentary for each.

1. Sulimon Singh, played by another long time friend Steven Scrivner, Mr Singh began as a lieutenant aboard the first Vanguard and was subsequently promoted to lieutenant commander upon the commissioning of the newer ship. Steve brought his quirky humor to the role and among his many quips was the infamous line, "She flies like a dump truck," delivered before performing a series of maneuvers that left the guests aboard wondering where their lunch had gone. (image of Sulimon Singh byAmbessalion at the Star Trek Photomanipulation Archive)

2. Serys Avola Drake, a non player character run by the Narrator, Serys is the wife of Captain Drake and is a highly regarded career Federation diplomat. Serys and Drake met during the Dominion War at a party, in what Drake later described as an ambush set up by his first officer, Commander Thelor Avola. That Thelor happens to be Serys's brother is politely assumed to be a coincidence. Nicknamed, Big Blue by those who serve with her, Serys is known as a tough, but fair negotiator and her diplomatic poker face is well known throughout the Alpha Quadrant as is her winning smile when she chooses to display it. (image of Serys done by a talented friend who wishes to remain anonymous)

3. Admiral Sir John Lindenbrook, Bt., another NPC run by the Narrator, Lindenbrook is the descendant of a long line of British baronets. Noted for his exemplary command of the 555th Tactical Wing during the Dominion War, Lindenbrook has subsequently commanded Ninth Fleet and, most lately, Seventeenth Fleet, newly organized as Starfleet's rapid response force. Known throughout the fleet as "Sir John" or "Gentleman Johnny," Lindenbrook is a much respected officer who combines toughness with a truly gentlemanly demeanor. He is considered a likely candidate for promotion at some point to Chief of Starfleet Operations. His wartime command, the 555th TW, included Saber Wing 77, to which the wartime Vanguard (NCC-72371) was assigned. As Commander, Ninth Fleet, Vanguard and her namesake (NCC-91000) were ultimately under his command. When he took over TF 17, Vanguard (NCC-91000) was reassigned to that unit at his request. (image of Admiral Lindenbrook byDefcon at the Star Trek BBS)

4. Lord Draxor Karth, another NPC creation by Frank Frey, Karth is most simply described as an Orion entrepreneur and philanthropist. In fact he is quite likely the wealthiest person in the known Alpha and Beta quadrants and certainly among the most influential people of his time and possessed of great charisma. Among the many corporations he either owns or in which he has controlling interest, is Novadyne, a major technological research and development firm that includes a number of major shipyards. Karth is not, as people quickly learn, a "typical" Orion and and makes it quite clear he considers that the combination of the slave trade and the Orion Syndicate is the worst thing that ever happened to his people. He is an implacable enemy of both and it is true when people say the only person the Syndicate fears is Karth. Tragically, his wife, a noted archeologist, was killed some years ago in an incident still not fully explained. Although she was killed by Starfleet personnel who claimed she and her research team were Orion "scavengers" out to steal archeological artifacts, it is more likely that she was a pre-war victim of Section 31 and had come too close to something Section 31 didn't want uncovered. Despite this, Karth holds no antipathy, as far as is known, to either the Federation or Starfleet and has undertaken major philanthropic endeavors that have benefited both. Karth has several sons and daughters, all of whom are employed in his many interests. Karth, on occasion, has talked of the glories of the ancient Orion Empire, which spanned a large portion of the Alpha and Beta quadrants many thousands of years ago. This had led some to believe that he has a long range plan to restore the splendor of ancient Orion in some form. (image of Karth by An-Gel Sakura at the Star Trek Photomanipulation Archive)

5. Lieutenant Junior Grade Reyna, played by Misty, who has since moved and found happiness in another state, is Vanguard's much put upon Science Officer. A rarity among the crew, she is a post-war graduate of the Academy and was assigned to the ship as a newly minted ensign. She and her small science staff of four technicians are often called upon to do the work of the dozens found on more science specialized vessels of the past. They do it well. Reyna is also different in being the only member of her people, the Euna, to serve in Starfleet. The Euna, whose name apparently means "travelers" or "voyagers," are now known to be an offshoot of the Delta Quadrant Ocampa, but have been genetically altered in some ways. They do not seem to possess any telepathic abilities nor do they have the short lifespan of their Delta Quadrant ancestors. They may have been seeded by one of the Nacenes at an earlier period, but little is known about them. The actual location of their planet is currently unknown. Reyna was the last survivor of a vessel forced to make a crash landing on a world near Federation space. With her parents dead, the orphaned Reyna was raised by a Human family serving aboard the surveyor that had located the wreckage. No useful information on the Euna was obtained from the wreckage. The relationship between the Euna and the Ocampa remained unknown until early 2376 when data from U.S.S. Voyager (NCC-74656) was received from the Delta Quadrant and analyzed. By this time, Reyna had just graduated from the Academy and received her assigment to Vanguard (NCC-72317). Captain Drake chose Reyna for her post because of her academic record at the Academy. His faith in her potential has been proven correct on several occasions. In addition to her many scientific skills, she is quite good at cryptology and linguistics. She still maintains a sense of wonder concerning the universe which even the most battle hardened veteran finds hard to resist. Although she was shocked at first by some of the old hands aboard the ship and their "piratical" ways, she soon showed herself to be a valuable addition to the crew. When given command of the new Vanguard (NCC-91000), Captain Drake forced a promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade for her through the bureaucratic labyrinth of Starfleet. (image of Reyna by Keldaria at the Star Trek Photomanipulation Archive)

30 March 2009

A Captain of His Times

My character in the campaign was Michael T Drake III, captain of the wartime USS Vanguard (NCC-72317), a modified variant of the Saber-class starship (known in our campaign as the Ranger-subclass). This vessel saw two years of the toughest combat as part of Saber Wing 77, commanded by Commodore Erika Benteen and Captain Drake was very much a product of his times. Having suffered nearly crippling losses in the time before and the earliest phases of the war, Starfleet found it necessary to rapidly promote younger officers to more responsible positions and Drake was one of them. Given his acting captaincy while in his late twenties, by the end of the war in 2375, Drake was a seasoned veteran. Shortly after the war, with the decommissioning of his wartime command, Drake received a permanent promotion to captain and command of a new Vanguard (NCC-91000), a much larger ship. Our campaign dealt with the events of 2376 and well over half the episodes were based on the older ship. As Frank would describe it to me, serving on that small, overgunned and frightfully overworked vessel was something akin to the feeling one gets when watching Das Boot, a movie which depicts the harrowing life aboard a German submarine during the Second World War. Having watched the miniseries Band of Brothers, I felt that the actor Damian Lewis was best suited to my concept of Captain Drake, were he to be cast in flesh and blood. I won't go into a detailed biography of the character, but suffice it to say that this young man had been through two years of hell and had seen three quarters of his graduating class from Starfleet Academy killed in action. The officer that emerged from the war and how he dealt with the postwar situation was my focus as a player. As a final note, I would like to credit and thank Ambessalion at the Star Trek Photomanipulation Archive (http://stpma.net/index.php) for his fine rendering of Damian Lewis as my character.

The Campaign Itself

I won't be going into excruciating detail about the campaign here (I hope), but first and foremost I wish to say that it is the brainchild of my longtime friend, Frank Frey, based on a life long love of Star Trek and his perspective as a military veteran. We are both fans of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine television series and wanted to play a Trek based role playing game derived from it. Frank had obtained and studied a little gem called The Fires of Armageddon, a sourcebook for the Last Unicorn Games (LUG) Star Trek RPG. The gritty universe of societies recovering slowly in the aftermath of a devastating war and the situations in which characters who had been through that grueling experience might find themselves appealed very much to Frank and to me as well. Even though we used a different set of rules by Decipher as the basis of our campaign, we found Fires to be an excellent expansion of the canon information presented in the television series and one that took on the issues that would face people in the aftermath of the war head on. The campaign that emerged was one of considerable dramatic impact and I strongly feel that the best of our "episodes" were fully worthy of being made into Trek movies in their own right. This is a feeling, I'm sure many RPG players feel the same about the campaigns they have developed or played in. Yet, despite the overall grimness of the setting and the serious issues our characters faced, we never lost a sense of wonder or humor along the way. I was happy to be a part of this campaign and proud to have made, in my own fashion, a small contribution to it at times. Thank you to Frank for the campaign and thank you to my fellow players for all the great moments you provided.

The Vanguard

The USS Vanguard (NCC-91000) is the ship featured in the last Star Trek role playing game, in which I was involved. For the purposes of that campaign, she was the lead ship of a new class of strike cruisers known as the Vanguard-class (or V-class for short). Observant Trekkers will note the image we selected is that of the Achilles-class featured in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars computer game (Gizmo Games, and published by Simon & Schuster Interactive). The game master who developed our role playing campaign, chose the look of this class as that best suited to his concept of a class of purpose built, combat oriented vessels based on the experiences Starfleet suffered at the hands of the Borg and later the Dominion in the period 2367 and 2375. As such we wanted a ship that at first glance fit into established Starfleet design parameters and yet was clearly meant to be a warship. The adapted design fit our needs precisely and we humbly thank the original developers of the class for this brilliant look. Along with the ship itself, is the feel our narrator (game master) intended for the campaign, and I shall discuss this in future posts.